Intrepid Travel acquires US tour operator Wildland Trekking

Skift grip

The hard-hit tour operator sector is creating opportunities for consolidation as some savvy players will use the travel recovery to seek acquisitions to fill significant gaps in their portfolios.

Rashaad Jordan

Tour operator based in Australia intrepid journey announced on Wednesday that it was buying Trekking in naturean American company specializing in small group hikes, with the aim of making a bigger breakthrough in the lucrative North American market.

“We just see it as a fantastic opportunity for us to travel more US customers and expose the Intrepid brand in an active, outdoor way,” said Intrepid CEO James Thornton.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Intrepid’s purchase of Wildland adds 260 trips to its North American portfolio. Prior to the move, Intrepid had only offered 57 tours in the United States, or about 5% of its 1,150 worldwide offerings. Its drive to expand its U.S. offerings comes as domestic travel is expected to increase in 2022, as 59% of U.S. respondents to a survey in Expedia’s 2022 Travel Trends Report said they were planning domestic-only travel for the New Year.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen people become more comfortable traveling closer to home, and that’s prompted Intrepid to start developing more local and national travel products,” Thornton said, adding that his company would not have been able to expand its product significantly. offerings themselves.

“To truly build a portfolio of large-scale outdoor activities and active adventures, we knew we would need an expert like Wildland Trekking.”

Wildland co-founder Steve Cundy said Intrepid initiated the acquisition talks, which his company was receptive to due to its recent struggles. The struggles experienced by several tour operators around the world have sparked many mergers and acquisitions around the world.

“Covid has been a big setback for us,” said Cundy, whose company typically hosts 8,500 guests on its tours each year. “It was a financial setback because we lost our ability to put money into determining our carbon footprint. We were in the middle of a carbon audit – we had to put it on hold.

“We have laid off a number of employees. We simply didn’t have the manpower and we were frankly fighting for our survival.

But Cundy said that while other companies initially planned to dismantle Wildland’s existing infrastructure and operations to some extent, he eventually developed a sense that Intrepid valued his bandwagon business’s niche products. small group hike, popular destinations including the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. About 97% of Wildland’s business last year came from the United States, although Cundy believes that figure will drop to 85% in 2022.

“We will continue the Wildland trekking brand in the short term,” Cundy said, adding that while the company’s long-term goal is to place its offerings under the Intrepid brand, the timeline for such a transition depends on the how he thinks Intrepid can sell the Wildland circuits. Cundy maintained that Wildland executives – including his brother Scott, with whom he founded the country in 2005 – will continue to lead the company.

So what’s next for both companies? “We’re going to sit down together and build our plans over one, three, five years and that will happen in the months ahead,” Thornton said.

[UPDATE: The article was updated to include a modification of a quote Steve Cundy made about how Intrepid valued Wildland.]