NEW YORK -- Australian tour operator Intrepid Travel plans to plant
both feet in U.S. soil next month.
The Melbourne-based Asia specialist has had one foot in the U.S.
market for about a dozen years, selling its Intrepid Small Group
Adventures through Emeryville, Calif.-based Adventure Center under
that firm's brand.
"Twenty percent of our customers are American without us doing
any marketing, so we thought we should see how well we do if we
market ourselves here," said Sally Johnson, Intrepid's marketing
The operator will open its first U.S. office in Torrance,
Calif., on Jan. 2.
Intrepid Travel was founded in 1989 by two Aussies, Darrell Wade
and Geoff Manchester, who still head it.
According to company legend, the idea for the company hatched as
Wade and Manchester were walking across the Sahara Desert with a
group of friends they had organized for travel to Africa.
"They decided, 'We can do this' " said Jen Bird, international
marketing manager of Intrepid.
Their first destinations were Thailand and Turkey, but Turkey soon
was dropped, and they began to expand their base in Southeast
Today, Intrepid operates trips to 19 countries, having expanded
as far as India, Russia, Japan, the "stans" of Central Asia,
Mongolia, Nepal and Tibet. This year the company initiated programs
to Egypt and is considering re-entering Turkey.
What sets Intrepid apart?
"Real life experiences, without the hassle," Johnson said. "With
us, you can get to the heart of a country. You come face-to-face
"You travel with like-minded people who also want to get beyond
the surface of things. We are very honest with people about what we
offer. That's how we attract like-minded people."
Co-founder Darrell Wade said the company was founded "with a
passion to get travelers off the beaten path in Asia."
"We wanted to develop a style of travel that was altogether
different, where, as travelers, we became a part of a country and
not just tourists looking in," he said.
Johnson said the company keeps its profit margin low, which
results in a good value for the money.
For example, a 14-night China trip with 10 nights in hotels, two
on a boat on the Yangtze and two on a train is priced $1,100 for
the land portion. No meals are included. The cost of meals is
estimated to total $225.
See www.intrepidtravel.com for the complete product
listing. After January, travel agents can call Intrepid Travel's
reservations number at (866) 944-3900. Until January, tours still
can be booked through Adventure Center at (800) 228-8747.
Intrepid: Six degrees of exploration
NEW YORK -- Intrepid offers six styles of travel, beginning with
its primary product, the Intrepid Original, which offers a variety
of destinations, activities, modes of transportation, social
interaction with the locals and plenty of free time for
The company has expanded its product range with five alternative
• Intrepid Premium, which includes a higher standard of
accommodations and more inclusions.
• Intrepid Independent, the company's independent package
• Exploratory Adventures, for the "hard core" of expedition
travelers who want to go to the edge and experience the unexpected
at every turn.
• Roam Basix, a no-frills travel package with the security of a
group tour leader. These tours were originally for the 18- to
35-year-old group but now are open to all ages.
• Oxfam Journeys, trips taken in concert with Oxfam, a
humanitarian organization. Some of the revenue from each Oxfam tour
is donated to Oxfam, according to Sally Johnson, Intrepid's
And every traveler gets to participate in some of the
organization's community development projects. Some of the projects
in the past included the building of schools and wells. --