What makes James Thornton a Global Shaker?
James Thornton is Chief Executive of Intrepid Travel, a B Corporation with an aim to “deliver on our dual goals of growth and balancing purpose and profit.”
Intrepid’s portfolio of three specialist tour operators and 25 Destination management companies take more than 460,000 travellers to more than 120 countries. It caters for all ages, budgets and appetites for adventure. Intrepid has 2,300 staff and leaders in 42 offices around the world.
“There’s this notion that business success means you have to do harm to the world,” he told The New York Times. “When the new normality returns, it shouldn’t come at the expense of sustainability.”
In 2018 Intrepid Travel joined companies like Patagonia, Danone and Ben and Jerry’s as a certified B Corporation. They now produce a public annual report, three weeks of paid parental leave for all staff, regardless of gender, which is a big factor in many countries. Part of their commitment involves reviewing suppliers and improving the gender balance of staff.
Towards the end of April, with travel collapsing amid national lockdowns, Thornton sent out a letter to the industry, explaining Intrepid’s actions — how many cancellations were being processed, how many travelers were being repatriated, and the level of profit per trip. When asked in a webcast why a private company would choose to reveal so much information, Thornton pointed to Intrepid’s ethos as a B Corporation. “Fundamentally, we believe in openness, honesty and transparency,” he told Arival. “And we also believe that we want to celebrate the great things that we do, but also recognise that we get things wrong and it’s good to just admit to those things.
“I see it as a point of difference. As a private company you don’t have to do it, but it builds rapport and trust with your customers, partners and all the different stakeholders.”
Thornton graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2002 from the University of Loughborough, and became portfolio assistant at Thesis Asset management PLC. After three years, he moved to Intrepid Group, where he worked his way up from UK & Europe Industry Sales Manager to Managing Director, and then CEO.
His role includes global responsibility for all brands in the group, including Intrepid Travel, Peregrine Adventures, Urban Adventures, Adventure Tours Australia & PEAK Destination Management. He’s also the Chair of Intrepid Foundation and Chimu Adventures.Tags: Australia, Responsible Tourism, Sustainable Travel, tourism