Intrepid Travel boss challenges more travel firms to become B Corporations

Intrepid Travel’s boss has encouraged rival tour operators to step up and join the operator in becoming a certified B Corporation company.

The adventure tour operator recertified as B Corp in early 2022, three years after it became the world’s largest travel company to gain B Corp status.

B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

Speaking at Travel Weekly’s Sustainability Summit last Thursday (November 24), chief executive James Thornton said: “The important thing for me is Intrepid is the largest certified B Corp in the world, but I don’t want to be.

“The sooner a bigger travel company than Intrepid takes on that mantle it is going to raise B Corp awareness in the travel space and then consumers will start to make their decisions based on company being a B Corp.

“I don’t think we’ll hold the title of being the biggest B Corp in travel for that long and we want more and more to join us on this journey.”

He added that it was “great” to achieve B Corp status in 2018 and the operator was very aware that it had to “keep improving”.

Larger companies struggled more than smaller ones to pass the B Corp assessment, explained Thornton, who was speaking on a panel alongside Gavin Tollman, chief executive of The Travel Corporation’s tour brands and Hurtigruten Norway chief executive Hedda Felin.

“The brutal reality is, the bigger the company the harder it is to achieve B Corp status,” Thornton said. “If you’re big companies like Hurtigruten or TTC it is really tough. That does not mean you should not do it.

“We’re seeing bigger larger companies become certified B Corps.”

But he insisted the “whole company” had to be committed to achieving the certification.  “We set it as a company goal because we felt it was transformational in the sense over the course time people will buy from B Corp companies.

“If you’re shareholder, management team and your team are aligned you can make it happen.”

He went on to say that people would “come and work for us because we’re a certified B Corp and we stand for something.”