Five in Five with Darrell Wade

Preferring travel to work, it seems kind of obvious that Co-Founder of Intrepid Travel Darrell Wade started a travel company where he could pursue his passion.

Health and wellbeing is a core value for Intrepid Travel, both in terms of the community they serve and their passionate staff.

The business walks the talk. Fostering the belief that a sense of purpose in employment leads to better health and wellbeing outcomes, as well as increased productivity, Darrell and the Intrepid team ensure that everything they do as a travel company benefits society, striving to demonstrate this positive impact wherever possible.

The travel industry is highly competitive. How did you identify a gap in the market and what research did you undertake to confirm the opportunity?

Strangely, I’ve never been an especially competitive person so it was really important to me to find a space in the travel industry where we didn’t have to compete as such.  Our idea of sustainable, experience-rich travel was such a space.  No one was doing it at the time which means it was either a good idea whose idea had come, or it was a terrible idea and we would go broke!  Fortunately for us it was the former.

How can travel build and add depth of experience to business innovation and acumen either on an individual or  company level?

Australia may be an island, but Australian business is not.  For our staff to be globally competitive they need to understand different markets, cultures and ways of doing things.  This can be partially achieved through a diversified workplace, but it is better achieved through overseas experience. Both the individual and the company benefit from the shared value this experience brings, so developing a future around global experience is important.

From a community aspect, we strongly believe that citizens health and wellbeing is improved if they take holidays.  People return from holidays refreshed, stimulated and productive CEO, Darrell Wade

Credit Liam Neal/Intrepid Travel.
Cycling trips in Provence. Photo Credit Liam Neal/Intrepid Travel.

What advice can you give students considering disrupting a marketplace with a business idea, as you and your co-founders have done with Intrepid and your other brands?

Well given that I am on the Advisory Board of the Melbourne Accelerator Program I would definitely suggest engagement with MAP - everything is free and there is an amazing amount that can be learnt through lectures, the mentor program and public events. There was no MAP when I was at Melbourne and it made starting Intrepid much, much harder!

Of course I'm dying to know the place you most enjoy travelling to and why.

I’m a terrible person to ask this question as I’m always going somewhere new and I almost always love it!  I’ve just had a few weeks in Romania and some of the rural countryside in Transylvania was some of the best I’ve ever experienced.  It was like a European time warp - horse carts, haystacks and wood fired stoves.  Apart from that I spend several months a year in New York - you just can’t go past it for energy and fun.

Darrell in Masai
Darrell is challenged to a jumping contest in Masai. "Jump Darrell, Jump!"

Finally, are there any new ventures you are working on and what can we look forward to when you bring them to market?

Now that would be telling wouldn’t it?  But yes - we have just launched a new cruising concept that we are calling Adventure Cruising – travellers will journey on very small ships that can go way-off conventional routes and get to places that the big cruise companies can’t. The focus is on travellers immersing themselves in local life rather than the floating mega resorts that puts so many real travellers off the idea of cruising. We might be a big adventure travel company but we’re a start-up in the cruise sector, so this will be lots of fun! We’re also looking at a series of joint public-private partnerships with DFAT and NGO’s where we can hopefully create new products in developing countries that are a benefit to our travellers, our business and the local community.  True triple bottom line stuff!

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    Darrell Wade, (BCom 1981) founded Intrepid Travel with business partner Geoff Manchester, also a Bachelor of Commerce graduate, over 25 years ago. In 2002 the pair created The Intrepid Foundation as a way to give back to the communities that their business was working with. Currently CEO of Intrepid Group and a Board Director of The Intrepid Foundation, Darrell is particularly interested in encouraging travellers to connect with The Intrepid Foundation projects in ways that will help change the way they see the world