Intrepid Travel

More than ever, travellers want to reconnect and travel in a way that ensures they can give back to people and the planet. At Intrepid, we aim to deliver that type of experience not only when travellers are on a trip – but at every customer touchpoint along the way. Salesforce helps us to do just that.”

James Thornton | Intrepid Travel CEO

Intrepid Travel uses Salesforce to grow with purpose

Already the world’s largest adventure travel company, Intrepid Travel has ambitious plans for the future. The B Corp certified travel company has a strategy to grow with purpose and become a $1 billion business. Operating trips on all seven continents, it also aims to be the best travel company not only in the world, but for the world, benefitting both travellers and the places and people they visit. As part of this commitment, Intrepid, which has been carbon neutral since 2010, has become the first global tour operator to set verifiable science-based emissions targets to reduce its carbon footprint.

“More than ever, travellers want to reconnect and travel in a way that ensures they can give back to people and the planet,” says James Thornton, Intrepid Travel CEO. “At Intrepid, we aim to deliver that type of experience not only when travellers are on a trip – but at every customer touchpoint along the way. Salesforce helps us to do just that,” he adds.

Today, those experiences are more personalised and seamless than ever as Intrepid transforms with Salesforce to get closer to customers and to amplify its purpose-led initiatives

Reimagining business for the future

Intrepid first turned to Salesforce several years ago to help take its vision for travel to a global audience. At the time, the company lacked the technology to personalise the customer journey and was weighed down by manual processes, making it difficult to scale. So Intrepid decided to centralise all of its customer data on Salesforce and use the platform to power smarter service and personalised engagement.

Initial outcomes included more personalised journeys to help customers get ready and excited for upcoming trips. The company also streamlined operations, driving a 90% reduction in the time to complete processes like customer check-ins. 

And while the pandemic hit the travel sector particularly hard and created many new challenges for Intrepid, it also led the company to accelerate its transformation and reimagine itself for the future. Salesforce has supported the business throughout, starting with improving customer engagement.

Personalising engagement

Many things changed for Intrepid during the pandemic and one of those was the nature of customer communication. Early on, Intrepid pivoted its communication to focus on informing customers about COVID-19 safety protocols, travel restrictions, cancellations, and details of credit redemptions. Marketing Cloud helped the company get communication out quickly and alleviate pressure on consultants.  

“Marketing Cloud allowed us to communicate with all of our customers at scale and inform them of changes regarding their individual travel plans and bookings. As a result, we were able to reduce the load on our consultants while still ensuring one-to-one communication with our customers,” said Drew Martinez, General Manager of Customer Experience at Intrepid. 

Intrepid has also leveraged Marketing Cloud to support its not-for-profit’s fundraising campaigns during the pandemic. This included a campaign to raise funds for those impacted by the spread of the Delta variant in India during 2021.

Tapping into customer data in Sales Cloud, Intrepid was able to target the campaign to those who had previously travelled to, or shown interest in, India. The campaign resonated well with this audience, raising nearly $15,000, which went towards medical supplies, including oxygen concentrators, as well as cash transfers for the most vulnerable families and meals for more than 60,000 people. 

A more widespread campaign was run to raise funds for global vaccine equity to ensure more people can access vaccines safely in countries all around the world. The campaign quickly exceeded its initial target of $100,000, which has since been raised to $150,000.

“We believe that everyone has the right to access the vaccine and it's especially important to us considering the places and communities we visit and our responsibility to keep everyone safe,” said Leigh Barnes, Chief Customer Officer at Intrepid. 

The past couple of years has also seen Intrepid pivot to focus more on its domestic offerings in Australia, Europe and the UK, and the United States. This has been in response to the pandemic and Intrepid’s desire to provide travellers with local and sustainable experiences. These trips also tend to have a smaller carbon footprint and require fewer flights, which help the company towards its carbon reduction targets. 

Intrepid’s marketing team is increasingly sophisticated in how it promotes these offerings as well as its international tours. For example, leveraging Journey Builder and integration with Google Analytics 360, Intrepid is able to send tailored journeys based on customer behaviour. 

One of these is an automated journey targeted at those who’ve shown interest in Morocco. The journey is triggered based on a customer’s activity on the Intrepid website and includes a series of emails to promote the Morocco tours that customers may find most interesting. 

As global travel restarts, Intrepid is seeing positive results from this and other automated journeys with open rates and click-through rates respectively double and triple that of standard email sends. In the APAC region, revenue grew 600% MoM (October 2021 vs September 2021).

Enhancing customer care

Like most organisations, Intrepid continues to see the needs and behaviours of customers change during the pandemic. Social media has become a key channel for those seeking support and inquiries have often come in late at night, particularly as a global business with customers in three key markets across the globe (Australia & New Zealand, Europe & UK, and North America) 

“When Intrepid started out thirty years ago, travel agents operated from nine to five and customers needed to go into the store to make a booking. Now, customers want to chat with us on their phone at 8pm while they’re sitting in front of the TV, wherever they might be in the world,” said Martinez. “The pandemic really accelerated that shift to digital and, with the globalisation of our customer base, we needed to be able to respond 24/7.” 

Having previously adopted Social Studio to centralise planning and scheduling for its social channels, Intrepid ramped up its use for social service. 

“The early days of the pandemic was a time of high anxiety and uncertainty for everyone and especially for our customers who needed to get home or had upcoming trips,” said Martinez. “Social Studio helped us respond to everyone quickly and put their concerns at ease.” 

Another key benefit of Social Studio has been the reporting which has provided Intrepid with a centralised view of conversations, trends, and metrics like response times—all of which is helping the company to adapt and improve its social engagement. 

A larger transformation is underway to streamline and centralise support across all channels, including email, live chat, and phone. Phase one of this transformation is complete and has included using Service Cloud and Lightning Console to provide global visibility of support activities. Intrepid has also enhanced live chat with incremental improvements like letting customers see where they are placed in the queue. 

As a result of these initiatives, Intrepid has reduced case resolution times from an average of five days to just under two. It has also reduced chat abandonment rates from 20% to 12%. Meanwhile, Service NPS has steadily increased and reached a high of 78 in October 2021.

Building momentum

As borders reopen and travellers make plans for the future, Intrepid is continuing to innovate and improve the experience of its customers, partners, and people. Sales Cloud is helping it to better manage relationships with travel agents and other travel brands and industry partners.

Leveraging its single customer view, Intrepid has also built a mobile portal using React Native that connects with Salesforce to streamline collaboration with trip leaders. Leaders can log onto the portal and access trip manifests rather than printing out spreadsheets. They can get a clearer view of customers to better manage their individual requirements and make the check-in process more seamless, including enabling each customer to complete their online Covid-19 questionnaire.

Currently in development is a new Incident Management System. Built on Experience Cloud, the system is expected to deliver significant efficiencies in incident management while offering increased data security. 

To support these and other projects, Intrepid has leaned into resources from the Success Cloud, including the Trailblazer Community, Trailhead, and the Salesforce Help Portal. These resources have helped teams to upskill and learn about features they can use in the future. 

One of Intrepid’s future priorities is to forge deeper connections with customers which will support its growth as well as its purpose-led initiatives. 

 “When I look at what’s next, it’s all about using Salesforce to make our customers feel special and provide them with unique and personalised experiences,” said Barnes. “We also want to embed our purpose into our communications, whether it’s by educating customers on climate change or by amplifying the voices of First Nations people.”


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