TORONTO: Small group adventure travel company Intrepid Travel has brought on The Sway Effect and network partner Agean Public Relations as its North America AOR.
Intrepid Travel hired the firms last week following a comprehensive RFP process that lasted three months and included 10 agencies. Sway and Agean start working with Intrepid Travel at the start of the month.
Agean founder Alyssa Garnick noted that Intrepid Travel’s RFP made it clear that it needed travel press and “stellar media relations” assistance.
“They wanted some consumer and brand ideas that would help reflect their position in the marketplace,” said Garnick. “So they want their PR to be media-relations-strong and also consumer- and creative-led.”
Founded in 1989, Intrepid Travel takes travelers off the beaten path to discover local cultures. It offers more than 800 trips and has a network of destination management companies in 23 countries.
“[The agencies] will dive right in with a brand refresh project and [promote] our new tour range launching in the U.S.,” said Mikey Sadowski, Intrepid Travel’s GM of global PR and communications.
The company’s goals include becoming the first billion-dollar adventure travel company by growing purpose and product together, Sadowski added.
“We put a big emphasis on the work, and now we are trying to put more emphasis on the words,” he explained. “We want to move away from just being a tour operator to being an impactful brand and one that people genuinely care about and connect with. We want to get to a point where people are just as likely to compare us to a Patagonia or a Ben & Jerry’s as they are to another tour operator or travel company.”
In 2018, the carbon-neutral business became the world’s largest travel company to be certified B Corp. The Intrepid Foundation, a nonprofit, has raised more than $11 million for more than 130 charities around the world, it said in a statement.
Sway Effect founder and president Jennifer Risi said the account win shows the power of her firm’s network model, which brings together independent agencies. Budget information was not disclosed.
“When we got the brief in, and we had to have very strong consumer branding expertise, [Garnick] is one of the best people I know at that,” said Risi. “I called her and asked if she wants to partner together to do this, and here we are.”
Risi, a former executive at Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick, launched The Sway Effect in 2019. It is also a part of & The Network, a collective of 16 independent agencies in more than 20 markets. Each firm is fully independent while co-owning a 5% share in the network. The Sway Effect posted $2.25 million in revenue in 2020, an increase of 105% from the year prior, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report 2021.
FleishmanHillard alum Garnick formed Agean in 2020 with a focus on brand-building PR for corporate identities, consumer brands and celebrities.
MMGY NJF was the incumbent on the account. MMGY NJF is the North American division of MMGY Global, which was created in 2011 when MMG Worldwide merged with Ypartnership. Intrepid Travel worked with the agency for seven years, and the relationship ended on September 27.
"We're proud of the long-standing partnership we developed with Intrepid and the instrumental role we played in growing their profile in the U.S. market from an Australian-based tour operator to an innovator and global industry leader in purpose-driven, sustainable travel,” said Julie Freeman, EVP and MD of MMGY NJF.
“[MMGY] were part of the pitch,” said Sadowski. “There were no negative feelings; it was an amicable split. We owe a lot to them and what they were able to do to get our brand where it is today.”
Sadowski explained that Intrepid Travel brought on a new agency because it is “thinking about who we want to be in the future and needing to look deeply at every part of our business and putting the best foot forward and how we can move from survival into revival post pandemic.”