The Travel Marketing Podcast

In this episode, Brennen has an enlightening conversation with Mikey Sadowski, the VP of Global Communications from Intrepid Travel which isn't just any travel company. They've been at the forefront of responsible tourism, setting a benchmark by becoming the first adventure travel company to attain carbon neutrality back in 2010. But they're not stopping there.

Recently, Intrepid has magnified its focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), making strategic investments that echo its commitment to a more inclusive and diverse travel world.

What is The Travel Marketing Podcast?

You’re a marketer in one of the most competitive industries.

You may be tired of trying, over and over, to use the same marketing strategies that you read about online or learned about in school - but is that really going to move the needle?

We all know the big brands -, American Airlines, The Points Guy, Royal Caribbean, Marriott, VRBO, and Hertz... but what about the emerging brands that have found their path to scale?

The Travel Marketing Podcast is about sitting down with successful marketing professionals in the travel, transportation, and tourism industry to learn what has worked for them, what they’ve learned along the way, and what new trends they’re noticing.

We are Propellic, and we’re on a mission to create more diversity in thought for the planet. We’re doing that by helping brands - specifically travel, transportation, and tourism brands - increase their reach through intelligent marketing that travels further.

Beyond Borders: Championing Inclusion and Diversity with Intrepid Travel in the Tourism industry
Mikey Sadowski

This is the Travel Marketing Podcast, brought to you by Propellic, bringing you the news and insights and what's working and not working in today's competitive transportation and tourism landscape. From emerging brands to the most established professionals, these lessons of intelligent marketing will help your marketing plan travel further.

Brennen Bliss (BB): Hey everybody, I'm Brennan Bliss Founder and Principal at Propellic the travel and tourism agency for SEO and paid media. Today I'm really excited for the next episode of the Travel Marketing Compass Podcast. I've got Mikey Sadowski, he is the VP of Global Communications and he is from Intrepid Travel.

Intrepid's known for being a really, really world first company is how I'd like to say it. They were the first adventure travel company to go carbon neutral in 2010, and I'm really excited to talk about their efforts on diversity and inclusion today. We'll delve into their commitment to these principles and discuss why being socially responsible benefits everyone, companies, travelers, and the industry.
Here we go.

Hey Mikey, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm really excited to dive in. Of course, everybody knows your brand Intrepid and we have seen all that you've been doing in the market and one of the key things that I think we connected on, I'm super excited to talk about is your DEI, your diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.
So I'm excited to dive in today. How are you?

Mikey Sadowski (MS): Yeah, I'm great. Thank you so much for having me Brennen. I appreciate it.

BB: Okay, good. All right, so we'll just start right at the beginning, can you tell me about where this came from? Why you started embracing diversity and equity and inclusion as a company?

MS: Yeah, definitely So the ethical marketing guidelines came into effect around I guess January 1st 2022 that was kind of our first full year and they were designed with a single goal in mind, which was how can Intrepid Travel hold ourselves accountable for becoming a more diverse and inclusive brand and a more diverse and inclusive travel company.
Now, the impetus of the ethical marketing guidelines are definitely rooted in kind of our 34 year history, and it's always kind of been very central to our organization around kind of giving back to the communities we visit and kind of using travel as a force for good. Now, of course, over 34 years, how that presents itself tends to kind of evolve.

BB: Being in business for 34 years, having that manifest.
Tell me a little bit about the DEI program, the why what is it? So how would you communicate it with an audience?

MS: Intrepid Travel's ethical marketing policy was developed in partnership with six consultants, and they helped us develop these five clear commitments that are backed by 23 measurable actions to ensure that we're progressing the work to be more inclusive in our words, visuals, and our narratives.
The whole, I guess, like the, the why and why this all started really kind of can date back to 2020 in the middle of the pandemic and Intrepid, like many other travel companies publicly posted in support and solidarity with the black lives matter movement. And around that time, an organization called the Black Travel Alliance was formed, and it was really developed to help hold the industry accountable and making sure that, you know signs of performative kind of allyship and kind of brand advocacy were actually genuine and actually backed up by meaningful action. So, you know, when a lot of these brands were posting the black squares and we really had this really important internal dialogue that kind of said, if we're going to do this, if we're going to actually just put ourselves out there to say, we stand in support of the black lives matter movement, what were we actually going to do?

And how are we actually going to use this as a catalyst to create systemic change in our business and in our marketing? So, this is kind of where the dialogue started with the ethical marketing guidelines. And from there, it was a six month project that included six consultants and invested quite heavily in actually doing the work behind the words.
And what that then eventually actuated into was, this ethical marketing program.

BB: I was just going to say, it's interesting that you call it the ethical marketing guidelines rather than making it, you know, necessarily an organization wide DEI policy, because it really is how you communicate your company. It really is how you broadcast your message when you say that you stood in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
It shouldn't be such an eye raising thing, but that's something for a brand, it's a risk, right? And a brand doing that takes a risk, just like Bud Light did when they sent a gift to a transgender influencer, which I think, you know, obviously not everybody's extremely happy about how that played out, and I think brands are being a lot more cautious as a result. It's been really unfortunate to walk around and see way less pride flags this year than I typically see.
But how do you stand behind those types of decisions? What is like the decision making process for when you make a marketing message, align with your beliefs as an organization and publicly publish that?

MS: I think what's so important and I think what the pandemic really helps certainly for travel is, when an industry like travel during the pandemic, where no one can leave their, they can't let alone leave their country. They can't even leave their house. And you really get to a point of like, what is the purpose of our organization?
All the nice to haves are completely gone. And what you're effectively left with is that the very bare bones, what does your organization stand for? What are the absolute non negotiables for us? And so for us, we really were able to reflect on being like, what is Intrepid at its core? And it's this unified mission of trying to be the best travel company for the world.
And we realized that we can't be the best travel company for the world without being a voice for all the people in the world. And this was really this idea of, okay, well, the world has stopped. The world is grounded, and all we have left is our values, and we're going to continue to find ways to use travel as a force for good.
The way that we do when we're sending travelers all over the world on these incredible holidays to amazing communities and destinations around the world. So for us, it really just felt almost like because we had such a well defined sense of who we are and why our business and our brand exists, it was really easy to take these big, complex social issues and understand that we actually do have a meaningful role to play and, and kind of having that internal dialogue that we wanted to be on the right side of history.

BB: I got you. So if we were to set the baseline as differentiating between what is really just a talking head versus what's actually practicing what you're preaching and looking at your supply chain, looking at your tour guides, even looking at what you do, what does your company look like that gives you the confidence to say, it's not just what we're saying, it's what we're doing.

MS: Yeah. Well, I have a very interesting role as, you know, Vice President of Global Communications, and I think at Intrepid and organizations like ours, which do have this inherent purpose beyond profit, and we're a certified B Corp companies like Patagonia and Ben and Jerry's that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance that when you're marketing in an organization like this, Your role is really to kind of sit at this intersection of the words and the work, and that's something that I take very seriously, and that's something that I really instill in our team globally.
And it's kind of part of our marketing culture. And what I mean by that is, you know, we don't sit in this silo. We're actually very encouraged to spend just as much time with our designers and email marketing team as we are with our environmental scientists and our social impact managers and our product operations.

So we're really, really intertwined and connected to the whole ecosystem of the business, and we're not just like this very, very end and layer that we're just distributing the message. We're actually working on this, like, very cohesive brand and product. The other thing that really makes Intrepid unique is this vertical integration element. So a lot of travel companies are kind of just the face, and then they're outsourcing operations around the world and they're kind of, there's a lot of third parties and a lot of kind of layers within their supply chain. The vertical integration is that there's over 25 Intrepid offices that sit across 6 continents. And that's really central to our experience. So we have offices in Lima, Peru and Nairobi, Kenya and Quito, Ecuador, in 25 plus countries, and these are where our operations base is happening. This is where we're hiring locally, we're developing products locally, we really have a good ear and our voice to the ground.
That kind of has two benefits. One, it helps us actually, you know, empower communities in a very meaningful way. We keep money in the local economy, pay jobs in the local economy, but even for our travelers, it creates such a better and more meaningful experience because you don't have a Western tour guide showing you the sites of Vietnam. You actually have a person who grew up in Vietnam, who has friends that are playing a gig that night, who knows the bartender at this local place, or as a friend, who's a chef that's doing a pop up. So it's a much better experience for the travelers, but as a business, it also really helps kind of with how we develop our entire product is very much through the lens of, you know, local people and local voices and not always kind of through a Western lens and in our headquarters in Australia or other headquarters in Toronto or London.
It's a very global business in nature.

BB: I think what you've just shared clearly states what it means to live what you say, right? The fact that you're hiring in destination, the fact that the guides are in destination, our mission as an organization at Propellic is to increase diversity of thought in the world. And we do that by working with travel companies and we do that by supporting their digital marketing, specifically search initiatives but we really only work with travel for that reason. And it's that we want to ensure that everything we do allows for diversity and travel is the best source of diversity because you can go from one destination to another and be immersed in that culture. And you're actually allowing people to do that and giving them a guide and giving them an experience

MS: Yeah…

BB: So you've got the operational side, obviously you've got it in your company. I can imagine there's challenges though, communicating that externally. Have you had any thing that you've published externally that you regret publishing?

MS: Oh countless things, I'm sure. I'm trying to think of specific examples, but we've really, really tried to exercise a very high level of humility and a very high level of this idea of progress over perfection and really trying to approach a lot of these comms and this impact spaces, like, we're not perfect. We're not necessarily the North Star. We're trying and we understand that there's going to be lots of hurdles and these, speed bumps along the way. To be honest, one of the biggest barriers of these ethical marketing guidelines in general was that there was no preexisting playbook in the travel industry for it.
We really had to dig deep and look at other organizations and other industries to try and figure this out. And I think that was one thing that was kind of a barrier was we knew that we were going to kind of have to go first and we were going to have to put something out there that wasn't going to be perfect.
And that wasn't necessarily, we've seen succeed in the travel industry before, but for us, it's that kind of level of, like, humility and being uncomfortable embracing the unknown a little bit and kind of saying that this is part of the journey. This isn't the complete. This isn't the end. And this is just us trying to get a little bit better.

And I think that idea of kind of working openly acknowledging that it's about kind of progressing the narrative and also being very, very centered around feedback and accountability. So, one of the things that are maybe talked about the least about these ethical marketing guidelines that have been instrumental, in my opinion, is if you look at them on the Intrepid Travel website, you'll see there was this email that was created called accountability at and it's almost like a disclaimer that exists on every single page within it that says, hey, this isn't perfect, this isn't complete, this is evolving and ongoing. And we would love to hear from you, we'd love help, we'd love you to, you know, where are our blind spots? Where are we not seeing? How can we get better and be part of the conversation and be part of the progress and be part of the work?
And I think when you kind of take that approach, I think it really, really helps with the reception to be not as critical and actually more supportive because people aren't criticizing X, Y, Z. We're actually inviting them into the conversation of progress as opposed to inviting criticism.

BB: I think you just said Zed. I think your Canadian is coming out.

MS: I feel so seen.

BB: One of the things I find most interesting is that you publish an annual report and that's very, that you said you have humility. Yes, that is humility. I'm curious who owns the program within your company.
MS: The program of our annual report?

BB: The program of the entire initiative of the ethical marketing guidelines.

MS: The ethical marketing guidelines sit with myself as Vice President of Global Communications and our Chief Customer Officer, who's effectively are our Chief Marketing Officer but sees we kind of bring everything under one roof in terms of marketing and customer care and customer conversation and community because we kind of really see it as an all encompassing thing.
But, you know, that culture of diversity I'm getting inclusion and impact it's kind of a through line throughout the business. We do have, you know, dedicated chief people officer and purpose officer. We have, GMs of social impact and environmental impact and we have the Intrepid Foundation. So there's definitely through lines that exist throughout, and I think it was 1 thing that we kind of touched on as well, which was another really important consideration as well with these ethical marketing guidelines was.
We have to be super mindful of not projecting to be this incredibly inclusive brand, and then selling people on a dream that didn't exact exists on the ground. And that's a really big thing, it's like, okay, so now you've created this really. We've gotten you really excited about these inclusive stories and inclusive visuals, and you've seen yourself in our marketing, and then you get on the trips themselves. And we haven't done that in our product design, we haven't done that in our recruitment, we haven't done the education on our staff internally, we aren't hiring. So these are the other things where that's where you're kind of talking about creating a culture of that. So one of the big things that was happening behind the scenes is we're going to take ethical marketing, and we're going to run with it as kind of our marketing team, our global leadership team. But at the same time, our GM of Product and our Chief Product Officer also needs to start running with diversity, equity and inclusion and doing a lot more work to actually change how our product is designed and making sure that we're not developing trips through that kind of singular lens. And that again, I think is kind of one of the bigger challenges as well is not letting that, it can spiral into a much bigger thing and it can really stop progress.
So we really kind of were focused on, let's just do a few things a little bit better. And every year, let's continue to chip away at making it better and better and building a more inclusive business.

BB: See, so that part's really interesting. You said that it sits with marketing, the guidelines sit with marketing. That makes perfect sense. You said that you have to make sure that you're not selling something that's not real. Marketers listen to this podcast. So my question for you in this situation is how would a marketer, if they feel passionate and they feel encouraged to do something like this or bring it to their company, let's say they're a VP level or Director level. What's the path look like? Do they need to find a company that believes that from deep down within before they can start messaging it, or is there any sort of leverage that the marketing organization has upon the greater organization?

MS: I think we, we say this expression a lot at Intrepid Travel, which is, it's a fun one, but we say it's really important that we clean the house before inviting people to the party and it really talks about the kind of accountability of like, let's just really make sure that we all believe in a line and understand what we're actually taking to market before we take it to market.
And, you know, with the actual, like, how we operationalize this from an ethical marketing lens was the, when we started developing this, what happened adjacent to that was kind of a working group with a few of our global leadership team members, you know, all kind of the VP levels, but cross functional. We brought together myself as VP of comms, our VP of brand, our VP of product, our VP of purpose, and for the first time, we're meeting essentially on a weekly basis. Holding ourselves accountable for some of this progress and things and making sure that, you know, the ethical marketing guidelines weren't getting too far down the path without some of our work around more indigenous tourism experiences and better accountability around hiring black tour leaders for our US product and a lot of different iterations of it as well.

And then similar to the brand, like how we were actually talking about our tone of voice and our guidelines, and then the actual purpose and impact work around how we were making sure that we were supporting all these projects and just. All of these things as well. So I think from an actual, like, as marketers who would be listening to this podcast, it's kind of that idea of there is that certain level of like collaboration, but it really, sometimes I think we look a little too insular of like, we look at our meetings and go look at who we talked to in a week.

And it's you're talking to the, as we said before, we're talking to the email people, the brand people, the digital people, and all these things. When you're really trying to make systems changes and systemic changes, marketing is a lever of it, but you really need to take outside the department of marketing and really go into the overarching business.

Well, it certainly helps if you're in an organization that is a certified B Corp or an organization where that's kind of embedded or they are mission locked and that's kind of part of their ethos, but at the same time that's also how change starts from one passionate individual who kind of sees a better way of doing things.

That's not only good for the world, but it's good for the bottom line as well. So I think that's just that's a little bit of kind of an insight into the methodology of how that came to life at Intrepid.

BB: That makes sense. I think the really interesting thing for the people who are listening to this, for marketing people in travel is, this is important work that's being done, right? This is hands down. If nobody knew about this and it was being done, that would be fine, right, but you've gone the extra step to set the stage to set expectations for what it looks like as an organization to success to at least keep hold themselves accountable.
I don't know if success is ever a destination we reached, especially, you know, in 2023, there's a lot of work to be done as a country and globally but.

MS: Yep.

BB: If you were to think about how we communicate this, because there's no shame in communicating that we're doing something like this, I think it actually is really good because as long as it's not, washing over something that's not actually happening, you're communicating something good you're doing and you're setting an example.
So when we get into tactics and strategies of the ways that you put this into your marketing collateral, how do you think about that? What are some examples of things that you've done to communicate your positioning and your ethical marketing approach?

MS: Well, I mean, there's, it's almost like twofold. There's the actual, very like intentional application, which is like, getting into the marketing magazines into the travel trades into our customers that this kind of ethical marketing policy even exists and that's something that's a little bit more kind of obvious and overt.

But then the whole key is that what we wanted it to, we didn't necessarily want it to be as explicit, but we wanted it to kind of this idea that we wanted to check it to feel a lot more diverse, a lot more inclusive. It should be a very natural thing. We didn't want to make it feel for us.
And I think that was something that was also really important as well. And again, a barrier to start, it was kind of this idea that, like, how do we make sure that, like, investing more in DEI is like a performative box checking exercise. And it's actually intentional allyship. And that was something that the consultants really help with as well.

And that was something I would really, really encourage. We realize that we were all looking at this through a very insular lens, and we didn't have the diverse voices in the room and things like that. And we were kind of scared to engage in some of that dialogue and having those consultants help break down those walls and listen to our concerns and they just, it was that system change of you reaching out to consultants because you want to be more diverse and you want to change your systems marketing, it’s not performative, it's intentional allyship. And that was such like an easy kind of just systems change for us. I'll use an example, Annette Richmond, she helped consult around the plus size community and size inclusivity, and she runs a great organization called Fat Girls Traveling. And she was like you know what, in your ethical marketing guidelines, you should have a target to post 20 photos of plus size travelers on social media every single year. Isn't that just like checking a boxes like that? She's like, no, like I go on trips all the time. You have so many plus size travelers that love Intrepid and you're, you know, you can just, you can do that.

And we would love to do that. And she helped kind of you break down those barriers and you start realizing that for whatever reason, you've created these kind of biases on yourself, and you've created these things where. Your own perceptions and your own fear are actually stopping you as an organization from progressing the work and being able to kind of talk to people and bring other people who see Intrepid and see your business very differently really, really help break down those walls.
So I think that's probably something that I can't stress enough how important those 6 external consultants were and future consultants continue to be as we progress this work because they're the ones that are really helping us understand where we can be doing better and actually providing a fairly tangible path to progressing the work.

BB: It's important to have the voice in the room, right?

MS: Definitely.

BB: So, you mentioned checking a box for the purposes of plus size travelers and 20 pictures annually. Do you ever get, I mean, we've just discussed that there are people that feel that is not checking a box and that's why you do that, but do you ever get pushback on social, on channels where you're publishing these things with people saying, this is just checking a box. Why are you doing this as an organization?

MS: We get a lot of criticism, and we're not scared of criticism. I think if you're actually, if you're not getting criticism, you're not getting complaints, and you're trying to please everyone, you're probably not doing impactful work.

And your brand probably sits a little bit too much in the middle. And that's something that we need to remind ourselves a lot, because I think our natural instincts when we get it. Complaints or we get criticism is to kind of pull back and like, you know, waiver on our convictions. And that's something that we've really needed to kind of check ourselves with over the past year.

We talk a lot about being a brave brand and what that looks like. And being a brave brand means we're not afraid to go 1st and we're not afraid to stand by what we believe in, and so those are the kind of things where we've gotten a lot better at embracing conflict and conversation where it really comes in is not really so much people criticizing that it's like kind of checkbox or tokenistic or anything like that, but it's people who just fundamentally don't have the same beliefs as we do as an organization who don't believe that.

We get a lot of people who criticize other people's lifestyles, other people's beliefs, and that for us is where we take a step back and we truly believe that travel is for everyone. And when those kind of critics and those conversations come, we don't shy away from them and we kind of embrace them head on.

And we have gotten a lot more comfortable with losing customers because we would much rather have a brilliant community of the right customers than this ginormous community of the wrong customers that end up getting on the trip and creating a terrible experience for the community and our travelers.

BB: So the tagline, just to clarify, is travel is for everybody, but just not necessarily with Intrepid.

MS: It's honestly on some level, but the idea of like we have a fairly hard stance around hatred and negativity and bigotry and things, and we love, like, embracing difference of opinions and things like that. But when it becomes to a point where people are actually being critical of one another and things like that, we have a fairly low tolerance for hatred, racism, sexism, as I'm sure most people should and do, and I think what it's been revealed for us is that we, when we were kind of just building a brand that is just, we don't want to be a brand that can just take you to, take you to Machu Picchu or take you to the Taj Mahal, and there's hundreds and hundreds of companies that do that.

When we approach our marketing, it's kind of this whole like why now? Why Intrepid? our job as marketers isn't to get people to see the world it's to get people to see the world with Intrepid and that's been a really defining thing of the brand and I think this whole approach to ethical marketing inclusive marketing has really allowed us to know like exactly the type of customers and community that we want to build and be okay that Intrepid may not be for everyone

BB: Yeah, I think we find a really deep alignment on that. We have a not everybody is meant to work with everybody approach to business as well, and I think it's so interesting to hear about all this yesterday in our daily huddle, a team member brought up, multiple team members actually brought up our initiative that we're working on right now to find a nonprofit diversity based travel organization to do some pro bono work for or with.

So if you can think of anybody that fits that criteria, let us know but I guess that's broadcasting to everybody who's listening to this as well because we're really wanting to make an impact. And the thing that we know how to do best is that marketing work rather than being on the ground and packing food boxes.
I think that the best thing that we can do is provide what we know for free.

MS: Amazing.

BB: But moving on to just a couple more things that I think would be really helpful to cover. Has there been any evolution? I know it's been three years, I know you started this in the pandemic which is honestly an unusual investment of time and money when there isn't much of that through at least on the travel industry, but how has it changed? What have you learned?

MS: Yeah, I mean a lot, a ton, you know, we just so this year I mean at the end of 2022, there was the 1st kind of full year that they were in place. So they kind of, we started in the summer of 2020, we started the development over the end of 2020 into 2021, and then we published them publicly in the middle of 2021 with January 1st, 2022 being the 1st full year.

We just did our kind of annual impact report and update on it, and we 18 out of the 23 metrics that we were able to achieve. And, the other were kind of close, but there was areas that we just realized that, like, what we started to realize is that there's actually a lot of limitations that are the systems change that we have to create. Like, we found that there were not a lot of Indigenous and First Nation influencers, for example, or if there were, we were being unsuccessful in trying to find those communities and tap into them. And what we started realizing is that this work is actually much bigger, and we actually have to change a little bit more about how we even approach influencer marketing.

So, as an example, one of the things that has stemmed from that is a new partnership where we're focusing on mentorship trips with influencers. So we're working with an organization called No Madness. They're one of the largest, if not the largest kind of BIPOC travel organization focused on influencers and creators.

And what we're doing with them is, is doing a mentorship trip where we take 3 or 4 established BIPOC creators and then give opportunities to 3 to 4 up and coming BIPOC creators to go and great opportunities to create content and learn from established creators and give opportunities for people who maybe have not been able to secure brand deals who want to get into the space who aren't who for other reasons and potential barriers and potential systemic inequalities that are not being aware are not given the same opportunity as other creators. So we're really understanding that we actually have a role to play in the health of the industry more broadly. And then we've also had a lot of amazing people reach out.

We just had a Canadian Paralympian who's a single amputee and she has a physical disability and she's going on one of our trips and she reached out just to say, like, hey, like, I noticed that these guidelines don't cover anything to do with physical disabilities and mobility issues.
I'd love to, I'm going on a trip with you and I've been on trips I'd love to work. And so we had a call her, and we're working through some sort of arrangement now, or we can help her go on a few trips and she's going to consult and help connect us with things and really understand and start evolving into that.

So, I think accessibility, both physical accessibility, web accessibility are now going to come into the 2024 iteration. And those are the types of things that are kind of evolving, so I think where we are is. We'll kind of strengthen the core of it and then I think over the next couple of years, we'll continue to introduce new verticals and new areas as we kind of see fit.
And as we get more and more feedback, and amazingly, more and more people who are willing to help us and want to engage with Intrepid around this work.

BB: Yeah, the thing that surprises me is that one area of the market, specifically people with physical disabilities or physical impairments. It's a very underserved part of the market. I remember there's a company that just raised some VC funding. I think Alvarez Silverstein is the, or Silverberg is the CEO and it's called Wheel The World.

And they just won a big award at focus right last year. And I think that there's a lot of hope. I hope there's a lot more to come in that space because I have a number of people in my family. I can think of one person in my family I went to a hotel with them. They booked an accessible hotel room.
They couldn't even fit their wheelchair between the bed and the wall.

MS: Yep. And that's a perfect example and definitely a big shout out to Wheel The World who we've worked with them on many projects and we've collaborated with them and love the work that they're doing. And that's when we talk to this consultant or potential consultant, she's making us aware of these astonishing numbers and statistics around, 1 in 4 us adults have some sort of physical disability.
And that's where you kind of come into it. It's like. Okay. This, this ethical marketing guidelines and this approach to diversity, equity, inclusion, like, this isn't like, I think it's a really important thing. Like, we don't see this in position. This is like charity work. Like, this is central. These are people. These are human. This is the addressable market of the United States and the addressable market world. These aren't like niche communities, this is actually the reality. This is very, very deeply human. And these are the people that are customers that are, and there are future customers, and there are current customers, and we have to do a better job of creating space and conversation to celebrate them and celebrate our voices because these are our existing customers now.

Specially as we approach these conversations around disabilities and accessibility. I think this is another one where we probably haven't engaged in it because it is difficult because I'm not really sure how we're going to get someone in a wheelchair if they want to do Everest base camp, or if they want to do, you know, a certain boat in the Galapagos, like they talking about doing that for 1000 trips around the world in 110 countries is a really big and daunting task.
But this is kind of why we have to start at least chipping away at it and creating some meaningful progress. And, you know, with some of these consultants around, we don't, we probably don't have any. And I know that we don't have a good resource having blogs on, hey, here are the top 10 intrepid trips, the most accessible intrepid trips, or here are certain trips.
You can like, it's just little things like that that we can start doing and creating a guide and creating a framework. But for us, these are the things where a consultant like that can really help us, like, kind of chip away at it. And the idea with this whole thing is we're not trying to fix the big problem.

We're trying to make progress and we're trying to be better. And we're trying to just, you know, be a little bit more inclusive, a little bit better than we were last year and last month and yesterday. And I think that's really helped us create the most, like the biggest progress as an organization, because we understand that it's going to be evolving and we understand that the issues that impact the customer of tomorrow and the customers over the next decade, they're going to be issues that don't even exist right now.
We're going to have to be very responsive to that as well. So it's this whole evolving conversation, which is just, I think, an important thing for marketers to really keep in mind.

BB: Yeah, that's an incredible perspective. I think that the last real question I've got is more a question for you. And not as much about Intrepid. How have you changed learning about, I mean, is this a world that you came from before? Or is the DEI space something new for you? How have you changed through this process?

MS: I think, I mean, so for me, like I've been at intrepid for 10 years and I studied community based tourism and sustainability in university and so I really kind of took a very academic lens to the power of tourism when done right to make a really, really positive impact on communities.
And conversely, Was able to do it on an academic level. A lot of case studies and examples of how tourism done wrong can have really, really bad impacts and really adverse effects on communities. So I think I always had that kind of lens and that I really care and I started as intrepid as an unpaid intern because I didn't get the 1st marketing job I applied for, but I was like, no, I love Intrepid and I went on this trip with Intrepid.

I feel really passionate about marketing and organization that I really believe in, and so I was able to kind of weasel my way in the door, a story for another day. But as I started kind of getting more into the storytelling and meeting more of these people on the ground and really understanding, I started to kind of realize that the best stories and the best trips and the best moments are from these, rooted in this idea of like doing good of these amazing community exchanges and these conversations and these travelers who are literally having like life changing moments.

And, you know, the life changing moments weren't happening by taking a selfie at the Taj Mahal, or taking all these, like, these tourist sites that are just like, you know, season, seas of people just taking selfies for social media. There were these moments that were happening when you took the cooking class, or when you went to this Intrepid Foundation project, or you did, you know, these really amazing grassroots home stays in this remote community on the borders of Peru and Bolivia, these were kind of the moments where it was this idea that like doing good is good for business. It's good for communities. It's good for our travelers and really just doubling down that, like, this is what intrepid is there's a there's 1000 organizations that can take you to check a box to see a major tourist site.
But if you really want to have a really kind of transformational impactful trip that is not only transformational and impactful for the traveler, but it is transformational and impactful for the communities that you visit, which is the most healthy kind of tourist setup that is really where intrepid kind of shines.
And that's really where I think the passion really stems from is that it's just, you know, a different way to travel but that's rooted in really doing good.

BB: That's awesome. Well, Mikey, I appreciate it. One more question for you. Where are you going next?

MS: Yep. Great question. Intrepid has an amazing, this is like now I'm doing a little like HR, we're hiring, but we have amazing benefits at Intrepid. We get five weeks vacation a year and a free trip. So you can go on any of the trips for free every year. So for whatever reason, my twin brother has weaseled his way into going on the trip with me every single year and we create a hashtag.
So, a couple years ago, we did Twindia we did our Real Food Adventure in India, then we did Twin Peaks, we did a trekking trip in Patagonia, and our next trip is, oh, and then we did Twiceland, we did Iceland together, and now we're doing the South Korea Real Food Adventure. In October with the working hashtag of twin bimbap.
So that's just about the nerdiest thing that we do. But honestly, it's like one of those just fun little things and so, yeah, I think South Korea will be South Korea Real Food Adventure. It's an 8 day trip. It has a monastery stay and so amazing cooking classes and explores this really cool craft beer scene that's coming up.
So really, really excited. And I know the team there pretty well, they're awesome. So, that will be me in October.

BB: Okay. Well, that goes down in the records as the best answer that I've gotten to that question since starting this show. I really appreciate it, Mikey. It's been awesome learning from you today. I think that you provided so much value and really shared what it looks like to do DEI right, and I appreciate it so much.
Thanks for joining us today.

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