G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip wants to bring about change, both within his company's organizational structure and across the global tourism playing field. He believes community is the route to take, as the company readies for seemingly long-overdue acquisitions.
G Adventures, the small group tour operator, is restructuring as G Travel Community (GTC). The holding company sets the scene to bring its existing brands into one stable but with expanded space for new brand acquisitions.
Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of G Adventures and the company’s former CEO, takes over as chairperson of G Travel Community when it is announced formally next week. The move comes two years after the company secured a large investment from travel-focused private equity firm Certares.
Poon Tip told Skift in an exclusive interview that the restructuring of the company is part of its five-year, mutli-brand strategy, focused on creating a positive impact through community-led growth across all spheres of travel.
‘Under no Pressure from Certares’
Despite not making a single acquisition since receiving its funding in February 2021, Poon Tip said the company has been “under no pressure from Certares to perform”.
“Certares are making zero demands on us, and while we have not made any acquisitions in two years, there is undoubtedly an expectation that we do,” Poon Tip said.
He added there is no risk to the terms of the investment agreement and the formation of the holding company shows they are getting ready to make some concrete announcements soon.
“Our goal is to bring more brands and travel companies under one umbrella to have a greater impact on a wider audience. We’ve had great success with what we do globally as G Adventures, but we have a limited scope on our audience.
“With the formation of GTC we are finally creating a community – a stable of travel brands that can really drive change to a wider demographic of people, who love to travel, but at the same time want to change the world,” said Poon Tip.
Poon Tip confirmed they have been in discussions with a few companies and would have liked nothing more than to announce the structural change, together with making a new acquisition.
“There are a number of sensitivities with these things. We just had a deal fall through in December during the due diligence process, but we’re really close now,” he said.
Senior Leadership Changes
The restructure also sees several senior leadership changes within the business.
Jeff Russill, currently chief operating officer for G Adventures, will become the chief executive officer of GTC, overseeing the G Adventures, TruTravels and G Touring brands.
Ben Perlo, currently managing director for G Adventures in the United States, will take on the mantle of president and chief executive officer for the G Adventures brand, in addition to his current role in the short-term. Perlo will remain based in Boston, United States.
‘Shared Services, Bigger Impact’
Poon Tip added that the new companies they’re planning to bring on board would need to fit into the intent and purpose of G Travel Community.
The brands retain their identity as before but benefit from centralized administration, distribution and tech investments the holding company would make.
He referenced the performance of Just You in particular, which G Adventures acquired in 2017 as an indication of brand strength and what they had planned for the community.
Just You and Travelsphere as G Touring join G Adventures in the GTC portfolio. Planeterra, G Adventures’ non-profit partner, will also benefit from this ‘shared services’ model.
As for its investor, Poon Tip said, “For 32 years, G Adventures has delivered the value, and I have no doubt we’ll deliver on the numbers and growth needed to meet the investment terms agreed to. But our goal is always to have a far bigger impact in the wider world of tourism.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referenced Just You had started as a single market operator in Asia.
G Adventures Founder Bruce Poon Tip Speaking at Skift Global Forum in September 2022.
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Photo credit: G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip in Machu Picchu, Peru. Source: G Adventures G Adventures / G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip in Machu Picchu, Peru.