For the first time since it was founded 33 years ago, G Adventures has a new leader, with longtime executive Ben Perlo taking over as CEO of the tour operator. His predecessor, Bruce Poon Tip, will become chairman of a new holding company, G Travel Community, which houses all of G’s brands. Travel Weekly’s Nicole Edenedo discussed the company’s changes with Perlo during his first month on the job.
Q: What are some of the changes happening at G Adventures?
A: Over the last two years, Bruce has been heavily looking into and reviewing acquisitions. He’s been pretty vocal about wanting to continue the growth of his overall vision of changing people’s lives through travel — not just organically but also through acquisition.
We started thinking about a shared services structure where we could leverage some of our technology platforms, our finance platforms, across a lot of the different entities that we had purchased — Travelsphere, Just You, Tru Travels. So we thought it was a good time to formalize that structure. We wanted this to become G Travel Community. We want to make sure that our approach to our different policies about things like animal welfare, indigenous community policies, etc., are able to morph into these other companies, enabling them to be more closely aligned to Bruce’s vision.
Q: What are the executive-level changes as a result of the formation of G Travel Community?
A: Jeff Russill is the CEO of G Travel Community. He oversees basically all of the acquisitions that we purchased and is focused on integrating them into our platforms. Bruce, as chairman, will still be very public-facing. He is taking on more of a leadership role and is very involved in formalizing and leading the acquisition strategy. And so now I’ll be heading up G Adventures as the CEO.
Q: What are some of your top priorities as CEO?
A: Hiring is No. 1 for sure, and that will probably be the case for the next year. We will focus on our travel advisor communities to make sure that they know G Adventures is there to support them. We’re continually updating our agent resources, engaging agents through partnerships with tourism boards and other organizations and more frequently visiting agents and partners face to face to make sure we’re offering as much support as we can. And then No. 3 would be our U.S. market focus and making sure that we’re setting up a long-term strategy that will be able to see success out of the U.S. market for years.
Q: You spent years as managing director for G Adventures’ North America division. How will that experience inform your new role as CEO?
A: My time as managing director has helped me become a stronger leader, to identify strengths within the organization, scale quickly and build a strong culture, which translated into aggressive growth pre-pandemic. Leading the U.S. gave me a deep understanding of the market but also an understanding — thanks to how closely the managing directors in each region work — that each market has its own nuances and is clearly not one-size-fits-all.
The past few years specifically have also taught me how to be incredibly flexible and nimble and to make sure the team, the business and our partners are in the best possible position to capture growth.
Q: What qualities is the company looking for in future acquisitions?
A: Speaking for G Adventures, our focus is very much about offering great product at a great value to all the different communities and travel styles that serve different demographics. So our objective is to make sure that we’re growing all of those different verticals at a higher rate of growth.