With 65 countries under his belt and counting, 29-year-old Thomas Bray is committed to seeing as much of the world as he can.
Bray got the bug in 2009, long before he joined Intrepid Travel. After college, he worked in Australia as a conservation volunteer for six months, then travelled around the country and visited south-east Asia.
A ski season in Meribel followed – funded by a job back home in a supermarket – then more travelling in South America, before some time spent in Japan as a ski instructor.
A travel highlight was the six weeks Bray spent with friends driving a rickety tuk-tuk around India, raising money for Water Aid along the way.
Bray speaks fondly of the experience, and of India – his favourite country. “We had a tent on the roof of the tuk-tuk and camped in local villages. It was a very off-the-beaten-track experience. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone sometimes,” he says.
In 2013, Bray joined the team at Intrepid Travel as an adventure specialist travel consultant.
He quickly impressed colleagues with his strong sales performances. In his first year, Bray won the bestseller award in the UK. Then in 2016 he bagged the Europe, Middle East and Africa best sales performance award.
Both wins allowed him to travel to Intrepid’s Melbourne office as part of the prize.
Bray cites an ambitious nature and wanting to progress his career as reasons for leaving Intrepid for a brief stint as a car salesman.
“It wasn’t for me,” he admits.
“It was too corporate and cut-throat, so I came back to Intrepid in 2016.”
The career change taught him a valuable lesson. “My dad always said: ‘Money doesn’t make you happy but it makes things easier.’ In travel, you won’t get rich but if you’ve found something you have a passion for, it’s worthwhile.”
Bray returned to Intrepid, taking on a new role as sales team leader, managing both a UK and German sales team.
He has clearly embraced the new role and its challenges “I used to love being one of the top sellers; now I love seeing the sellers grow and hit their targets.
I like to see a happy, committed team – then I know I’m doing my job well,” he says.
Bray has relished the challenge of “on-the-job learning”, steering the team to a successful 2017 and hitting an ambitious target of 26% year-on-year growth.
Bray has ambitions to grow at Intrepid, whether working as part of the senior team in London or in one of the company’s offices worldwide.
For young hopefuls starting out, Bray’s advice is to be tenacious, even in the face of setbacks.
“Before Intrepid, I went for a job with Audley Travel and didn’t get it because I didn’t have enough experience,” he explains.
The setback taught him resilience – a quality he thinks will help others to succeed.
“Be patient and be persistent,” he advises. “Make the most of being young – and travel. Do what you love and it’ll all come good in the end.”
Nick Hughes, sales director, tour operations – B2B Europe at Gold Medal and Travel 2, sponsor of Tomorrow’s Travel leaders, says:
“What I especially like about Thomas’s story is the way his passion for travel really shines through. Knowledge is power when it comes to selling something as personal and exciting as a holiday, and he is unashamedly excited about experiencing as many destinations as possible while also expanding his understanding of different cultures.
“It’s his enthusiasm and desire to learn as much as he can about the world around him that has spurred him on to thrive at Intrepid. He has quickly risen up the ranks to become a sales team leader and delivered successful year-on-year growth.
“I’m sure his brief stint as a car salesman will have given him invaluable customer experience and the ability to think on his feet and close a deal.
“His new role back at Intrepid sounds challenging yet rewarding, with the right mix of responsibility and targets. It’s the perfect blend for somebody as ambitious and passionate about the travel industry as Thomas.”