On April 4 in London, hundreds of the travel industry’s brightest and best will gather for Skift Forum Europe 2017, our first conference in Europe. In only a few short years Skift’s Forums — the largest creative business gatherings in the global travel industry — have become what media, speakers, and attendees have called the “TED Talks of travel.”
This year’s event at Tobacco Dock in London will feature speakers including CEOs and top executives from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Norwegian Air, Google, Lonely Planet, Momondo Group, and many more.
The following is part of a series of posts highlighting some of the speakers and touching on issues of concern in Europe and beyond.
At a time when many consumer travel media brands have struggled to stay both profitable and relevant, Lonely Planet CEO Daniel Houghton has helped the former guidebook publisher adapt in an era of digital disruption.
Since Houghton took over the reins of Lonely Planet in 2013, the company has moved deeper into strategically packaged media and the digital space. It recently revamped its web presence and expanded its Guides by Lonely Planet app to feature content on more than 100 cities. It also launched a print magazine in late-2015, showing the virtue of publishing different content on different platforms.
At Skift Forum Europe in London, Houghton will discuss the future of packaged media onstage alongside SUITCASE Magazine CEO Serena Guen.
What follows is an edited version of a recent Skift interview with Houghton.
Skift: A lot of consumer travel media companies have tried to crack the digital space. What has Lonely Planet done to stay relevant as more travelers move away from the traditional paperback travel guide?
Houghton: There’s a lot going on. We’ve aggressively rebuilt our mobile web and main web platform, and that’s obviously been ongoing for a few years. I’m really excited about that, and excited about what’s happened with the guide mobile app. We’ve aggressively expanded the cities from 30 to north of 100. We’ve got a big year planned, and have got a lot of stuff done in the last few quarters. We’re still expanding our content coverage with more books and types of content, more coffee table trade and reference titles, things far beyond just guide book content.
Skift: Do all these different platforms fragment your audience?
Houghton: We’ve got different perspective. We have a core audience that is a fan of our blue spine guide books, we release different collections like our ‘best of’ series. It’s more about having a different product based on the kind of travel you want to do. Lonely Planet’s been in the business for forty years and has always been an innovator in the print space and we have no intention of doing anything other than that.
Skift: You have different customers looking for different things. How do you ensure all your different products are meeting their needs?
Houghton: Lonely Planet means a lot of things to a lot of different people. Some people may have never bought one our books but watched the TV show. Some people may just subscribe to the magazine and don’t have an awareness of the other platforms. We want to strengthen those from an ecosystem point of view and push really good content. The most important piece has been authenticity; it’s great content that helps you discover incredible places. We’re very proud of that, but also excited to create content to inspire people when you’re not on the road. We all don’t get to travel all the time.
Travel is culture, history, and the whole world. Just because you can’t go anywhere at this moment, we still want to interact with and reach those people.