New ideas in travel publishing

With guidebook sales on the slide, what are travel publishers doing to embrace new digital formats?

The future of the guidebook – a series of guest posts by Mark Henshall

This is the third in a series of five guest posts – today answering the question:

How can a traditional guidebook publisher innovate its way out of the declining guidebook market?

Regardless of the format, the starting point still has to be excellent quality content and expertise. Even before we get into delivery/platform discussion, I think long-term (and especially since the Google Panda updates) this is paramount. I also think it is worth not losing sight of the fact that high-quality travel experiences can be life-changing; creating rich, meaningful stories. You want to match that passion within the travel community by creating the most inspiring and imaginative tools for travellers - from print to online to apps.

To be relevant it’s important to experiment, be flexible, evolve products for a rapidly changing market and know your audience. Publishers need to drive innovation and technological advances to create exciting and indispensible products, strive to improve content, and form solid and productive relationships with authors and partners.

The digital arena offers a huge opening for Publishers looking to be creative and offer travellers stimulating new content. Perhaps because the wider community (e.g. Science, Technology, Education) at Wiley (Frommer's' umbrella publisher) demanded digital early on we’ve been able to move travel towards other platforms quickly. Peter Balis, director of digital content sales for Wiley’s P&T division, has recently outlined how this digital shift and new infrastructure happened.

Some of what we’ve been trying at Frommer’s lately has included a significant new push on to create rich, engaging content (news, features, expert advice & travel ideas, tips & tools, newsletters, forums, deals, slideshows…), resulting in both a rapid growth in page views but also in reader engagement (which, interestingly, is much higher with users browsing on an iPad). Frommer's is also developing new apps, ShortCut e-books; Remix custom guides; and engaging more widely through social media. It’s also a time for trying new partnerships such as Frommer’s collaboration on the new Wenzani app with Lonely Planet and Time Out, breaking new ground.

On the B2B side, Publishers can also obviously gain from the flexibility of high quality content with detailed metadata to provide inspiring local detail and travel experiences, insider knowledge and a fresh perceptive. Here’s a look at what we’ve been working on for clients from WTM in November.

It’s a really exciting time to be in travel publishing. When you have an idea you’re thinking ‘could this make an online feature, app, enhanced e-book, short e-book, video, slide show, audio guide, series, standalone book?’ Or all of the above.

The digital world creates a really exciting arena to reach readers in a creative way.

What other challenges and opportunities do you see for guidebook publishers?

Image by WanderingTheWorld

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