Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lonely Planet Staying Relevant

Lonely Planet is the world’s best known travel brand that sells 6.5 million guidebooks a year.

New Zealand travel publishing companies will be closely following the performance of Lonely Planet as inspiration for their own future economic fortunes.

The UK based travel media company that is majority owned by BBC Worldwide was able to turn a UK£3.2 million loss in 2008/09 into a £1.9 million profit for the year ending March 31 2010 largely due to digital innovation.

Last year digital grew by more than one third and now accounts for 22 per cent of Lonely Planet's total revenues. Web traffic is also on the up with visitors increasing by 7 per cent. While still a core product, traditional guide books are dramatically trending downwards with revenues falling by 25 per cent. 

Print is still the backbone of the company, however Lonely Planet are keeping up with a rapid consumer shift and have been investing heavily in digital delivery of travel information. This has included travel applications for mobile devices such as the highly successful iPad app “1000 Ultimate Experiences” and the recent launch of interactive e-books for the iPad should also prove popular. 

As the world's most recognised travel books, it is a major event when the new Lonely Planet directories are released every year. It is a worthy news item as oversensitive Kiwis seem to be as eager as anyone to find out what others think of them;-)

Tourists continue to give Lonely Planet a lot of credence with their travel decisions and it is pleasing that New Zealand gets some very good press as a tourist destination, however there are some amusing exceptions:
Auckland: The rest of the country loves to hate it, tut-tutting about its traffic snarls ... With its many riches, Auckland can justifiably respond to its detractors, 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful'. 

Bay of Islands: Gets a mostly positive review but is also singled out for being expensive and a teensy bit overhyped. The budget goes out the window as a bewildering array of boat trips clamour to wrestle money out of your wallet. 

Christchurch: Christchurch is now embracing the increasingly multicultural nature of urban NZ society. 

Dunedin: Long credited as New Zealand's indie-music heartland and definitive student party town. 

Hamilton: It is difficult to imagine the decadent The Rocky Horror Show came from Hamilton. Perhaps it's a sign of the rising fortunes of Waikato farmers that the city's main street has sprouted a sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries ... that leave Auckland's Viaduct Harbour for dead in the boozy fun stakes. 

Invercargill: Flat and suburban, with endlessly treeless streets, Invercargill won't enthral you if you came here via the Catlins or Fiordland.

Kaitaia and other parts of the Far North: Are noticeably economically depressed and in places could best be described as gritty.

Rotorua: Although landlocked, Rotorua compensates with boiling mud. With more motels than nights in November, the urban fabric of 'RotoVegas' is far from appealing - but still, where else can you see a 30m geothermal geyser! 

Wellington: Is a proud, tight-knit town, where the citizenry are convinced they're living in the world's best-kept secret".Wellingtonians lay passionate claim to the crown of 'cultural capital', and the mantle is surely theirs.

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