Lonely Planet has a gorgeous brand new office in Melbourne and a whole lot of contagious energy to match! I met with impressive Director of Sales and Marketing (Asia Pacific) Chris Zeiher who showed me around. I was lucky to catch him between his trips; he had just flown in from London and was off to Sweden in a minute.
The company was the brainchild of husband and wife, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, who finished their world trip in South East Australia 42 years ago and thought it would be a good idea to document their travels, trials and tribulations. What started out as a book written on a typewriter and sold for AUD$1.80 was then purchased by BBC Worldwide and is now owned by American company NC2Media. Lonely Planet books are now printed in 14 languages with half of the sales being in languages other than English (Chinese, French, Italian and Russian topping that list). Who knew?
Renowned for their comprehensive travel guides for adults, Lonely Planet has branched out to cover every mindset for travel; Are you a child going on their first trip somewhere? There’s a series of books for you. What about foodies? There are a special range of Lonely Planet Food books for you. Language may be a problem? Try the compact phrase books. Long, leisurely stay? There are in-depth guidebooks for you. Just going to one city and back home? There is a city guide for you with maps. Interested in wild travel? Great Adventures? Great Escapes? Wine Trails? Gap Years? Road Trips? Yes, there are Lonely Planet books designed especially with you in mind. Aspirational Traveller? They’ve got you covered with the Ultimate Travelist. These books are so clever and really do inspire you to travel.
Lonely Planet has 220 active authors who are all travellers, writers and have a personal voice reflected in their writing style. This is what sets Lonely Planet apart – it’s the personal experiences and voices of their guides, not just encyclopedia listings. Another clever part of their concept is that they take input from the community on their Thorn Tree travel forum (a concept based on traditional African forums) where people can log in their travel experiences. This way the publishing company receives constant and updated information to keep their publications fresh and relevant.
Best sellers to date? ‘Japan’ says Director of Sales and Marketing Chris Zeiher in an instant ‘and therefore the Japanese phrase book. Maybe because it’s such a different culture and people think they might need a bit of help or background with it’. Second is the New Zealand guidebook as it’s such a family friendly destination for Australians and third is the Ultimate Travelist inspiration book which is beautifully designed and filled with gorgeous photos of places to travel to. Trends for short stays are also strong with the Tasmania travel guides and South Australia answering this demand and do look out for fabulous The Travel Book for Christmas 2016.
I loved the new Lonely Planet offices with the departures and arrivals lounge as the waiting area, the meeting rooms with luggage tags – of course – to label each room; Haneda with sashimi mats and Iceland with iceberg carpet and Borneo jungle themed break out areas. Such a great, inspiring company to work with and creative new offices to reflect that energy. And I think every office needs a fun table tennis table. Don’t you?