How travel media is coping with Covid-19: 'Not making any money is quite liberating'

Just over a month ago Travel Trade Gazette chief executive Daniel Pearce gave a masterclass at the Making Publishing Pay conference on running a growing and diversified independent media brand.

Today, with the world in lockdown, TTG has been forced to furlough a third of its 30 staff and take the weekly print edition digital.

But speaking on a live webinar with Press Gazette this week from his spare room in Surbiton Pearce appeared undaunted.

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He said: “We are still thriving to this day but just like pretty much any other business at the moment we are not actually making any money, which is a challenge for us at the moment.

“But in a curious way it is also quite liberating. For us to accept that at the current time has enabled us to get very creative in the way that we respond and we are responding to the crisis.”

TTG is running daily online events: interviews, panel discussions and conferences.

And together with some rival titles it has launched the #OneTravelIndustry campaign in which it is highlighting positive news during a decidedly negative period for the industry it covers.

Pearce said: “From the beginning we set out to find some of the positive stories that might emerge. Particularly action points that are creating some positive benefits that other travel professionals can learn from. It was these early stories that sparked this idea for the One Travel Industry movement.

“What we want to do is share as many positive learnings and stories as we can with the wider travel industry. We approached other travel media and decided to share each other’s content through as many platforms as we can.

“We find ourselves sharing content and messaging from our competitors. Whilst we are competitors there is only one threat and one thing we are competing against and that’s the challenge that unites us all around the coronavirus crisis.”

Also speaking on the webinar was Bev Fearis, UK editor-in-chief of Travelmole, who said: “Travel industry consortiums had begun to work together rather than keep advice and tips with their own members, I could see there was a change in the way people were thinking and it seemed a good idea to jump on board.”

Georgia Lewis, managing editor of Travel Bulletin, shared one example of positive industry news she has covered as part of the campaign.

“One that I really loved was from bus tour operator in Wales, they’ve volunteered to drive NHS staff to work for free. That epitomised to me what the industry is about.

“There’s a lot of virtual tourism going on at the moment. Virtual fam trips for agents to show to potential clients to help them sell advance bookings for next year during the down time.”

NI Travel News editor Kirsty Johnston has written about restaurants providing meal delivery services for the elderly and Derry airport providing free parking for NHS workers.

She said: “We’ve tried to keep the industry together. We love getting together and meeting up. We are missing that personal interaction.

“Across our social media we are doing profiles asking people things like have they tried any fun holiday cocktails at home?

“The whole industry has come together volunteering and keeping each other mentally sound during this time.”

Talking about the changing editorial approach at Travelmole during the crisis, Fearis said: “We’ve taken an editorial decision to cover a different side of things with the campaign ‘Smashed It’.

“We asked travel agents to give a shout out to airlines and operators who had been particularly helpful to them during the early days of the crisis. It’s the sort of thing we wouldn’t have done in past.

“Journalists look for stories where there is a problem. In this scenario you want to make sure you are spreading the love division.”

Asked how he sees the travel industry and the media bouncing back from coronavirus, TTG’s Pearce said: “Early on we took the strategy to do the very best job we could to support our customers and audience…

“We are staying as close to our market we can. We have rebudgeted and reforecast the business to focus on the commercial aspects later on this year.

“The possible outcomes change every single day. We have a series of scenarios we plan for from the travel industry coming back this year to later scenarios.

“The most important thing for any media business is to plan. There is a tremendous pent up demand building for holidays in the future.”

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2 thoughts on “How travel media is coping with Covid-19: 'Not making any money is quite liberating'”

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