In the first of a series of interviews from Travel Industry heavyweights, ASAP speaks to the Editor of Travolution, Kevin May.
Kevin May, Editor of Travolution
Q1) Could you give me a brief outline of your career, and how you got to being the Editor of Travolution?
I started in journalism as a sub-editor and then writer on the Police Gazette, which was published by the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard in London. After completing a degree in Criminology, I joined the Essex Courier (latterly the Essex Enqurier) before moving to Media Week as a reporter. I became web editor of Mediaweek.co.uk in 2004 and then joined Travolution as its first full-time editor in December 2005.
Q2) The World Economy is, to be fair, in a state of flux; how can the travel industry adapt to be profitable?
Look at costs, inefficient partnerships and weak distribution channels.
Q3) Leading on from that, where do you see the travel industry in the next five to ten years?
Further consolidation in distribution of mass market products – but then a long tail of specialist and niche travel providers.
Q4) How do you think Environmental Awareness amongst passengers impact on the industry?
It has started in some respects. Consumers are becoming more aware of their own impact on the environment and that of the travel industry. Awareness and action, however, are two very different things. UK holidays are, if reports are correct, booming but I suspect that is a consequence of the economic climate, rather than environmental concerns.
Q5) You have both a magazine and a website. Are looking to continue running both online and print or will your print magazine end?
We want to produce Travolution in as many channels as we can, and print (for high-end analysis) will continue to run alongside our website, conferences, awards programme and podcasts for as long as readers want it.
Q6) What do you think of Travel Blogs for the travel industry? Are they a good thing or a bad one (there is a debate about this on Travel Rants)?
Some of the best travel content on the web is written by bloggers, often better than the PR-fuelled stuff in the mainstream media. On the other side, a corporate blog is a useful way of having another relationship with customers. The challenge here is for the blog to create content which doesn’t just repeat the marketing material found elsewhere on a site and offers something different. Commentary on issues affecting consumers is a good approach.
Q7) Who do you think is a travel company that have got it right in this tough climate? ie are a company that is responding the best to this tough climate/age of the web?
The old operators are doing well. Consolidation needed to happen and the Big Two now have strong online strategies which – with their shops, call centres etc – allow them to cater for different types of buying behaviour.
Q8) If there were three things you could do to the travel industry to change it, what would you do?
1) Persuade the industry that outside influences are not a bad thing and change is an opportunity, not a threat.
2) Encourage it to take risks online, try new things out without months of “steering groups” and “development analysis”. The idea of a Perpetual Beta mode is something I believe in very strongly.
3) Try and come up with a fundamentally different airport experience. There really must be another way!
Q9) What is the best ‘must-have’ gadget you can’t leave home with when you go on holiday?
An MP3 player
Q10) What are the best places in the world to go to, in your opinion?