Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lonely Planet to open an offline store at Sydney Airport with help from Lagardère

Last week TripAdvisor announced another step in its plan for world online travel content domination with the acquisition of a meta search engine ( and a large travel social network (Virtual Tourist). Lonely Planet - arguably the number one offline travel content company - has gone completely the other way by announcing plans to open a Lonely Planet concept store at Sydney Airport. This store (I am quoting from the DFN Digital article)
"...will sell the full range of Lonely Planet books and a range of travel accessories and gift items. It will also feature online interactive portals showcasing Lonely Planet’s digital content, and staff will be trained to offer specific travel advice to travellers."
In other words, books, magazines and young people who should know what they are doing. The store will be operated by Lagardère Services Asia Pacific who are famous for running Airport book stores and news agents.

I had hoped that after the sale to the BBC, appointment of new online staff and attempts at launching new onlien products that Lonely Planet would finally take the steps necessary to turn themselves into an online content company and join the now 15 year old online revolution. But instead the quote from Lonely Planet sales and marketing director Howard Ralley about putting the Lonely Planet brand on a store front is that it is
"an exciting evolution for our brand. It's something we've discussed for some time."
I think that this was time that should have been spent opening up the brand, site and content to online distribution. Am I being too harsh? Do you think that the next frontier for Lonely Planet should be offline?

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