Virginia Ngai, Hong Kong-based Director Strategy of Finn’s CatchOn & Co Ltd (top left, above), moderated a really useful webinar on travel media, on 14 May 2020. Her panellists were Fiona Kerr, Features Editor, Conde Nast Traveller UK, top right; Claire Irvin, Head of Travel, Telegraph UK, middle row left; Mark Orwoll, freelance who was once International Editor, Travel+Leisure, New York, middle row right, and Paul Bates, current Articles Editor Travel+Leisure, New York, who moved there from Conde Nast Traveler US and then Skift.
Luxury travel is not going away, said Mark Orwoll, customers will be coming back, a point backed up by other panellists.
And those travellers are reading – and print runs, said all the editors, are currently going through the roof. But, said Claire Irvin, the kind of articles she wants have changed. She is not commissioning lists of 10-best, or anything with superficial puff, or non-consequential food reviews. She wants good story-telling, she wants to laugh and cry. She predicts a future appetite for islands and remote places. Looking ahead, she hopes one lasting effect of global lockdown is that we will stop looking as travel as a right but a privilege.
Paul Brady does not see Americans taking international trips in the next couple of months but it is his job to continue putting stories out – and, by the way, Americans will stay home not only because of health concerns but possible travel disruption and also what would they find? If Venice’s little bars or Madrid’s tapas bars are not open, why go? This will mean that for the short term there will be a resurgence of drive in the USA and Amangiri will become the hardest place in the world to get into. As we move forward, Americans will want something even more special. The reason they travel will get more play, what do their decisions mean for the world? There is a need to be a little more thoughtful. Brady predicts Americans will start taking, say, a month off for sabbatical travel, and although some will never, ever, take a cruise, in general cruises will come back in a big way.
Fiona Kerr’s readers are strongly booking 2021. They are using this at-home time thinking of dream trips, and where they want to go (she has just commissioned articles, for September 2020, on South Africa and Thailand, and her use of freelance writers at destinations is not only continuing but increasing). She sees no problem with luxury travel going forward, and obvious decrease of over-tourism should help certain destinations attract more, and desirable, visitation.
Summing up, Girlahead thinks the luxury hotel sector should be encouraged, but it is time to exchange describing over-sized bathrooms and tacky recipes for in-depth, unique, stories. www.catchonco.com