Gorkana meets…ABTA Magazine

Jo Fletcher-Cross, editor of APL Media’s ABTA stable, on the titles’ broad trade and consumer reach, wanting PRs to fuel ABTA‘s “culture content” and her second life as a playwright.

How have your first few months in the role been, and what do you want to achieve with your editorship?

It has been very exciting. I was told I would come on board at a busy time, and that has proved very much to be the case. I am promised a quieter time at some point! I came from a senior position in a different sector, so it’s been a steep and interesting learning curve.

I am hoping to take our online offering forward. We want to make it a treasured resource for both trade and consumers – we want everyone to use it.

What titles are under your remit?

I oversee ABTA Magazine – it’s the only official ABTA trade magazine and it has been published by APL Media for over 15 years. That is our core product and goes out four times a year.

We also have a daily magazine we publish for World Travel Market in November, our annual ABTA Golf publication and the ABTA Members’ Handbook, reimagined this year into five regional volumes and rebranded as CountrybyCountry Guide. All of these are geared up to providing an excellent resource for travel agents.

Tell me about your readership?

Our readership is made up of ABTA members, tour operators and travel trade industry professionals. There are some good travel trade publications out there – we’re not competing with them on rolling news; our strength is in our ability to delve into the industry issues applicable to anyone in the travel industry, whether that’s ABTA members, travel agents, heads of airlines or even cabin crew. It’s content that could be relevant for everyone.

How do you and your reporters learn about the industry?

At the World Travel Market in November, I got to meet everyone in the world, it seems – an informative and educational experience!

I encourage all our writers to meet and engage PRs and tourist boards to forge strong relationships, improve their destination knowledge and help them to prepare for commissions. APL Media also publishes National Geographic Traveller, Destination Vacation and ASTANetwork – there’s a lot of information sharing.

We also have a network of freelancers that are shared across the publications. Some do trade and some travel – it’s an interesting mix.

Being quarterly, how do you decide what news content should make it into the mag?

It depends on the timing. Our September and November issues went out close together, so those are inherently more newsy. We feature news and issues impacting the industry, from hotel openings to new flight or rail routes; APD and legislation changes; industry trends, marketing opportunities; Q&As with industry leaders; and report or analytical features.

And how do you decide on a cover feature? Are they seasonal?

It’s what we think the pressing issues are at the time. We try not to commission them too far ahead of time, but we try to ensure it is a current issue.

How is content shared between your website, Countrybycountry.com, and the magazine?

Countrybycountry.com is the hub of all our content. It features exclusive content including reviews and travelogues – but also all the relevant content from the magazine. The aim is to ensure it is a useful resource for the travel industry – and it is not exclusive to trade only, consumers can use it too.

With more than 150 destinations featured online, I want it to be an essential travel resource, not just for stats – the nearest airport, currency – but also to inspire itineraries based on certain traveller scenarios.

Who do you compete with in the online space?

I don’t think there’s another free resource that does what we want it to do or has that trade and consumer mix. Probably the World Travel Guide by Columbus Travel Media.

Do you have a good relationship with PRs?

Yes! With so much information readily available out there and a barrage of emails and releases, forging strong personal relationships with PRs makes things much easier in our jobs.

How can they help with content?

It’s hard to say as the product has been around for a while and the PRs in the industry know what to send. Cultural content would be very useful as it’s something I’m very passionate about!

And finally, tell me about your alternative career as a playwright?

I worked in theatre and ran my own company for ten years. I did a postgrad in journalism and as a child I wanted to be a playwright and a travel journalist, so I am genuinely living the dream!

Jo Fletcher-Cross was speaking to Gorkana’s David Keevill

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