As Content Creator & Travel Writer, my work with Frommer's has been featured in countless publications including the New York Times but as our times were changing and print was unable to keep up with the rapidly changing pace of how information was being gathered and shared, it became obvious to all involved that digital would have to take center stage. Print would be supplemental from now on, a highlight of our work rather than its main focus. Certainly to hold something in your hands, researched and written by experts that isn't reliant on wifi-reception and trends of the moment will always appeal to a number of travelers but digital would now require the lion's share of our attention.
The challenge was how to entice our existing readers and fan base into a new experience and a new way to enjoy our content without alienating them from the 'new way of things' and how to bring in new readers or 'participants' as we called them, in this day and age where everyone has their own "Top-10" list. We decided we wouldn't be the sole voice but rather we would open up our reviews for suggestions/comments from our readers, asking them if they agree or disagree with our picks/reviews and to offer us their own experiences and likes/dislikes and encourage them to interact not only with us but with one another as well. We all are critics after all and we all have our own experiences and together we would present a more accurate, nuanced and balanced opinion. We all experience life differently and we were eager to have our readers share their experiences with us.
As content creator and writer who is also a web and ui/ux designer, the challenge was an exciting one and the solution to our 'problem' was pretty simple. Try to make our massive content and years of expertise as playful, fun and interactive as possible; informative without being too wordy but also accurate, educational and up-to-date while taking into consideration and presenting the experience of other travelers. I don't think we were expecting it to be as much fun as it turned out to be. Interactive maps of all 'routes of interest' ranging from historic sights to bar crawls to multiple 'off the beaten track' suggestions; our 'best of' lists with interactive walks, menus and info pop ups, suggested time spent at each historic location along with the history of each site and continuously updated content in a city where bars, clubs and restaurants are continuously in flux in a way that print couldn't possibly keep up with.
In late 2012, Google bought the legendary travel-brand and at the time we all were cautiously optimistic about what the future held for the travel writing industry. Certainly the internet giant would have several exciting ideas of how and where to take the travel guide into the future. Unfortunately it became apparent in the first few months that Google wasn't interested in much except Frommer's impressive content which was used as Google's own travel opinion/reviews/info without a mention of author or contributor. Whatever their plans were for the future, they certainly weren't interested in taking Frommer's with them. Not even a year later, Arthur Frommer bought back his brand and has relaunched the series both in print and digital form. We are hoping Frommer's evolution will be as spectacular as its past. We don't believe the travelers' need for reliable information is something that will fade anytime soon.