Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet

Overview
Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book
Guide book
A guide book is a book for tourists or travelers that provides details about a geographic location, tourist destination, or itinerary. It is the written equivalent of a tour guide...

 and digital media
Digital media
Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital form. It can refer to the technical aspect of storage and transmission Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital (as opposed to analog) form. It can refer to the technical aspect of...

 publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011. Originally called Lonely Planet Publications, the company changed its name to Lonely Planet in July 2009 to reflect its broad travel industry offering and the emphasis on digital products.
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Encyclopedia
Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book
Guide book
A guide book is a book for tourists or travelers that provides details about a geographic location, tourist destination, or itinerary. It is the written equivalent of a tour guide...

 and digital media
Digital media
Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital form. It can refer to the technical aspect of storage and transmission Digital media is a form of electronic media where data is stored in digital (as opposed to analog) form. It can refer to the technical aspect of...

 publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011. Originally called Lonely Planet Publications, the company changed its name to Lonely Planet in July 2009 to reflect its broad travel industry offering and the emphasis on digital products. After Let's Go Travel Guides
Let's Go Travel Guides
Let's Go is the first travel guide series aimed at the student traveler. Researched, written, edited, and run entirely by students at Harvard University, Let's Go was founded in 1960 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.-History:...

, it was one of the first series of travel books aimed at backpackers
Backpacking (travel)
Backpacking is a term that has historically been used to denote a form of low-cost, independent international travel. Terms such as independent travel and/or budget travel are often used...

 and other low-cost travellers. As of 2010, it publishes about 500 titles in 8 languages, as well as TV programs, a magazine, mobile phone applications and websites.

Lonely Planet also has its own television production company, which has produced numerous series: Lonely Planet Six Degrees
Lonely Planet Six Degrees
Lonely Planet Six Degrees is Lonely Planet's flagship travel show, hosted by Asha Gill and Toby Amies. The show is centered on unique people living within locations, rather than simply famous tourist attractions, with one of the hosts meeting with one contact in a specific country, who in turn...

, The Sport Traveller, Going Bush, Vintage New Zealand, Bluelist Australia and Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled
Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled
Roads Less Travelled is a reality-based travel series documenting Lonely Planet authors and photographers researching content for Lonely Planet guidebooks in realtime on the ground. Airing internationally beginning in November 2009 on the National Geographic Adventure , the program is a...

. Lonely Planet is headquartered in Footscray
Footscray, Victoria
Footscray is a suburb 5 km west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Its Local Government Area is the City of Maribyrnong. At the 2006 Census, Footscray had a population of 11,401....

, a suburb of Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Australia, with affiliate offices in London and Oakland, California. As of 2009, it was increasing its digital, online presence greatly.

In 2009 Lonely Planet began publishing a monthly travel magazine called Lonely Planet Magazine in the UK, and in 2010 it launched the Indian and the Argentine editions.

The company name comes from a misheard line
Mondegreen
A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. It most commonly is applied to a line in a poem or a lyric in a song...

 in "Space Captain," a song written by Matthew Moore and first popularized by Joe Cocker
Joe Cocker
John Robert "Joe" Cocker, OBE is an English rock and blues musician, composer and actor, who came to popularity in the 1960s, and is most known for his gritty voice, his idiosyncratic arm movements while performing, and his cover versions of popular songs, particularly those of The Beatles...

 and Leon Russell
Leon Russell
Claude Russell Bridges , known professionally as Leon Russell, is an American musician and songwriter, who has recorded as a session musician, sideman, and maintained a solo career in music....

 on the "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" tour in 1970. The actual words are "lovely planet", but Tony Wheeler heard "lonely planet" and liked it.

The Wheelers' first journey and publications


Lonely Planet's first book, Across Asia on the Cheap, was written and published by Englishman Tony Wheeler, a former engineer at Chrysler
Chrysler
Chrysler Group LLC is a multinational automaker headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA. Chrysler was first organized as the Chrysler Corporation in 1925....

 Corp and the University of Warwick
University of Warwick
The University of Warwick is a public research university located in Coventry, United Kingdom...

 and London Business School
London Business School
London Business School is an international business school and a constituent college of the federal University of London, located in central London, beside Regent's Park...

 graduate, and his wife Maureen Wheeler
Maureen Wheeler
Maureen Wheeler is a Northern Ireland-born Australian publisher and a co-founder and director of Lonely Planet Publications.Wheeler was born in Belfast and moved to London at the age 20, where she met her future husband, Tony Wheeler on a park bench in London on 7 October 1970...

 in Sydney in 1973, following a lengthy trip from Turkey, through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to India and Nepal. The popularity of this overland route, first undertaken by vehicle on the 1955 Oxford-Cambridge Overland Expedition, declined when Iran's borders closed in 1979. Written with strong opinions, it sold well enough in Australia that it allowed the couple to expand it into South-East Asia on a Shoestring (nicknamed the 'Yellow Bible').

Lonely Planet's first books catered to young people from Australia and Europe undertaking the overland hippie trail
Hippie trail
The hippie trail is a term used to describe the journeys taken by hippies and others in the 1960s and 1970s from Europe overland to and from southern Asia, mainly India, Pakistan and Nepal...

 between Australia and Europe, via South-East Asia, the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 and the Middle East. This was becoming something of a rite of passage for young travellers, especially Australians and New Zealanders, who spent months (or years) on the journey.

Tourist facilities were limited in most of the countries en route, and low-budget tourism was rare.

Tony and Maureen Wheeler wrote their second Lonely Planet guidebook, South-East Asia on a Shoestring, in early 1975 in the Palace Hotel at 407 Jalan Besar in Singapore.

Expansion


The guidebook series expanded initially in Asia, with the India guidebook, first published in 1981. In the 1990s the company expanded into Europe and North America. The company currently publishes about 500 different titles. In addition to books about most countries in the world, it also publishes a range of specialised thematic guidebooks. The current Lonely Planet range also includes hardback photography books, food guides, city guides, travelogues, diaries and calendars, language guides, walking guides and guides covering an area of interest in more detail, for example a Volunteer Travel guide or a National Park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

 guide.

Over the years, its target audience has expanded from budget-conscious backpackers to include more mainstream and affluent travellers.


Purchase by BBC Worldwide


On 1 October 2007, a 75% stake in the company was purchased by BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

, the commercial arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation, with the Wheelers retaining the other 25%. The Wheelers announced that this was so they could spend more time travelling.

On 18 February 2011, BBC acquired the remaining 25% of LP for A$67m from the Wheelers.

Internet presence


Lonely Planet's online community, the Thorn Tree, is used by over 600,000 travellers for trade tips and advice. The Lonely Planet website includes blogs, Facebook Connect, a groups platform, the ability to rate and review sites and restaurants, as well as a Trip Planner tool.

2006 climate change campaign


In 2006, Tony Wheeler launched a joint awareness campaign with Mark Ellingham (founder of Rough Guides
Rough Guides
Rough Guides Ltd is a travel guidebook and reference publisher, owned by Pearson PLC. Their travel titles cover more than 200 destinations, and are distributed worldwide through the Penguin Group...

, another established travel publisher) on the impact of commercial aviation
Commercial aviation
Commercial aviation is the part of civil aviation that involves operating aircraft for hire to transport passengers or cargo...

 on climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. The two companies urged their readers to "Fly less, stay longer" wherever possible.

Biography and business history


The founders, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, have written a book titled Once While Travelling: The Lonely Planet Story (known as Unlikely destinations: The Lonely Planet story in North America) telling how they met and married, how they travelled from London to Australia overland and how Lonely Planet was formed.

Banana Pancake Trail


A mention in a Lonely Planet guidebook can draw large numbers of travellers, which invariably brings change to places mentioned. For example, Lonely Planet has been blamed for the rise of what is sometimes referred to as 'the Banana Pancake Trail
Banana Pancake Trail
The Banana Pancake Trail is the name given to the well-trodden and constantly growing routes around South East Asia travelled by backpackers and other tourists...

' in South East Asia. Critics argue that this has led to the destruction of local culture and disturbance of once quiet sites. Lonely Planet's view is that it encourages responsible travel, and that its job is to inform people, and that it is up to guidebook users to make their informed choice.

Myanmar (Burma) guidebook and boycott calls


The publication of its guidebook to Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

 (Burma) is seen by some as an encouragement to visit that country, which theoretically supports its current military regime
State Peace and Development Council
The State Peace and Development Council was the official name of the military regime of Burma , which seized power in 1988. On 30 March 2011, Senior General Than Shwe signed a decree to officially dissolve the Council....

, against the wishes of the democratic opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, AC is a Burmese opposition politician and the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy. In the 1990 general election, her National League for Democracy party won 59% of the national votes and 81% of the seats in Parliament. She had, however, already been detained...

, and led to calls for a boycott of the company. Lonely Planet's view is that it highlights the issues surrounding a visit to the country, and that it wants to make sure that readers make an informed decision.

Kohnstamm's memoir


In April 2008, American writer Thomas Kohnstamm
Thomas Kohnstamm
Thomas Kohnstamm is an American author, and travel writer who worked previously for Lonely Planet.Kohnstamm's travel writing mainly covers Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to Lonely Planet, he has worked for various magazines and newspapers...

 published the memoir Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?
Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?
Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? is a memoir and gonzo travelogue written by Thomas Kohnstamm and published by Three Rivers Press.The book was met with a global media controversy prior to its release and positive reviews when it hit the shelves in April 2008....

, which touched on his experience writing a guidebook for Lonely Planet in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. After a review of Kohnstamm's guidebooks, publisher Piers Pickard agreed that no inaccuracies had been found.

Paradise Updated


In 2009, Australian author and former Lonely Planet guidebook writer Mic Looby
Mic Looby
Mic Looby is an Australian author and illustrator.A former guidebook writer for Lonely Planet, his debut novel Paradise Updated – a satire about the inner workings of a guidebook company – was published in 2009 by Affirm Press...

 published a fictional account of the guidebook-writing business which lambasted the travel guide industry, titled Paradise Updated.

Television Series

  • Globe Trekker
    Globe Trekker
    Globe Trekker is an adventure tourism television series produced by Pilot Productions. The British-based series was inspired by the Lonely Planet travelbooks and began airing in 1994...

    – television series (also known as Pilot Guides) inspired by and originally broadcast under the name Lonely Planet
  • Lonely Planet Six Degrees
    Lonely Planet Six Degrees
    Lonely Planet Six Degrees is Lonely Planet's flagship travel show, hosted by Asha Gill and Toby Amies. The show is centered on unique people living within locations, rather than simply famous tourist attractions, with one of the hosts meeting with one contact in a specific country, who in turn...

    – hosted by Asha Gill
    Asha Gill
    Asha Anand Gill is a Malaysia-based model, television host, deejay, veejay, writer, producer, film director, and women's rights activist...

     and Toby Amies
    Toby Amies
    Toby Amies is a broadcaster, filmmaker and photographer, best known for his work on Radio4, MTV UK's Alternative Nation, FilmFour, Lonely Planet Six Degrees and The Rough Guides. Toby specialises in making programmes about art, music and travel, with a special emphasis on fringe culture and...

  • Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled
    Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled
    Roads Less Travelled is a reality-based travel series documenting Lonely Planet authors and photographers researching content for Lonely Planet guidebooks in realtime on the ground. Airing internationally beginning in November 2009 on the National Geographic Adventure , the program is a...

    – A co-production between Singapore's Beach House and Lonely Planet Television, airing on the National Geographic Adventure Channel 2009-2010, RLT is a reality-based travel series following nine LP guidebook authors and photographers.

External links