With the tidal wave that is social media, online shopping and internet accessibility on the go, the future of print media is often called into question. But as we fly the flag for magazine publishing full mast, we wanted to find out how the hotel guides are coping with the pressure to go digital and whether their future as a trusted source of recommendations is secure. We spoke to CEO of the Good Hotel Guide, Richard Fraiman who is championing the longevity of the print hospitality guides and feels they have a place in the industry for years to come.
How are you adapting your product to keep up with the market shift, as more people access content and information online?
Our view is that we want to continue to offer our trusted reviews in whatever format our readers want to receive them. The print guide is still very much the heart of our operation. We are still fiercely independent, we pay our own way when we inspect hotels, and hotels cannot pay for an entry in our print guide. Its publication is an annual event, and gives focus to all our efforts. There is still a market for the print version of the Guide, sales of the print Guide have held up pretty well over the past couple of years. Many of our readers like to curl up with the Guide in bed, or keep a copy in their glove compartment. This year, our expert reviews are better than ever…
Our readers also like the ability to read about our hotels online. We know there is lots of competition online, our view is that the user generated content sites like TripAdvisor are necessary but not sufficient. We offer a single, expert review of the hotels in our Guide. We have done the hard work already. We offer much of our content for free online, and it is important for us to have a vibrant website and digital presence. In fact, as we continually strive to improve our digital offering, we are launching a new website (www.goodhotelguide.com) in the first week of October. This will be a more dynamic, fully responsive website, with a much richer search function, and with bigger photos and will be more readable. Our website is also the only place that you can find reviews of our 400 plus international hotels. We include more than 200 hotels in France and many others all over Europe. We believe all of the above ensures that we continue to be a great source for those independent, discerning travellers looking for quality, interesting, characterful places to stay.
How are making sure you engage with online readers, without neglecting readers of the print edition?
We are engaging with online readers in all sorts of ways. We are very active on social media, with approximately 6,000 Twitter followers and over 1,000 Facebook fans (both social media channels up 50% YOY). We are also active on Instagram. We also produce lots of online “listicles” for some quality online media, including The Independent, The Standard, MSN Travel and Huffington Post USA, and we are always looking for more outlets to carry our trusted content. These articles broaden the reach of our brand and our content. We have a well-read monthly digital newsletter. We plan to grow all of these areas over the months ahead. None of this neglects our print readers because we continue to put out a high quality print product for them.
How has the consumer towards the GHG changed over the years? What are you noticing about them now?
Our reader has actually remained quite consistent over the past few years. Perhaps more discerning now than they were. But still they want to find the places with character with great service, interesting food and a special atmosphere. They are certainly more comfortable with all kinds of digital media than they were a few years ago. But we are still highly trusted by our readers, and that counts for a lot.
What is your relationship with hoteliers?
We are highly trusted by hoteliers. We provide them with direct referrals, which are much more valuable than OTA customers. And the articles we produce for our media partners provide them with publicity that many of them couldn’t get on their own. Many of them are very proud to be in the Good Hotel Guide, and we give them great tools, like window stickers and our logo for their website to help them promote the fact that they are in the Guide to their customers.
Where do you think the future lies for the print copy of the Good Hotel Guide?
We will continue to publish the print guide, it’s an important part of our overall publishing formula, and as long as our readers keep buying it!
What’s your targets and aims for GHG going forward?
We have several aims:
- To grow the traffic to our website. We would like to double or triple traffic over the next couple of years.
- To increase the number of people reading our monthly newsletter, interacting with us on social media, receiving our special offers and being exposed to our content.
- To increase the number of reviewers that send us reviews.
- To continue to work to help independent hoteliers survive and thrive.
How will you work to grow the brand now?
The annual publication of the Guide always helps us grow our brand both with our dual audience of consumers and hoteliers. We generate some excellent PR. Our annual Cesar Awards are highly coveted. The Daily Mail usually publishes an annual feature on our Cesar Winners, and we generate lots more PR. We also have our annual Editor’s Choice Awards, where 10 hotels in each of 20 categories like “Romantic”, “Rooms with a View” and “Seaside”. These are great for our readers and also generate lots of PR for us and for the hotels in the Guide, and we celebrate with our Editor’s Choice winners at the Independent Hotel Show.