This weekend saw the Sunday Times forego its travel supplement, instead depositing the section into the back of Home, while other newspaper sections and supplements or magazines have ceased altogether. My own weekly Metro travel page (on a Thursday) would seem to be in the same boat, although I’ve yet to have confirmation.
None of this surprises. It costs money, lots of money, to print a newspaper and that money is chiefly (or entirely) recouped by advertising income – only that income is hugely reduced right now in the travel sector, as advertising companies desperately try to plug financial gaps elsewhere brought on by the near-global lockdown.
The squeeze is hitting travel PR companies badly, with lots of furloughing – everyone’s least-favourite new word – due to paused or lost clients. It’s a brutal time, a time of worry and dwindling morale. A time to somehow be endured.
And the squeeze is hitting travel freelancers like myself. Shrunken or vanished sections mean that there are fewer commissions to be had. That’s problem one. Problem two is that everyone – me, Lottie Gross, Ianthe Butt, even my namesake Rupert – will be struggling to dream up pitches beyond the same few, already-tired ideas: armchair travel, holidays to plan ahead for, ethical tourism based on our newfound goodness…
Last week I pitched some ideas to Hattie Sime at the Mail, including baking breaks – the hook being that, now we’ve all started baking banana bread, what better time for a piece about places to hone newly awakened culinary skills? Hattie replied (because she’s superb) and said it was a great idea (ditto), but that some bugger had predictably beaten me to it. Gah!
So I am trying to be ever-more inventive – I next pitched babymoons, based on the fact that a baby boom is being anticipated for next winter – and that’s what I also want to encourage you towards. This has already been a laudable period of PR invention and flair, and it needs to prolong. Beyond bread and baby-making, what other trends are we seeing? What else might come from this? What are we learning and how might that impact travel?