Telum Talks To... Michael Wang, Editor-in-Chief, Lonely Planet Magazine China

Telum Talks To... Michael Wang, Editor-in-Chief, Lonely Planet Magazine China

Michael Wang, the Editor-in-Chief at Lonely Planet Magazine China, has a mission of telling stories about the world so that his readers can understand every aspect of it. It all stems from a belief that everyone can travel and explore every untouched corner even without setting foot outside the room. Telum Media has recently caught up with him to get to know more about his role and his recent work.

You have been the Editor-in-Chief of many famous travel magazines. What is special about Lonely Planet Magazine China compared with them?
Lonely Planet Magazine China is popular and called the backpacker's bible. In fact, besides backpackers, many people who travel for business, family or other purposes are willing to use the magazine to learn about the destination's content and information. The greatest feature of this magazine is that it is informative, accurate and pays attention to first-hand experiences. We send our authors to go deep into the local area, spend a lot of time doing in-depth research, and capture all kinds of practical travel tips and interesting perspectives on the road with a unique perspective. The magazine is committed to its purpose of “exploring every corner of the world”. We also want to provide readers with a visual perspective. At the same time, there is a spiritual aspect to travel as it is an exercise of self-growth and value realisation. Therefore, in terms of content, it is to explore the many lesser-known travel destinations to inspire readers. There is more to travel than the experience itself. It is enlightenment – both culturally and spiritually.

As one of the best reference sources for backpackers and tourists around the world, how does Lonely Planet Magazine China usually come to confirm its topics?
We emphasise relevance and inspiration in the selection of topics. Relevance refers to grasping the dynamics of travel trends and digging out the destinations and travel modes that readers are most interested in and eager to know about. For example, with the popularity of some films and TV dramas, their filming locations gradually enter the vision of travel enthusiasts. We produce content in such a way that these film fans who love to travel can have a reliable source of reference. We want our content to inspire readers to explore the big wide world through different means and interpretations, and to understand the cultural, historical and indigenous aspects of it. Although sometimes readers may not be able to experience the scene personally, reading these pictures and texts can also bring them a lot of enlightening thinking and perception.

After the COVID-19 started, tourism is one of the most affected industries in the world. What new concerns have emerged in the industry?
Basically, many travel projects were put on hold due to the pandemic. We lacked first-hand interviews and material collection. But at the same time, I have more time to read and discuss with my team face-to-face on content planning. It has been a good soul-searching exercise for every one of us on the way forward. The pandemic has brought the tourism industry to a temporary halt. But it has also given the industry, especially resource providers, some food for thought about how to polish their products and improve their core competitiveness. It has also given us time to explore ways to innovate in response to the increasing prevalence of visual content and live broadcasts. But it will still take a while to come to a conclusion on what it will mean for us.

Do you think there will be any changes in people's demand for travel after the pandemic subsides? Will the continuation of pandemic change how people travel?
As much as people want to come back out when the pandemic is over, the biggest change may be that people will pay more attention to their real needs. The world is ever-changing and time is so precious, so people will make the most out of their limited travel time each year. It is obvious that people will strengthen the experience that meets their own needs. I think all kinds of travel forms will appear and the main purpose is to give tourists what they like and enhance the experience.

Before focusing on tourism, you once worked for the BBC and The Times in London. What were your areas of coverage at that time?
I was working for Shanghai Daily at that time, and I was lucky enough to go to London for an internship through the scholarship programme provided by CAIJING Magazine. I also worked briefly at the BBC and The Times, where I mainly covered finance and business, as well as cultural and social news.

Among the places you have written about, what is your favourite destination?
If I ever have a chance, I would like to explore Japan thoroughly. As much as it is fascinating and outstanding, Japan is also complex and there are a lot of contradictory elements to it. I would start with its culture, followed by other areas from politics to history as well as the formation of its national character. I would also like to explore South America. I think it is a treasure of the world. Life is limited, but exploration can be endless. To summarise my life pursuits, they are “explore, create and inspire”.

What types of PRs do Lonely Planet Magazine China often work with? What are the differences in the forms of cooperation? 
We work with all types of companies in the travel industry with one goal in mind – generate premium content and inspire readers. With this goal in mind, we do not discriminate between different types of companies. It’s always pleasant to work together as long as we share the same values.

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