10/31/2013 05:27 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Guidebooks Vs. New Travel Media: Can They All Get Along?


The travel media landscape is changing.

Newspapers are hiding behind paywalls. Travel magazine budgets are drying up. Then there are sites like ours, Global Yodel, that enable travelers to bypass the middleman and learn about a destination directly from the people who live there.

How does all this change affect guidebooks, perhaps the oldest form of travel media out there?

Global Yodel sat down with Rebecca Behan, Marketing Manager for DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, to discuss how DK is adjusting to the shifting landscape, embracing travelers' ever-changing needs, and, in the process, becoming more relevant than ever.


Global Yodel: Today's travelers have access to a ton of free trip-planning resources. With all of the content available online, why do you think they still turn to guidebooks?

Rebecca Behan: I think travelers find guidebooks help them have better trips and better travel experiences. Online research can take up a lot of time. Guidebooks do all the hard work for you. You have an expert in your pocket who has done all the research -- and made all the mistakes -- for you.

Guidebooks also serve travelers by being reliable, independent and transparent. With a guidebook you'll always know how that information was gathered and by whom. Our writers are seasoned, experienced travelers. We focus on helping travelers understand the stories behind the sites: the culture, history and even the geography that shapes a place. It's one thing to visit a historic cathedral. It's another thing to walk through it with an illustrated 3D map. You're not just seeing something; you're understanding it.

GY: We hear you are redesigning the guidebooks in honor of DK Eyewitness Travel's 20th anniversary. First off, happy anniversary! Second, tell us about the redesign and how the improvements better serve travelers.

RB: Thanks! DK Eyewitness Travel has always been the guidebook for visual thinkers. The books have always featured full-color photos and custom illustrations. What's the cliché: "A picture is worth 1,000 words"? That's really true!

We wanted to stay true to the guides' strengths and, at the same time, refresh them and add new features. The guides have been reworked from the front to back cover. They now include itineraries based on trip length and interests, like culture or shopping, to make trip planning easier. We also expanded our restaurant listings to include iconic establishments as well as new restaurants that reflect how a city has evolved.

All of this is in addition to the updates we make each year to guarantee our information is accurate and relevant.

GY: What's your favorite new feature from the redesign?

RB: The interior design. To some this may be more subtle, but for me it makes the information even more accessible and easier to read. The at-a-glance guide has always set us apart. Like the name applies, with just a glance you get exactly the content you need paired with stunning visuals that provide context.

With the new design, my eyes are focused on what's around me, not buried in my guidebook or glued to my phone.

GY: Who are you as a traveler? What are the resources you use to prepare for a trip?

RB: It's probably no surprise that I'm a guidebook person. When I'm planning a trip, the first thing I do is go to the book-room in our office. Its floor-to-ceiling shelves are lined with travel books of all kinds: driving guides, huge guidebooks, Top 10 pocket-size guides. It's crazy and wonderful. It's the best thing you've ever seen.

I'm a very opportunistic traveler. If I have a long weekend, I'm going to check out the Catskills upstate. If my friend is getting married, I'm going to explore the wedding location. Traveling, to me, is all about small moments of discovery.

This is the reason I love Global Yodel. It's people sharing those moments of discovery and showcasing the extraordinary that's present in their everyday lives.

-- Helen Anne Travis for