The Chicago Travel and Adventure Show returns with 350+ exhibitors, 30+ seminars, and top speakers including Rick Steves, Samantha Brown—and Pauline Frommer, who will offer money-saving vacation tips, address the ways in which personal info is being “scraped” by the travel industry and reveal the best destinations of 2017. If that’s not enough, the co-president of Frommer Media also took time out for us.
Janet Arvia: You’ve been traveling since you were an infant. How has that shaped your personality?
Pauline Frommer: I hope it’s made me an open, tolerant and curious person. Those are the benefits of travel, I think. There’s a dangerous wave of nationalism, both here and abroad that’s been taking over political discourse. If we all traveled more, we wouldn’t let xenophobia shape our world views to the extent that it now does (with often tragic results).
The travel industry has changed a lot since your father Arthur Frommer founded his guidebooks in 1957. How will you ensure travel guidebooks survive the digital revolution?
We at Frommers feel that there will always be a place for solid travel journalism, and that’s what we offer. We hire the best writers, often journalists at the top local papers and magazines, to cover the place in which they live for the Frommer guidebooks…Our authors will have visited all of the hotels in a specific town. When you go to a user-generated review site, you’re taking the advice of someone who’s been to exactly one place, and may not know that just up the road is a hotel that’s less expensive and nicer…The Frommer guidebooks will be turning 60 this year, and we’ll be celebrating in a number of ways. Go out and buy a book—one of our guides would be nice, but really any book helps support the publishing industry. If you want good journalism to survive, it’s important to support authors and publishers.
The Frommer name is synonymous with travel yet, for a brief time, Google took the brand over. Now that your family is back in control, what are the company goals?
When we reacquired the guidebooks, we called the company Frommer Media LLC, not Frommer guidebooks. That’s because Frommer’s goes well beyond paper guidebooks. We have a mobile-compatible website (Frommers.com) that is one of the biggest players in the industry, with guidebook content for every destination on the planet, travel news and all kinds of advice articles. For over a decade and a half, we’ve had a nationally syndicated radio show, which is still a radio show, but now the podcast of it has become wildly popular…We have apps and ebooks and intend to create more, and hope to work in the VR realm as well as video in the coming years.
Pauline Frommer can be seen at The Chicago Travel & Adventure Show (Jan. 21-22) at Rosemont’s Donald E Stephens Convention Center. Visit www.TravelShows.com/chicago for details.