Simon Parker is an award-winning travel writer and broadcaster with features regularly published in The Telegraph and broadcasts on BBC World Service. His latest TV series, Earth Cycle, recently won Broadcast Programme of the year in The Travel Media Awards. Simon is never one to stand still and has reported from over 100 countries, most recently he completed a 5,000km solo tour of Britain as the pandemic loomed. We catch up with him to find out what he is working on for the coming year.
As someone who spends their lifetime travelling, how have you found the transition to home life?
It’s been a mixed bag, to be honest. I used to do about 40 trips a year, zigzagging around the world – trying to establish myself in the industry – but this whole experience has made me readdress that. Looking ahead, I want to do fewer, but more significant trips, so longer form projects that I can really get my teeth stuck into.
How has work / life changed for you?
At first, the pandemic was bad for travel writers, for obvious reasons. But I’ve tried to use it as an opportunity – to develop new ideas I’d never had the time for before now. I’ve had a lot more time to rest and plan, which is hard to come by during a normal frantic year.
There will be such a pent-up desire to travel that tourist boards and operators will be on overdrive.
What would you forecast for the industry for the next 6 - 12 months?
I think it will be a big one. There will be such a pent-up desire to travel that tourist boards and operators will be on overdrive. As Britain becomes vaccinated, we will gravitate towards other places that are too. So, I think this will focus the mind a little – we could see tourism booms in unlikely places, based purely on who is and isn’t vaccinated.
Under usual circumstances, how do you come up with story angles?
My ideas are quite reactive. I like newsy ideas with a strong news hook. Something that really feels exciting, rather than just a junket to a new hotel or a free holiday. I read a lot of newspapers and follow the news quite closely. I like to visit places with timely hooks.
How do you work with your editors?
I’m lucky that the editors I work with tend to share the same philosophy. At The Telegraph, for example, I pitch a lot to the online travel desk. This is quite fast turnaround stuff, with a hook that day or week. I enjoy the rush of a tight deadline. I also love cycling and adventure and one of my editors, especially, is really into that too.
What ways can travel brands help you acquire the information you need to construct a great story?
From my perspective, the sponsor has to enjoy helping the journalist facilitate whatever story it is they are chasing and not the other way around. I’d like to think I’m writing stories that are interesting as pieces of travel writing and not just adverts for hotels or brands. That’s rarely what the reader wants to read. Story should be first and foremost, and then rumbling in the background is the inspiration.
What has been your most memorable press trip?
I’ve gone on lots of crazy trips over the years, but I loved my first trip to the Seychelles. It was one of my first ever trips as a travel writer and I travelled to several islands. I couldn’t believe that this was my job – something that I’d always strived to do. I’ve been back once since and I’m eager to get back.
For more information on how you can garner the influence of some of the world's leading media for your brand, get in touch.