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While most people still used Lonely Planet (and guidebooks in general) for preplanning, they reiterated what I kept hearing on the road: the books seem to get more out of date, the writing has lost its edge, the guides have gotten more upscale and less about offbeat and budget destinations, the website is hard to use, and blogs are often better.
Here’s some examples of common responses (click here to see them all): Over the years, travelers I’ve met in person have echoed the same complaint: that LP’s special is long gone.
For good or ill, Lonely Planet often made destinations, hostels, and restaurants.
Sure, its guides became synonymous with mass tourism, but for me, they were a great resource to thumb over while on a bus or train, or in a hostel.
So, in the end, you get this disorganized — and often wrong — book. If I wanted an endless list, I’d go to Trip Advisor or Yelp! Here’s an example of LP’s California page in 2010 and now:2010: Now: In the old version, all the essential information is on the page (and if you go to the link for the page, you’ll see that essential information is just below the fold).
”While it’s still the largest guidebook company in the world with 25% of the market, it’s fallen from its perch as “the bible” for budget travelers.LP has this giant content management system, where the author submits their research and, from that, they make the guidebook.But I’ve been told that now, after writers enter information into the database, another person — who may have no knowledge of the destination — comes along and assembles a book.Travelers, while still using the guide, don’t like it as much.I still see people using guidebooks on the road so the problem isn’t that people don’t use guidebooks. Last year, the CEO was interviewed in and talked about how he was making LP an uncurated (my word) travel content company: “We’ve never looked at Lonely Planet just as a book company, or a guidebook publisher — in fact my first interaction with Lonely Planet actually was on our website, probably when I was in college — we’ve always looked at it as a content company.”But guidebooks are not content companies, they are curated resources from experts.
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Multiple sources reached out to me for this article to describe their experiences with Lonely Planet since the buyout.