What it's like to work for a travel company

Welcome to Insight Guides! Here we share what goes on behind the scenes, from creating and selling beautiful guide books to putting together amazing trips.
Photo: APA Publications
Photo: APA Publications

Ever wondered what it's like to work for a travel publishing company? At Insight Guides, there's never a dull moment. Here, we share what it's like to work in the different departments of a travel-publishing house, spread across our offices in London and Warsaw. 

Editorial: Annie Warren and Zara Sekhavati

There are a few misconceptions about what it’s like to work in the editorial department of a travel publisher! People often think that we write a lot of the content ourselves. Though we do sometimes write articles for the website or even full guide books, more often we are commissioning trusted ‘on-the-ground’ freelance writers to produce new content and update our guidebooks. This way we can be sure we have the most up-to-date information. We then copy-edit the content to ensure that it reads well and fits our house style. We also work closely with our lovely colleagues in Production to make sure that everything fits and looks good on the page.

Production (DTP): Aga Bylica

DTP stands for desktop publishing. In a nutshell, it means preparing documents for printing using dedicated page layout software – InDesign. DTP involves graphic design, typesetting and all pre-press tasks. We collect graphics and prepare text, formatting these elements into a ready product (in our case, a travel guide). We then create and view an entire book, catalogue or a flyer on-screen, exactly as it will appear as a printed product. And it’s more than just printing publications – it includes PDFs and e-books too.

Pictures: Tom Smyth 

Here on the picture team we select, source and make print-ready all the images used across the range of Insight, Berlitz and Rough Guides titles. This includes colour correcting, cropping and double checking the content of any image that makes it into our final selection for each book. We still, very occasionally, commission photographers for specific projects, but the majority of our imagery comes from picture agencies worldwide. Another part of my job is negotiating fees and rights to use the pics with them. As we are handling so many images each year, not everyone of them will be a technical masterpiece, but we hope to find something that gives you a (positive!) emotional response. 

A selection of Insight Guides. Photo: APA Publications

Supply chain: Vicky Mullins

I am the Group Supply Chain Manager at APA. I work with our suppliers to get our books printed and then get them shipped to one of our four distribution centres across the world to make sure they reach all the retailers. From there, I monitor sales and make sure there is always enough stock in the market. I’m also involved in the planning of new editions. I work closely with suppliers, freight forwarders, warehouses and distributors as well as our internal sales, finance and production teams, so there’s lots of multi-tasking involved and never a quiet moment!

Sales: Vanessa Clarke

As Head of Sales, I oversee a team responsible for all UK and international sales for APA Publications, and I am the direct contact for UK wholesalers and major accounts. The role involves liaising with all departments – including production, marketing and editorial – and we always seek to be proactive with our publishing. I work closely with our MD to prepare sales budgets and forecasts. Communication with all my colleagues is key to the success of this role.

Sales: Ola Pflumio

As an Export Key Account Manager I focus on two areas important for our international sales: I work closely with our distributors in different parts of the world, as well as bigger and smaller accounts served by them. Having a good relationship with both is key in the world of publishing. The most exciting part of my job is probably the fact that I get to travel around the world to meet those people, take part in trade events and sales conferences. But there’s also a less glamorous side of it, which is just as important, and that’s working on sales forecasts and print projections for all my markets. 

IT and Office Manager: Paul Burton

My role at Apa is incredibly varied which is perhaps why I’ve done it for so long! My most important jobs revolve around data management and backup. We generate lots of data that needs to be accessed by staff both in the office and remotely, so our servers and online services need to be running well at all times. I also try to fix any software- or hardware-related issues for the staff as they come up, to keep uptime at a maximum. Besides this I look after the general running of the office and any associated contracts there. I’m also lucky enough to get involved in some of the larger projects, such as when APA acquired Rough Guides in 2017 and the subsequent move to bigger premises. The Boss often refers to me as ‘The Fixer’ because I like to get my teeth into any interesting challenges he might throw my way!

Insight Guides Trips: Franziska Wirth

Travel means a lot of different things to different people: gaining insight into another culture, admiring great architecture, or simply stuffing your belly with the most wonderful local food. No matter what tickles your fancy, working with local tour operators means you get a trip tailored exactly to your preferences. And that’s where our team comes into play: we carefully select and train these local tour operators and accompany you on every step of the enquiry and booking process, as well as providing any assistance you may need while on your travels. Our working days couldn’t be more diverse and exciting: one day we might be streaming a live training session with our Asian partners, while the next day requires our full attention to help a traveller in Ethiopia to catch his flight, having been switched to an earlier one by the airline: there’s really never a dull moment!

Travel may be on hold for the moment, but that doesn’t stop you thinking about where you want to go in the future and discovering travel in other ways. For compelling stories right from your armchair, listen to Insight Guides: the Travel Podcast. Each episode we focus on a historical or cultural story from a single destination, sharing in-depth perspectives from local experts. In the series we go from the depths of the Fez medina to learn about the history of the Panama Canal, explore a multitude of Japanese festivals and much more – just what you need to inspire your travel plans for later in the year. Listen to the series on Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes and your other favourite podcasting platforms.