The Lonely Planet Speaks

The other day I had a great opportunity to meet and greet the CEO of the travel book publishing company Lonely Planet .  The Cornell Alumni program, here in the Bay Area, put on a reception/lecture in Berkeley.  I drove into Berkeley, parked and walked across the street to the Hotel Shattuck Plaza .  In all my years of going to Berkeley I never knew of this very cool hotel.  They have a fantastic bar and restaurant area next to the main lobby.  It was pretty busy for a Tuesday night.  I went into one of the ballrooms to find the event.  They had some nice appetizers sitting on a table in the corner.  They had 3 different kinds of cheeses, Humboldt Fog, a Gruyere, and a Blue Cheese.  They served that with sliced baguette.  They also had some fresh fruit, a roasted vegetable platter, a couple puffed pastry items with filling and small potato pancake topped with lox and cream cheese.  They had a bar serving your basic Central Coast Cabernet and Chardonnay, beer and soft drinks.

I was talking to some ladies there; they seemed to be frequent travelers.  One had gone to India for a three-week tour last December.  She said it was the highlight of all her travels so far.  Another lady said that she just got back from Greece and had a great time.  Like many of the other people who came to see Matt Goldberg, Cornell alumni, all were very much interested in travel.  A number of people in the crowd are avid Lonely Planet travel book readers.  The company started about 37 years ago by Tony and Maureen Wheeler.  They started traveling with backpacks because they didn’t have a lot of money but loved to explore.  So they kept good notes of their travels and started their first guide.  It was designed for travelers who were traveling with their clothes on their backs and to this day, in general, it still is.  They have kept up with the current times and have an application with the I phone and I pad and can be found on Facebook and Twitter as well.  Yes, Lonely Planet was the main guidebook for those traveling on a budget and seeking the roads less traveled.  Lonely planet has produced and sold over 100 million guidebooks, they have over 450 employees worldwide and have over 300 authors who contribute.  Matt says that their ultimate goal with their books were to “use travel to break down walls between people.”  He also said some clues to traveling safely and comfortably are “to keep your wits about yourself, and to smile more than you frown.”

Matt was a very dynamic speaker.  The audience was very receptive to him and his work ethics.  There were some very good questions about where Lonely Planet will be going in the next 5 to 10 years.  Matt couldn’t say much because things aren’t yet set in stone, but their plan is to be around and in the front foreground of all travelers needs.

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