10 Questions for (16): Kevin May of Travolution (formerly) – Tnooz (currently)

Happy to present Kevin Luke May of Travolution [update: Kevin cofounded Tnooz after the interview] to you. Yay! The second male in this series! Am glad I have a photo of him where he smiles (a bit), because usually he likes to look as stern as possible – no he didn’t work for Der Stern (German Gossip) – 🙂

Kevin as part of a Blogger forum at ITB Berlin

1) Who Are you?

I am Kevin May, editor for three years of Travolution, the UK-based media brand for the online travel industry. I have overall editorial responsibility for our website, blog, magazine, podcasts and video content, events and awards programme, speaking engagements and research projects. I was previously web editor for advertising and media title Media Week, deputy editor of a regional newspaper, The Essex Enquirer, and a writer for the Police Gazette. I studied criminology at university.

2) What do you like about what you do?

The opportunity to understand and write about one of the most diverse and fascinating industries in modern business as well as meet some fantastically innovative and entrepreneurial people, all of whom are incredibly passionate – like me – about the internet.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?

Long working hours and appalling work-life balance.

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.

The Travolution Blog is just one element of what we do alongside the other editorial products I oversee. The blog is primarily to comment on issues or point users in the direction of other relevant content related to online travel that we find elsewhere on the web. We also use it to poke fun at the travel industry in general, which isn’t difficult! It has also been a very useful shop window for users to see the other things we do as a media brand. Two of my writers, Linda Fox and Martin Cowen, also contribute regularly.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

  1. Hanoi, Vietnam (crazy city – colour, life, history, mayhem everywhere).
  2. Annapurna Region, Nepal (trekked around Annapurna Range for nearly 4 weeks and saw the most incredible landscapes, met some life-long friends, and got very fit in the process – extremely rewarding).
  3. Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia (a forgotten world, a sunken caldera volcano, rich in wildlife and extremely friendly people. Very few tourists there in 2000 as well as the Aceh conflict was still out of control).

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?

  1. Shangri-La Resort, Muscat, Oman (the first REAL five star hotel I’d ever stayed in. The hotel had only recently opened and it was immaculate. The service was awesome and the rooms were incredible).
  2. Munchies, Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand (a collection of rustic huts just yards away from the sea. 15 friends congregated there for Christmas and New Year in 2000 and the vibe was amazing. Coconut Olympics on Christmas Day!!).
  3. The Grove, London (I won a non-travel industry competition, I hasten to add, to stay for one night in the capital’s top retreat-style resort. Fantastic rooms, beautiful spa, stunning food in the restaurant).

7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?

  1. The Grove, London (see above).
  2. The Gate, London (best vegetarian restaurant in London by a long shot. Imaginative menu, beautifully prepared, brilliant service).
  3. Ad-hoc barbeque, Lake Toba, Sumatra (joined a group of locals to catch fish in the lake, picked fresh vegetables, freshly cooked bread, all eaten by the lake as the sun went down. Perfect!).

8) Your 3 worst destination/accommodation/food experiences to date and why?

  1. My wife was rushed into hospital in Vanarasi (Benares) in India. She was in intensive care for a few days with an extreme case of Delhi Belly – in other words amoebic dysentery and other stomach infections. An absolutely terrifying experience.
  2. Not exactly a destination experience, but a decrepit bus I was travelling in from Vientienne (Laos) to Hanoi (Vietnam) began filling with smoke in the middle of the night on a bumpy Vietnamese highway. Mass panic amongst the sleepy passengers as we scrambled off. Luckily no-one was hurt.
  3. Standing at an ATM in Kuala Lumpur and my debit card expires. No travellers’ cheques or access to any money, so ended up borrowing £50 from Her Majesty’s Government (at the British embassy, in return for my passport) until my new bank card arrived five days later.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/food/accomodation/things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?

  1. Kew Gardens is an oasis on the edge of our capital city, close to Heathrow Airport. I regularly spend a day here with the family, wandering around the beautiful park and enormous greenhouses. Plenty here for the kids, too, and reasonably good value for money if you stay the whole day. Bring your own picnic!
  2. Use a top-up Oyster Card for the London Underground, bus network and Overground system. The best new system introduced to the network for decades, saving time, tickets AND money.
  3. Visit the Brick Lane and Shoreditch area for the best selection of Indian food and nights out in the city. Lots of good bars The area also happens to be full of new web-based, start-ups, so a real buzz about the place, even if it does take itself a little bit too seriously sometimes.

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
What is the difference between a blogger and a journalist? I am asked this all the time, often by people trying to trick me into saying something that damages one of these skills, probably as I sit in both camps! The real answer, which many Old School journalists despise, is that is very little difference between the two. The lines are increasingly blurred as bloggers ‘report’ on events just like reporters such as I do every day, while journalists write blogs so they can comment on issues in a way that is very different to the traditional op-ed, leader-style columns you see in newspapers.

However, we both write content which is read by consumers and industry people (increasingly blurred lines there as well, it must be said) and, on the whole, try to engage with our readers in the best and most efficient way. The channel is not important (blog, newspaper, website, TV/radio broadcast) how well you engage with the audience is critical.

I would say, however, a difference that prevails is the idea that many bloggers who do not work for established media companies think of themselves as being beyond accountability. I have seen on countless occasions bloggers who have written something which, produced by any traditional media provider, would never see the light of the day, or would end up in the libel courts. Blogging might be a niche distribution channel for content, but as it grows and becomes just another mainstream media outlet, more bloggers will find themselves increasingly under scrutiny by trigger-happy lawyers if they are not adhering to media laws of fairness in comment and, most of all, accuracy. At the end of day, we are all publishers.

My Observations:
Thank you Kevin for taking the time for this.

As to you last question: Very intriguing! I see a convergence occurring, but I also see many differences. I see myself more as a blogger and not so much as a journalist. That doesn’t mean I feel beyond accountability. I’ve been roaming the web for more than 13 years, but started only relatively late with reporting about my cyber adventures. I’m not edited. I’m the Publisher, Editor and Blogger here in the House. I’m an amateur in the sense that I do not rely on my blogging for my living, it’s a hobby. It would help if my blogging attracts more guests to my small hotel, but it is not my main goal of this Blog. My goal is more to share my own experiences in many fields and wonders about the big outside world. Moreover I’m a (very slow) two finger typist. As you I have a background in law and am too much aware of possible liabilities. Hence I always try to be my self. Honest, direct and sometimes offensive which also stems from the fact that I blog in another language than my mother tongue.

Last edited by GJE on August 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm

4 thoughts on “10 Questions for (16): Kevin May of Travolution (formerly) – Tnooz (currently)”

  1. I am a happy chap about, er, 30% of the time. 🙂

    [Ed: Note Kevin started Tnooz later after leaving Travolution so I took the travolution link away]

    Updated December 2, 2011

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