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Interview with Kevin May of Travolution

Kevin May is editor of Travolution, an industry-focussed magazine for online travel and division of Reed Business Information.   It consists of a blog, e-news service and a physical magazine, and is a leader in its field with an advisory board that comprises some  of the biggest names in the travel industry. What is it that  you do exactly?
I am responsible for all editorial content on Travolution, including our magazine, website and blog. I also produce our fortnightly podcast, The Purple Pod, and organise our conferences and other events as well as oversee the Travolution Awards. It’s a busy job!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
The most rewarding aspect of editing Travolution is being able to track and analyse such a wonderfully diverse and innovative industry as travel and its use of the web. Equally, as a journalist at heart, when we set the record straight or uncover a scoop still gives me an incredible buzz. I’m very lucky to work with some fantastic writers and reporters.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
Hanoi: easily the most fascinating city I have ever visited. My wife and I stayed there during a seven-month jaunt around Asia in 2000. We were mesmerised by the colour and smells, the French and traditional Vietnamese quarters, and – whether it exists in reality or not is another question – a sense of proud nationhood. A remarkable capital in a remarkable country. Varanasi (Benares): This central Indian city is an assault on the senses and consciousness. Despite it being a place where many people come to die (simply because of its proximity to the holy Ganges river), life abounds everywhere. The customs associated with death, while perhaps alien and odd to some westerners, are seen as life affirming to Hindus, giving it the feeling of being a place where people actually come to celebrate life. My wife was also taken very ill here so I have the utmost respect for Indian medical staff forced to work in, er, challenging conditions. Lake Toba, Sumatra: The most beautiful place I have had the pleasure of visiting. Once a sunken caldera (super-volcano), currently a giant lake, Toba has incredible feature, plant life and a real feeling of isolation. There are few places on earth that have had such a dramatic physical history and the laid-back attitude of the people is in absolute tune with the environment around them. An almost perfect location on many levels.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
I spent four days practically marooned on a slow boat travelling across the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. I ate rice every meal as – being a strict vegetarian – the boiled ‘something’ didn’t appeal and there was absolutely nothing else to eat. After finally arriving in Siem Reap, I ate almost everything I could on the menu at the guesthouse – mounds of vegetables, a huge omelette, slice after slice of bread, any fruit I could get my hands on, cereal, yoghurt… everything. It might not sound like a feast for a king, but it tasted so good.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
I have been fortunate to meet many wonderful and talented people through work or when travelling, although I have a tendency to steer away from so-called celebrities, even when given the opportunity. In fact, most of the “richest” people I’ve met are probably those that have created a fantastic business and subsequently reaped the rewards for their innovation and passion for travel and the Web.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wishlist?
I am currently at that stage, with a young family, where I am yearning to return to places I have visited previously, primarily – though not guaranteed at all (!!) – in the vain hope of sharing the experiences I had. I hope to return to Angkor Wat in Cambodia one day and also trek the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (a three-week hike). Egypt, Mexico, Peru and New Zealand would also make my current wishlist. Unfortunately the overseas trips of a business magazine editor these days consist primarily of enjoying the inside of some very nice hotel conference suites. A shame really…
Thank you, Kevin. And keep up the good work at Travolution!

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Many thanks to Mr Kevin for your kindlywords about Hanoi Vietnam. Not a reason that i i fell in love because i was born in Hanoi but even once i was away from it to many different beautiful cities in the world i still miss Hanoi so much. It must have something i can not discrible but so powerful like smell from coffee shop in early morning or a bunch of flower from old lady sitting on narrow street with a beautiful warm smile…..

  2. I agree, Hanoi is an incredible place which is quite unlike any other – if you can stand the cacophony of noise. I’d like to go back some day.

    The food is pretty good too in many places, with still much of the old French influence. One time I was given a menu without prices in a pretty nice restaurant. Urghh! Scary. But I went for what I wanted anyway and the bill came to only a few dollars. (I don’t recommend doing this!)

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