Welcoming Lonely Planet to Nashville

Huh, I never knew

John Wark connected me with a chap named Mark Jennings a few days ago saying he was new in town and wanted to start meeting people in the local dev community.

He told me that Mark was with Lonely Planet, which I had never heard of before. Guess I've had my head stuck in the dirt for the past 30 years, because when I got home tonight, my wife told that it has always been her favorite travel brand.

So tonight both Mark and I were free so I stopped by their new offices (read about the local company that bought them) in the historic Factory at Franklin and after giving me a quick tour of the new space, we sat down and chatted about their plans to grow the business here in the Nashville area and the highly challenging problems they are going to attack to build the brand into a thriving digital powerhouse.

The transition from print to digital

Not a new story here. So many traditional print media companies have struggled to find a voice and a place in digital media, and the travel space has been hit particularly hard. Another one of my wife's favorite magazines was Budget Travel, but she has given up on that as their content declined and advertising increased.

Apparently Lonely Planet is looking to rededicate itself to establishing a digital and mobile presence and take on the problem of making it truly easy to make integrated travel plans: flight, hotel, tour, car, insurance.

It's the right time

Mark was telling me about his, and his company's, strategy for how to solve sophisiticated technical challenges, which happens to align with my views.

Namely, hire smart, ambitious, team-oriented folks, give them a goal and then get out of their way while they achieve it.

They are also a Rails shop with a strong focus on JavaScript strategy and mobile development. Sounds like a nice transition for Nashville Software School students!

Since he was very interested in becoming involved in the local community, I was telling him about all the Meetup groups, conferences, and Hackathons that his team could get involved with to share ideas and swap stories. Look for their team to start having a few beers with us, and sharing some pretty interesting facts.

One of their team members was integral in finding the Higgs Boson! That's a talk I want to hear.


So I'm hoping everyone can take the opportunity to welcome the venerated Lonely Planet team to Nashville and show them all the courtesy and friendliness that defines our community.