The Lonely Planet franchise is an ubiquitous part of western travel fascination. In every travel book section of every bookshop in the UK, Lonely Planet have documented the farthest corners of the globe and condensed them into easily accessible and inspirational books.
The young mastermind behind this amazing brand is Daniel Houghton who came to be a prodigious CEO at the age of 24 through peculiar circumstances. After graduating in 2010, he set up a small marketing agency which was spotted by an American tobacco magnate, Brad Kelley.
In the same year, Kelley bought Lonely Planet from the BBC for a modest $77 million. And guess what? He made Daniel the CEO.
Speaking to Amuse, Houghton discussed the trials of being such a young executive, what his day-to-day life is like, Lonely Planet’s newest app and his most life-changing trips.
1. Houghton on being a young CEO
“My friends joke that my life is a bit like Benjamin Button – that I’m sort of living life in reverse. The company didn’t come with a guidebook.”
“We’ve never looked at Lonely Planet just as a book company, or a guide book publisher—in fact my first interaction with Lonely Planet actually was on our website, probably when I was in college—we’ve always looked at it as a content company”
2. Houghton on his day-to-day life
“My base is sort of wherever the airplane takes me – business is really spread out all around the world. It’s almost location agnostic, if that makes any sense. When I’m making trips to other offices and I’m on the road, they’re normally pretty tight turns because I’m there for a specific reason. It is possible to master jet lag.”
3. Houghton on their new city guide app, Guides
“Let’s just say you show up in Amsterdam, you’re on the ground, you can download the app—it’s free—and it starts by saving all the information on your maps offline. Because a lot of people are still travelling on Airplane mode, or they don’t have very much data to use.”
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4. Houghton on his most life-changing trips
“I’ve had some of my most interesting times, sort of getting lost wandering around Delhi. The first time I’d been to India… was a complete sensory overload—not to mention that I’m 6’4” and 150 pounds, so I don’t exactly blend in—the smells, things to look at and everything that you can imagine. I had the same experience in Shanghai the first time I went there.”
“I guess the counter of that is, a couple of weeks ago I was skiing in Jackson Hole. I was lost in the trees, and it’s nice to just sit down for a minute when there’s no one around you, and you can’t see any living thing – you’re just in this massive forest and you go ‘Wow, this is travel too… this is different.’ So I sort of love all factors of it.”