Richard Frost is the Manchester-based editor-in-chief for the German-based TOPHOTELPROJECTS, the company behind hospitality news website TOPHOTELNEWS. Responsible for overseeing and improving the company’s editorial offering, Richard originally began his journalism career at Adfero as a correspondent and now has 15 years of experience in hospitality media. Richard is also an avid blogger on his personal website and a freelance writer, editor and media consultant, specialising in business, lifestyle and sport for various clients.
Richard tell us about the challenges of taking on a new role in the travel and hospitality media industry during the COVID-19 crisis, remote working and why journalism is still a great career in 2020.
What has been your favourite part of your new editor-in-chief role so far?
I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the hospitality sector, building on the work I did previously at Sleeper Media and Insider Media. It’s a fascinating industry filled with amazingly talented people and I love reading about what everyone’s up to – and then being able to share those stories with our readers.
Tell us a bit about starting a role in travel/hospitality media during the COVID-19 pandemic – what are the main challenges?
It’s a strange time for anyone starting a new role to be honest, but especially one that involves providing editorial coverage of the hospitality sector.
So many countries have gone into lockdown that it’s been tricky finding suitable news – although thankfully things are improving as restrictions ease in some markets. Then of course there are the challenges involved in reporting such a fast-moving situation as COVID-19, since hotels are opening, closing and reopening so rapidly that it can be difficult to stay on top of everything, but we’ve done a pretty good job so far I think.
What do you think will be the longest-lasting impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the hospitality and travel industry?
It’s no secret that hospitality and travel have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Although in some parts of the world we’re starting to see hotels, restaurants and bars reopen – and travel restrictions lift – this is certainly not the case everywhere. But even if we do eventually find a vaccine, or learn to live with the virus, we’re not simply going to go back to business as usual.
Many hospitality and travel companies are making sweeping cuts, shedding jobs and slashing budgets, which will have long-lasting consequences far beyond the short-term damage seen in the first half of 2020. That being said, there are still lots of incredibly creative and dedicated individuals out there, and we’re already seeing inspiring examples of hospitality and travel companies successfully adapting to the realities of a post-COVID world, so on balance I’m optimistic for the future. Ultimately, there’ll always be demand for great hospitality and memorable travel experiences.
You work remotely in Manchester and manage a team of writers and freelancers worldwide, what have you found to be the benefits of this?
Like so many people in 2020, I’ve had to adapt fast to remote working, as I’ve always been based out of offices in the past.
The main benefit I’ve noticed so far is that it really allows me to focus on the task in hand – whether researching a hotel group with a particularly labyrinthine corporate structure, communicating with the rest of the editorial team, copy-editing content that doesn’t quite read right or diving into Google Analytics – without getting distracted. That and the lack of a daily commute, obviously, which frees up a couple of extra hours a day!
And challenges of remote working?
The big challenge is that I don’t have anywhere near as much contact with my colleagues as in an office.
Now if I need to ask someone a quick question, I’ve got to type out an email, send over an instant message or schedule in a video call on Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp, whereas in previous roles I’d just walk over to their desk and get an answer on the spot. But as long as I remember to factor that delay into my day, and keep things in perspective, it’s no big problem.
Do you work with freelancers and if so, what kind of pitches would you be interested in?
Yes, I do work with freelancers on TOPHOTELNEWS – they write a lot of our content and are valued members of the team!
However, it’s not generally a case of them pitching ideas to me. In terms of industry news, I usually source relevant industry stories and commission members of our freelance pool to write them up. But a lot of our news output is devoted to original content, with our external writers drawing on data from the TOPHOTELPROJECTS construction database to create exclusive stories that readers can’t find anywhere else.
And finally, what do you love most about working in the media industry – would you recommend it as a career?
I’m really passionate about working in the media, so yes I’d definitely recommend it to others!
I’ve been fortunate enough to try my hand at all sorts of things down the years from journalism, copywriting and proofreading to copy editing, PR and social media marketing, but the one constant throughout has been writing – that’s what I love most. Specifically, I get a real buzz out of researching subjects or interviewing people and then writing up my notes in a way that hopefully helps inform and entertain readers.