• 3 January, 2017
  • Kate Simon

Blank page: Never mind 2017, now's the time to be formulating plans for 2018. Photo: Dariusz Sankowski

It’s that time of year again, when everyone’s telling us where we will be travelling to in 2017. But how do editors make their predictions?

This weekend, the Telegraph threw open the doors of the new hotels that we can look forward to checking into in the coming year. The Times explained the draw of Denmark, not just for Aarhus, European Capital of Culture in 2017, but also the hygge phenomenon.

The FT ventured that Finland is a place worthy of active reappraisal as well as admiration for its welfare system. The Independent told us how our destination choices could soon be influenced by a new app. And the Sunday Times went as far as providing a calendar of suggestions, month-by-month inspiration based on the kinds of things we like to do at different moments in the year.

During my time as Travel Editor of the Independent on Sunday, one of my annual jobs was to find a fresh and engaging approach to the first editions of the new year. While it always called to mind Twain’s saying, “There is no such thing as a new idea”, it was a fun, creative task.

But when it came to the fine detail, the fact that humans have tramped across much of the globe (about which, take a look at this interesting article on mapping the world) means that little is truly new. For travel editors, a different set of criteria is employed, including new product, the latest technology, emerging destinations, world news, tourism initiatives, lifestyle themes, and seasonal and behavioural trends.

In my occasional travel-writing workshops, I point aspiring writers to the travel sections from the turn of the year as a rich seam to mine, not only for ideas to cover in the coming 12 months, but the kind of stories that editors like. These editions are a similarly useful tool to the tourism industry and PRs in the quest to raise profiles and earn backlinks to improve search positions.

Nimble travel companies and organisations are always looking at ways to enhance their customer offering, from new infrastructure to new initiatives. The best of these can also warrant a mention in the new year travel issues.

But having interesting news to share isn’t the only consideration. Preparing early for the following year is key not only to implementing what’s new, but for creating a sound PR proposition that will earn coverage, too.

So what was a late-autumn job as a travel editor has become a summer task for me and my colleagues at our specialist travel PR agency. That’s the very latest we can start a campaign to push out our clients’ news for the following year to long- and short-lead publications.

And when you consider that PR takes place at the end of the operational and marketing process, you begin to understand how far ahead preparations must begin. In short, there’s no time to lose in making plans for 2018.