An interview with Graham Yandell, the managing director of Yandell Media Group, who launched Group Leisure & Travel magazine 25 years ago and created its portfolio.

Graham Yandell

Graham launched Group Leisure & Travel magazine 25 years ago.

What made you decide to launch Group Leisure & Travel magazine, back in 1995?

We acquired a publication in 1987 called Coaching Journal & Bus Review, together with the annual Who’s Who in the Bus Industry, to take advantage of deregulation in the market. I noticed that a high percentage of advertising that was booked came in from the travel and leisure sector. Furthermore, it was clear that those advertising were mainly soliciting group business.

After some research it seemed clear to me that there was a vibrant and important market in group travel and that there was very limited media serving the sector anything like adequately. We felt we could do better. Initially we launched our annual Who’s Who in Group Leisure directory in 1993 and then after a very positive response launched Group Leisure magazine as a bi-monthly publication in 1995. The frequency quickly increased to monthly due to overwhelming demand. That was the start of the story – the rest, as they say, is history!

Why do you think the magazine and its portfolio has enjoyed such consistent success over the last 25 years?

It’s very simple really, and what applied when we launched in 1995 still applies now. Any magazine, in fact any media, has to provide great content with quality presentation. You must consistently strive to become the required reading of the market and invest in quality materials, quality design and always bring innovation and fresh thinking to what you do. Complacency is the thing you must guard against most of all and never, and I mean never, take your readership for granted.

How does Group Leisure & Travel fit in with all the changes we have seen in communication?

We welcome change and I would say in the group travel sector we have been the main catalyst for it. For many years we have been the biggest provider of group travel media in the UK but this only happens if you earn it, remain focused, relevant and innovative. Over the years we have seen many publications come and go. Frankly, it’s not a market for the ‘quick buck’ people and to gain people’s trust and respect you have to make a long-term commitment to them and become part of the fabric of the sector.

We now have a whole range of platforms to meet the needs of our readers, visitors and advertisers, plus our commercial partners. Group Leisure & Travel is at the centre of our portfolio, but we also have a fantastic annual exhibition, a brilliant and prestigious Awards initiative and various annuals. We launched the Group Travel Organiser of the Year Award® many years ago and that has been a marvellous thing to be part of, by recognising the unsung heroes that do so much for people.

We try to set a blistering pace and always strive to do better no matter what we achieve. Only last year we invested very substantially in new dynamic websites which have been real game changers in the sector. We believe nothing comes close to the range, choice and value we offer.

If you could highlight one thing that has been the secret of the magazine’s success what would that be?

Well, that is a difficult one, as there are so many factors that come into play. If pushed I would say it is our people here at Yandell Media. They are the backbone of the business. We are lucky to have talented, enthusiastic, genuine, creative, and knowledgeable people working here, many of them doing so for decades. I believe they always put the customer, the reader, or our exhibition visitors first. The team consistently want to produce great media or offer the best type of experience for them.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us and believed in us. In my experience, if you stay tuned to your market and what it wants or needs you will not go far wrong. And as I said at the start of the journey 25 years ago, this is the beginning of the story - not the end of it. The same principle applies now as it did then.

Here’s to the next 25!