Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since a teenager in Germany, first as a travel agent and now as a publisher for one of the world’s most influential and most read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP).
Born on December 9, 1957, Thomas can be considered a wandering soul, but at the same time a hard-working personality that has become an icon of the travel and tourism news industry due to sheer commitment to his work.
His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislations. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.
What threats are being faced by serious and professional media houses in the flood of social media?
STEINMETZ: I am not sure if I understand your question. I can think of a number of challenges. Due to the large number of social media postings, professional media with guidelines to verify and balance information may have to work at a slower pace. Serious media should make clear they are different from social media. They need to get the constant message out to maintain their place as a more reliable news source.
Is a travel and tourism media house is easy to sustain, or is sustainability becoming a question?
STEINMETZ: Sustainability is becoming a challenge in any business. With the number of new media, social media, and the Internet,¬ advertising revenue is way down compared to just some years ago. ETN, like other media, is looking for “out of the box” revenue opportunities and is less relying on newsletter advertising.
Why did you opt for such a difficult path of travel and tourism news promotion, while people like to listen and read about politics, disasters, etc.? Aren’t guns easier to sell than roses?
STEINMETZ: We know this. Numbers and disaster news sells. We also look at great headlines and keywords to get more readers. We don’t really sell “roses” – our articles are critical and sometimes even explosive in nature. “Roses”
articles are mostly advertorial.
Tell us what colors you like and what food you love to eat.
STEINMETZ: I am in Hawaii, and we have a lot of Asian food. I love Thai, Indian/Pakistani, and Japanese food. 75% of what I eat is not my traditional German food. I love spicy food and freshly-cooked food. I am not big in buffets and pre-cooked food or fast food. I also love Italian food, but my doctor told me not to eat it too much.
Thomas, any message you wish to send to media and stakeholders of travel and tourism?
STEINMETZ: I have been in this business since 1978, and I love it. My business is also my hobby. I will never become a millionaire, but interacting with people around the globe and our industry is a lot of fun. It’s an important industry to maintain peace and understanding. Tourism can contribute to world understanding, to a more open world, and also to a more responsible world.
What are your targets in life? How satisfied are you with your work and general situation in the tourism industry?
STEINMETZ: I love my work. Doing it 24/7/365 is not a anything I regret. I made a lot of friends in the industry, and I love to meet people and enjoy my job. I could not imagine doing anything else. My target, of course, is to start saving money for my retirement. This business is not a business that pays a lot, so it can become a challenge sometimes.
If I offer you a one-month vacation, where would you wish to spend it – what destination and why?
STEINMETZ: I would love to stay home. I traveled 170 days last year. I live on one of the most beautiful islands on the globe. I wear shorts and tee-shirts and slippers all day, and look out on one of the most beautiful beaches you can find anywhere. When I travel, I enjoy big cities like Jakarta, Bangkok, Berlin, London, and Hong Kong -¬ they are my favorite cities. I would also enjoy mountain regions. A recent trip to Nepal was a treat.
Thank you so much, Thomas, for your time and interview. Thank you again.
[Interview first published by The Region Initiative]