Name: Robert La Bua
Position title: Travel writer, television guest
When and why did you join the industry?
I have written and travelled my whole life, so it was inevitable that the two together would become my career. In 2004, I started writing for small community newspapers in Australia and one by one added larger magazines and newspapers across the Asia-Pacific region until I had an extensive portfolio of publications where I was a regular contributor with my own travel sections. My very first writing job was my own weekly column, so I have always had an association with one publication or another; it was only several years into my career when meeting freelance writers struggling to find outlets for their work did I realise what a privilege it was to control the direction of one’s own career.
What do you like most about your job?
Living extraordinary moments on a regular basis and not having to go to an office to work.
What’s one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
That I have managed to have a career as a travel writer at all is itself the biggest achievement.
What’s the best advice ever given to you and who gave it?
Jodie Foster: “Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.”
Who do you admire and see as a role model in the industry?
Mr Robin Peel is Head Of Royal and VIP Relations at Bentley Motors, a company indirectly involved in the travel industry because people do travel often by car. Mr Peel’s polished professionalism goes far beyond the call of duty, as does his commitment to excellence in representing his employer as the point of contact for some of the wealthiest and most important people in the world. I have asked him to do the world a favour and write a book on corporate communication etiquette so that the banal lines recited by certain PR people can be discarded in favour of communicating in a more meaningful manner.
What can people expect from your company and what sets it apart from the rest?
Critical though I may be about every other aspect of my life, I give myself credit for being a good writer who has the ability to bring a destination to life through words. Therefore, it can be expected that the hotel, airline, tourism office, or other entity selected for presentation will receive high-quality media coverage as a return on investment. I approach work as a business transaction rather than a travel fantasy to be realised; my task is to bring exciting, informative articles to the readers while delivering the messages of companies featured, and my pleasure is using words as tools to effect this goal.
What destinations are on your travel bucket list?
I have been to more than 100 countries but there are still so many I have never visited even once. Iran, Qatar, Cape Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Mozambique, Mauritius, Guatemala come to mind, plus Corsica, the Canary Islands and the island of Madeira.
What’s a memorable travel experience you’ve had (good or bad)?
Among hundreds of exceptional experiences, I would say a private helicopter ride over the Swiss Alps stands out not only because of the beauty of the location and excitement of seeing it from above, but also because the person who arranged this experience was so genuinely committed to making it happen for me.
What are three things you always take with you when travelling?
Optimism, enthusiasm, and a bar of chocolate
Name someone famous you’d like to travel with and a destination you’d like to go with them.
Famous people need a lot of attention and for most of them travel is a necessity, not a pleasure. I would find it much more fulfilling to travel with an underprivileged family and give them the time of their lives having fun in a beautiful place with delicious food in luxurious surroundings.
What direction do you see the industry heading in over the next five to ten years?
Outbound markets in developing countries will continue to grow at an astonishing pace while traditional markets will continue to splinter into specialised interests and exploration of less famous destinations. These trends are simply reflections of the direction of their respective societies in general. As in every other aspect of business and life, those who cling to the past will be left behind; those who embrace the future will thrive.