British Guild of Travel Writers launches bookshop offensive

<p>The British Guild of Travel Writers is to offer in-store travel events to any bookseller that sells travel guides, as part of its strategy to reduce the effect of W H Smith Travel&#39;s exclusive deal with Penguin. The Guild has also written to the Office of Fair Trade arguing that the deal is &quot;anti-competitive&quot;.</p><p>The free &quot;holiday planning clinics&quot; will be offered across all bookshops both chains and independents. Guild chair Melissa Shales said that the Guild would provide 2-3 travel experts who would visit a bookshop and talk to customers and staff about a particular area. This could range from a specific destination to holiday health or how to take better travel pictures. The workshops would provide basic holiday advice, information on good places to go when traveling and the best guide to buy to suit your needs.</p><p>Shales added: &quot;We&#39;ll see if we can match [booksellers] up with some of our writers to come and offer the public advice on where and how to plan their holidays, which books will best suit their needs and give them great insider tips. We have experts in almost every destination from Montana to Moldova. After all, what we most want to do is sell as many guidebooks as possible &ndash; it&#39;s in everyone&#39;s best interests.&quot;</p><p>The Guild is also keeping up the pressure on WHS and Penguin, and has followed the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild (OWPG), in writing to the OFT. In the letter, Shales said: &quot;We believe that this is a restrictive vertical agreement, contrary to the Competition Act 1998, between two parties with significant market power in the travel guide market. It will have the effect of restricting competition and consumer choice, and of causing significant detriment to members of our association.&quot;</p><p>It added: &quot;We believe that this gives [WH Smith and Penguin] significant market power in the market for travel books. Because of this exclusivity deal, there are no longer any other bookshops at the seven BAA airports, and therefore no alternative outlets available to other publishers.&quot;</p><p>A copy of the letter has also been sent to Kate Swann, chief executive of W H Smith, Robert Walker, chairman of W H Smith, and John Duhigg, m.d. of Penguin Travel. It has also been copied to chief executives and chairmen at Network Rail and BAA. Shales has also sent the letter to MPs including Ben Bradshaw MP, secretary of state for culture, media and sport and Gordon Banks MP, chairman all party parliamentary group on publishing.</p><p>The British Guild of Travel Writers has previously asked for a boycott of both W H Smith and Penguin. Penguin has yet to comment on the deal; WHS has said that its market share of travel retail is just 5.6%, and said the arrangement would benefit &quot;time-pressed&quot; travellers.</p><p>Booksellers who want further information on the travel clinics, should contact the Guild&#39;s press and PR co-ordinator Sarah Monaghan at<br /><br /></p>