Special Report: Bon Voyage

In a cluttered landscape, travel shows need to be so much more than guidebooks to stand out.

We all want to be taken places and see locations we could only dream of visiting. Thanks to travel series, we can do that from the comfort and safety of the living room. But these days, viewers don’t just want to be shown the sites; they want an immersive experience with an engaging host who takes them along on a journey of discovery.

Mike Lolato, the senior VP of international distribution at GRB Entertainment, believes there is demand for hybrid shows because the combination of travel with other elements has the potential to bring in a younger audience as compared to typical travel series. “Networks need to satisfy as many viewers as possible,” he says. “What better way to do that than by doing a travel-adventure program instead of doing just a pure travel show or just an adventure show? You’re going to bring in different people, you’re going to attract more viewers, and that’s the name of the game.”

One of GRB’s titles that has succeeded in luring elusive millennials is Chug, in which host Zane Lamprey explores drinking cultures around the world. “Historically, travel shows have been a little bit conservative and slower paced,” Lolato says. “Then there was an explosion of new hosts [who are] different, edgier people. Chug brings in a younger audience because 87-year-olds probably aren’t too interested in the great beers or a new vodka company from Malaysia, but young travelers who want to have a good time are going to gravitate toward these newer travel shows.”

GRB’s Lolato believes that an engaging, authentic host has a voice and is not someone who simply wants to do a travel show. It’s important that the presenter has a genuine interest he or she would like to explore. In Hayden Quinn South Africa, the titular host and former MasterChef Australia contestant doesn’t have years of experience under his belt, but he’s making a name for himself and gaining a following because he feels authentic and has a passion for exploring the country’s food and culture.


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