“Lonely Planet is the biggest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011. Initially called Lonely Planet Publications, the company changed its name to Lonely Planet in July 2009 to reflect its broad travel industry offering and the emphasis on digital products. After Let’s Go Travel Guides, it was one of the first series of travel books aimed at backpackers and other low-cost travellers.
As of 2010, it publishes about 500 titles in 8 languages, as well as TV programs, a magazine, mobile phone applications and websites.” [Wheeler]
Lonely Planet also having own television Production Company, which has produced numerous series like Lonely Planet Six Degrees, The Sport Traveller, Going Bush, Vintage New Zealand, Bluelist Australia and Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled. Lonely Planet placed its headquartered in Footscray, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, with associate offices in London and Oakland, California.
As of 2009, it was increasing its digital, online presence greatly.
In 2009 Lonely Planet start publishing a monthly travel magazine called Lonely Planet Magazine in the UK, and in 2010 it launched the Indian and the Argentine editions.
The company name comes from a misheard line in “Space Captain”, a song written by Matthew Moore and first popularized by Joe Cocker and Leon Russell on the “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” tour in 1970. The actual words are “lovely planet”, but Tony Wheeler heard “lonely planet” and liked it.
In what ways is Lonely Planet decentralized and / or centralized?
Decentralized: Every one of Lonely Planet office is responsible for all sales and marketing efforts for its own region to address culture and other environment differences. The organization provides the individual offices more flexibility in directing marketing messages to detailed audiences and make sure that employees in each office know their region systematically.
Centralized: Although regional offices may charge books for their area, the headquarters in Australia produces all of the books. This centralization streamlines the production process, reduces costs by keeping cartographers and designers under one place.
“An organization’s structure and its degree of centralization or decentralization depend on factors, including the size of the organization and its geographic dispersion. In a very huge and diversified organization, it is unlikely that a handful of people will have all the resources to achieve all goals and objectives of the enterprise. As a result, it becomes impractical to focus power and decision-making authority at the top.” [Demand Media] Similarly in a geographically-dispersed organization, a centralized approach will not be the most efficient, as the people with the most authority will be unable to directly supervise operations on a day-to-day basis.
“Centralized organizational structures rely on one individual to make decisions and provide direction for the company. Small businesses often use this structure since the owner is responsible for the company’s business operations. Organizations with a centralized structure have several layers of management that control the company by maintaining a high level of power, which is the power to make decisions about business activities. With a centralized structure, line-and-staff employees have limited authority to carry something out without prior approval. This organizational structure tends to focus on top-down management, whereby executives at the top communicate by telling middle managers, who then tell first-level managers, who then tell the staff what to do and how to do it. Since this organizational structure tends to be quite bureaucratic, employees have little freedom. Centralized organizations are known for decreased extent of control limited number of employees report to a manager, who then reports to the next management level.” [Osmond Vitez]
“Decentralized organizational structures frequently have several individuals responsible for making business decisions and operating the business. Decentralized organizations rely on a team environment at different levels in the business. Individuals at each level in the business may have some autonomy to make business decisions. Because individual creativity can be stifled and management costs can be greater in a centralized organization, many organizations continue to downsize into a more decentralized structure. Decentralization seeks to remove the unnecessary levels of management and to place authority in the hands of first-line managers and staff so, increasing the extent of control, with more employees reporting to one manager. Because more employees are reporting to a single manager than before, the managers are forced to delegate more work and to hold the employees more responsible. Downsizing has also helped to change the flow of communication, so that top management hears staff concerns and complaints in a more direct manner and management has a more hands-on approach. The hands-on approach involves less bureaucracy, which means there is a faster response to situations that demand direct attention. This structure also takes advantage of bottom-up communication, with staff issues being addressed in a timely manner.” [Osmond Vitez]
The reorganization generally takes place at the mid-management level. Because some middle managers have lost their jobs, been laid off, or simply taken advantage of early retirement and severance packages, their positions have been phased out, thus helping to reduce unnecessary costly salaries and increasing employee span of control. Many middle managers who stayed in their current “positions” found that their jobs have changed to being coaches, or team leaders, who allow their employees greater freedom in completing their work responsibilities [Csoka, 1995].
The chain of command is the protocol used for communication within organizations. It provides a clear picture of who reports to whom. Faster decisions can be made in decentralized organizations because approval usually has to come only from the manager one level higher than the person making the decision. The chain of command involves line-and-staff employees, where the staff’s job is completing the actual work and the line functions to oversee the staff.
Advantages of Centralization:
“The advantages of centralization are an organization’s ability to closely control operations, provide a uniform set of policies, practices and procedures throughout the organization, and better use the knowledge of centralized experts. In a small organization, operations are likely to be not as diversified and top management may practically possess the skills and skills required to manage all facets of business.” [Demand Media] In such a centralized environment, actions of individuals are also better aligned with management’s prescribed policies, as the rules emanate from a single source, and there is little ambiguity.
Advantages of Decentralization:
“Decentralization is a common feature of forward-thinking organizations. A decentralized organizational structure allows faster decision-making and better adaptability to local conditions and context. In a large organization, a high degree of centralization would lead to inefficiency as all actions would have to be approved and cleared by top management. Decentralization also enables an organization to better adapt to conditions by delegating authority to those who are physically present and active in a particular project or operation. Another important advantage is management grooming. In a decentralized organization, managers at lower levels gain relevant experience, which improves quality of human resources.” [Demand Media]
Disadvantages of Centralization and Decentralization:
Centralized organizations can undergo from the negative effects of several layers of bureaucracy. These businesses often have several management layers stretching from the owner down to frontline operations. Business owners responsible for making every decision in the company may require more time to complete these tasks, which can result in slow business operations. Decentralized organizations can struggle with multiple individuals having different opinions on a particular business decision. So, these businesses can face difficulties trying to get everyone on the same page when making decisions.
Discuss the issues or problems the Wheelers faced as their business grew and comment on the courses of actions taken.
Toney and Maureen Wheeler really needed finance for their next trip. They arrived in Australia with 27 cents and a camera (which they soon pawned) between them. So they decided to write and published the first Lonely Planet guidebook, Across Asia on the Cheap. It was an instant best seller among world wanderers. The first print run was 1500 copies, hand collated, hand trimmed and hand stapled. Tony and Maureen took the book around to bookshops in Sydney and it sold out in the first week.
Decision-making in business:
Decision-making is a vital part of good business. The question then is ‘how is a good decision made of Toney and Maureen Wheeler for their next trip?
One part of the answer is good information, and experience in interpreting information. Consultation, for example, looking for the views and expertise of other people also helps, as does the ability to admit one was wrong and change one’s mind. There are also aids to decision-making, various techniques which help to make information clearer and better analysed, and to add numerical and objective precision to decision-making (where appropriate) to reduce the amount of subjectivity.
Toney Wheeler can be trained to make better decisions. He also needs a supportive environment where they won’t be unfairly criticised for making wrong decisions and will receive proper support from Maureen Wheeler. A climate of criticism and fear stifles risk-taking and creativity; Toney Wheeler will respond by ‘playing it safe’ to minimise the risk of criticism which diminishes the business’ effectiveness in responding to market changes. It may also mean Toney Wheeler spend too much time trying to pass the blame around rather than getting on with running the business.
Decision-making increasingly happens at all levels of a business of Lonely Planet. The Board of Directors may make the grand strategic decisions about investment and direction of future growth, and Wheeler may make the more strategic decisions about how their own department may contribute most effectively to the overall business objectives. But quite ordinary employees of Lonely Planet are increasingly expected to make decisions about the conduct of their own tasks, responses to customers and improvements to business practice. This needs careful recruitment and selection, good training, and enlightened management.
Cite this essay
Lonely Planet – Travel Guide Book. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/lonely-planet-travel-guide-book-essay