Lonely Planet

Enhance your current platform capabilities along with your company's competitive position.


With a rapidly growing base of dedicated travellers, an extensive but fragmented resource library, combined with an increase in competition, Lonely Planet needed to significantly improve online user experience to continue to grow its customer base.

"Every once in a while if you're lucky, you get to work with partners this good. NetReturn Consulting were helpful, hard working, smart & did exactly what they said they were going to do each time. That kind of reliability is the coin of the realm in this business."

Nick Thorpe

Project Manager,
Digital Programme,
Lonely Planet


Lonely Planet is one of the world's most successful travel publishers, printing over 100 million books in nine different languages. Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world sharing destination profiles via guidebooks, eBooks, an award-winning website & magazine, digital newsletters, blogs & a range of mobile & digital travel products.

The Lonely Planet website www.lonelyplanet.com is also a sophisticated e-commerce platform, supporting the sale of broad range of online resources, including travel advice via the 'World Guide', an online shop, & travel advisory services. The web site, launched in 1994 & ranks alongside Wikipedia & the CIA Fact Book as standard internet resources. As a result, ads on the Lonely Planet website command high prices.

In October 2007, BBC Worldwide acquired a 75% share in Lonely Planet, pledging to uphold Lonely Planet's commitment to independent travel, trustworthy advice & editorial independence. In 2011, BBC Worldwide went on to become sole shareholder of the company.

Today, Lonely Planet has offices in Melbourne, London & Oakland, with over 450 employees & over 200 authors. In 2012, Lonely Planet also set up its first office in Gurgaon, India, publishing guidebooks for Indian travellers.

The Problem

With a rapidly growing base of dedicated traveller customers, an extensive but fragmented resource library, combined with an increase in competition from organisations such as TripAdvisor, Frommer's, Fodor's & Rough Guide, Lonely Planet needed to significantly improve online user experience to continue to grow its customer base.

Improved search, guided navigation, ease of access to the expansive Lonely Planet information library, relevant product placement plus supporting digital multi-channel retailing were considered to be key requirements in order for the company to meet its customer experience & revenue goals.

To stay ahead, Lonely Planet needed more sophisticated search technologies, including relevancy ranking & faceted search, as well as features aimed at greater user interaction & participation, including tagging & reviews. Further, Lonely Planet wanted a solution which once implemented, could be managed easily by in house IT.

The Solution

After a strategic review with NetReturn Consulting to ensure the businesses' current requirements & growth objectives were aligned with a three year technology roadmap, the decision was made to deploy an improved global search capability, the Endeca IAP solution, which delivered enhanced global search functionality.

With NetReturn Consulting's integration expertise, the implementation of Endeca enabled the synchronization of data between multiple systems, so travellers could find important content from a single search, gathered from multiple Lonely Planet libraries.

In addition, online merchandising features of the Endeca product were also deployed to improve conversion rates for products & an increase in multi-product purchases. This solution enabled the achievement of this goal with the display of relevant Lonely Planet products along with search results content on the search results page.

The overall result ensured an enhanced customer experience, superior to competitors' offerings, solidifying Lonely Planet's ranking in the global travel guide market.

Business Benefits

With NetReturn Consulting's project management expertise, the solution was implemented on time & to budget.

Customer click-through rates to the Lonely Planet online shop from search increased by 3% & conversion rates (i.e. searchers who become buyers) increased significantly from 0.25% to 2%, well above industry average.

In addition, the enhanced site attracted 5% more users where researching travellers also spent longer on Lonely Planet website pages. These improvements were directly attributable to the enhanced search capability.

Further, this increase in site page impressions delivered an increase in related advertising revenue to the business.