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Which? opts to drop pub and hotel guides

23 April 2005 by

The Which? Pub Guide and Which? Guide to Good Hotels may no longer be hitting the bookstands following a decision to revise the titles.

Which?, part of the Consumer Association, has been reviewing the frequency of the two guides for some time and is now keen to focus on other areas central to its organisation, such as personal finance and law.

Helen Parker, editorial director at Which?, told Caterer: "The guidebooks will not be published next year and will no longer be annual. There is a chance they could be published in coming years but this is by no means definite.

"We want to concentrate on key areas of the company from now on."

Parker said that the decision was not down to a loss in sales or a response to the increasing amount of online sites offering similar information for free.

"There is clearly a trend for people to refer to the internet for information now, rather than books, but this has not affected our guides," she said. "The sales of our guides have been upheld, especially our Which? Good Food Guide, which continues to do exceptionally well."

The market, though, has become increasingly competitive, with Michelin's first Eating Out in Pubs guidebook reaching bookshelves last September, and a second edition on its way for September this year. Editor Derek Bulmer said that the guide had done exceptionally well and was expanding.

"There is certainly lots of competition in this area, and I am surprised to hear Which? is no longer publishing the pubs and hotel guides," he said. "Our situation is different to theirs, as our pub guide was a spin-off of the Red Guide, so just involved repackaging. As for the internet, we find that the guidebooks and online sites complement one another well."

Gaby Huddart, editor of consumer magazine Square Meal, agreed that the guidebook market was incredibly competitive, particularly with the addition of online guides that offered a quick and cheap service.

She told Caterer: "There are a lot more guidebooks than there used to be, and this is due to a growing appetite for eating-out. It's a competitive sector.

"Additionally, people can access hotel information online very easily. At the click of a mouse, you can get the star rating of a hotel, so there is no need to refer to guidebooks."

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 21 April 2005

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