RONALD L. KRANNICH, Ph.D., is one of today’s leading travel, career, and life skills writers who has authored more than 100 books. He is the founder and president of both CRUZUS and Impact Publications. Ron received his Ph.D. in Political Science, Public Administration, and Southeast Asian Studies. A former Peace Corps Volunteer, Fulbright Scholar, university professor, and management trainer, Ron is also the principal author of the ground-breaking international travel-shopping series. The Impact Guides. When not found in his offices in Georgia and Virginia, he’s probably sailing somewhere around the world gathering data and writing stories for his cruise website and blogs, CRUZUS, and pursuing other international and travel interests. He can be contacted at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the publisher.
1. What got you into travel writing?
A serendipitous experience started it all. While living and working in Bangkok in the 1980s, a friend of a friend contacted me about extending her popular “Shopping Trips to Exotic Places” (STEP) from Hong Kong and Seoul to Bangkok. After they navigated the chaotic streets of Bangkok and determined it was too challenging to organize a new ground tour there, I instead proposed writing a self-directed book on the subject. Well, be careful what you wish for . . . I ended up doing the research and writing which resulted in the first regional volume entitled Shopping in Exotic Places: Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. That book became the catalyst for producing 23 additional shopping guidebooks on individual countries and regions, including China, India, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, France, Mexico, Brazil, Dubai, Oman, Yemen, Bermuda, South Pacific, and the Caribbean. After retiring the series, I switched to my second travel passion – great water destinations and cruising – with the recent launch of CRUZUS, a travel site designed for seniors (55+) in search of exciting bucket list cruise experiences.
2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
Like most creative activities, many of the challenges center around the 3M’s of travel writing – marketing, monetizing, and money. I’ve been free to pursue my own unique travel interests because I own a more lucrative end of a publishing business that subsidizes my travel work. I’m especially interested in travel writing that changes lives, which I experienced in my earlier travel-shopping work with some very dedicated and passionate travelers. My bias is toward high-end (4- to 5-star) rather than budget (1- to 3-star) travel. My audience wants life on the road to be better than staying back home. They are looking for unique and memorable experiences that are also good value.
3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
That’s easy – iPhone synced to iWatch. Together they do everything conceivable and then some. I need more dedicated technology days to learn their full capabilities, plus apps, for travel writing and photography. When cruising, a dedicated walkie-talkie comes in very handy for staying in contact with one’s travel companion, although the new iWatch has a walkie-talkie function that looks promising – need to test its functionality in new travel spaces.
4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
(1) Being caught up in student riots and fired upon by U.S. helicopter gunships in Bangkok during the 1970s – a sign that it was wise to spend more time “up country” with friendlier locals. (2) Volcanic eruption and a devastating earthquake in the 1990s leveled my research sites and eliminated two attempts to complete a travel-shopping guidebook on The Philippines. I gave up after such bad luck! (3) Bombing of the fabulous Aleppo market in Syria, which contributed to the demise of that book, too!
5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
Word of mouth. I joined because it’s important to be part of a professional association of fellow travel writers and media specialists who focus on what’s important to the profession and who offer support for the craft.
6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Be different, interesting, and exciting – offer something unique that other travel writers overlook or undervalue. Avoid the extreme ends of travel – budget and luxury. The most rewarding travel is often found a little north of center and with small groups of adventuresome and experienced travelers. And don’t forget the 3M’s of travel writing (see Question #2). Regardless of how good you think you are, that’s what makes it happen and creates longevity in this business.