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How To Pitch: James Shillinglaw, Insider Travel Report Founder

James Shillinglaw, Founder of Insider Travel Report

As a seasoned travel industry professional, James Shillinglaw is a master of both editorial and marketing in the travel space. Following a long, influential career covering the travel-trade industry, Shillinglaw set out to found his own publication, Insider Travel Report. Though entering a well-saturated market, Shillinglaw was confident that his publication could bring exceptional coverage to travel professionals by curating content based on their interests. In June, Insider Travel Report launched in partnership with to reach a subscriber base of 75,000+ active travel professionals. Insider Travel Report relies on Shillinglaw’s years of expertise to bring travel advisers industry news, product profiles and destination reports. Here, Shillinglaw shares more about his new venture, and how Insider Travel Report can be a resource for professionals looking to tap into the pulse of today’s travel market.

Q: Let’s start with you sharing a little about your professional background.

I’ve been working in travel for the past 26 years. I was at Travel Agent Magazine for 13 years and became the editor-in-chief. After I left Travel Agent Magazine, I went to a company called Travel Alliance Media, and while there, I created all of the editorial products that they have today, those being, Agent @ Home Magazine and Vacation Agent Magazine. I left there because I wanted to do my own thing after doing it for others for many years, and eventually decided that I would get back into the trade space. That was the genesis of Insider Travel Report.

Q: What makes Insider Travel Report unique?

Right now we are in a crowded space, but what we deliver is somewhat different from what our competitors deliver. We focus on delivering news every day, and also try to do more profiles. We do video interviews and we will soon be doing product and destination report videos. Nobody else in this space does much of that, if any.

The other thing to know about the website is that out of our 70,000 agent database, we go out to a very targeted set of agents. We deliver news based on the data points in their profile. Meaning if they are a cruise-focused agent, they will get cruise news first. If they are a specific destination specialist, they will get news about that destination. Every agent’s newsletter and view of the website is unique because it’s based on the data that they filled out in terms of their business. To my knowledge, nobody has that.

Q: Are there any elements that would influence your decision to publish stories that would be interesting for your audience?

We’re interested if its useful information for a travel agent that can help them sell more travel and build their knowledge of both destinations and products. The true test is, how can this information benefit a travel agent in selling a particular destination? Insider Travel Report is very product and destination-oriented. I do have competitors in the market that are going in other directions, but I still feel that any good news and information about destination and product can be extremely useful to travel agents who have limited time to understand all the products with which they’re faced.

Q: Can you predict early on, which stories will generate the most interest?

I’m always constantly surprised by what stories seem to be clicked on that I thought were not going to be as well read, and then, conversely, some of the stories that I didn’t think were going to be read, are read. It’s somewhat of a learning process. Obviously, we try to cover everything, and there are going to be stories that aren’t well-read, but are well-read by very targeted group of travel agents. I’m not as concerned with the number of clicks on the story as I am about who clicks on the story. If it’s only a limited number of people who have clicked, and it causes an agent to sell product or a destination, that’s fine. If I have a lot of people who clicked just because they’re interested in something that is said in the story, that’s fine too. It really depends on how the travel agent takes action with the information they are presented, and that’s a difficult thing to measure.

Q: How has Insider Travel Report been received by its audience? Have you gotten any feedback from travel agents?

Yes. So far, it’s been very good feedback. I think they’re excited about the fact that we are now delivering a very targeted publication online in our newsletters. They’re also excited that we are doing a lot of video content, which I still believe is the direction the online business is going.  and I have for many, many years, is the way that the online business is going. We intend to build even more video content as we go forward because it’s a great way for readers and viewers to get the information they need. We may be also doing some more podcast content as we go forward.

Q: Thank you for an insightful look into Insider Travel Report. Are there any comments that you’d like to share?

I have the benefit, for better or worse, of having been the founding editor for two of the four existing travel trade websites in the market today, namely Travel Pulse and Travel Agent Central.

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