We chat to Uwern Jong, editor-in-chief of OutThere — the 2018 winner of Publication of the Year: Online
What makes a destination a great place to write about?
At OutThere, we’re all about experiential destinations — places that inspire great storytelling. I subscribe to the school of long-form, anecdotal, first-person travel writing. I want to take our readers on a journey each time they read an OutThere story, so you’ll never see a listicle or itinerarised travel feature in the magazine. When our experientialists head out on trips, we look and go deeper, in search of great human stories, interesting OutTherepeople who are doing awe-inspiring things, best-kept-secrets, history and inside tracks, not forgetting visually stunning places to photograph and capture on video.
What does winning a TMA mean to OutThere?
Winning a TMA for ‘Publication of the Year: Online’ was amazing. We were honoured enough to be shortlisted alongside such great and established industry names — and by our peers, what’s more — but to go on to win has truly inspired and fired up our team to do even better for the future. It’s also spotlighted us in the industry and raised our profile. Moreover, for a niche publication, particularly one targeted at the LGBT community, to be recognised in the mainstream has shown just how far we’ve come as a community and industry. It’s demonstrated that the economic and social power of our readership base is something that the travel industry values. We’re very proud — it was definitely the highlight of 2018 and an early 10th birthday gift for us.
Is there somewhere on your personal travel hit list for 2019?
2019 has already been quite a year of checking off bucket lists for me. In just four months, I’ve been at the opening of the magical Cap Juluca in Anguilla, experienced Belmond’s take on Carnaval in Rio, seen the wonder of the world that is Petra, fell in love with Amman, discovered how Majorca is slowly revealing its masterplan to woo more luxury travellers and create a change in perception; and got under the skin of Istanbul. As I write this, I’m in NYC kicking off the celebrations for their ‘Monumental Year’ in celebration of 50 years since the Stonewall Riots — a milestone for our community. And I have eight months left of the year to travel — I’m excited to see what it holds.
Where do you keep your TMA?
Our award is displayed proudly among others we’ve won in our offices in east London. I still smile every time I see it.
What other award have you dreamt of winning?
I’m not the sort of person that dreams of winning accolades. I believe in hard work, and if recognition from others come from it, that’s a bonus. That said, I’m all good with an email from one of our readers who’s been inspired by something they’ve read in OutThere,or a pat on the back from a PR colleague or client who loves what we do.
What do you never travel without?
There are so many things. I’m a bit OCD when it come to my travel accessories. I’m rarely seen without my polarised Ray-Ban sunglasses — they do so many jobs, from protecting my eyes to adding an element of style and mystery to my look, not to mention hiding a big night out on the town the morning after. Other necessary companions are my camera (and all the paraphernalia that comes with it), great luggage and lots of versatile costume changes (admittedly, mainly all black) for any eventuality, from suddenly being summoned to meet a world leader or to interview someone famous, to being taken to a chic ball or a pool party.