Lonely Planet’s Digital Director Brough Leaving

Lonely Planet’s Melbourne-based digital director Kelly Brough is leaving after about 18 months in the role. Her exit was announced to staff Tuesday, but there’s no word of a replacement yet.

Brough was CEO of online dating network Allegran when hired by the travel brand in June 2009.

Lonely Planet’s online innovation ecosystem manager Matt Cashmore, after returning home to Britain from working with the company in Melbourne, recently left to be book publisher Hachette’s digital director.

Lonely Planet, owned by BBC Worldwide, considers digital a big opportunity area. Aside from its core lonelyplanet.com website, it publishes dozens of its city guides in mobile app form, Android versions of which include augmented reality.

When it made some of the apps free and halved the price of others during this year’s Icelandic volcano eruption, it found a 500 percent sales uplift – three million free app downloads in 24 hours and a knock-on boost to the paid apps.

The publisher is being tapped by BBCWW to build a travel site on international-facing BBC.com. Lonely Planet 2009/10 profit was up by £5.1 ($8.11) million to £1.9 ($3.02) million, on 19.5 percent higher sales of £51.4 ($81.81) million.

The BBC has been forbidden by its BBC Trust from making further acquisitions like Lonely Planet, though a disposal of Lonely Planet does not look on the cards.