Experiential travel magazine to launch

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Afar, a magazine dedicated to experiential travel, will launch in September.

High-income, educated travelers with a median age of 45 will be the primary target for Afar. Readers will have to be interested in experiential travel — immersive cultural experiences based on connection and understanding. Afar will debut with an initial rate base of 50,000, with plans to bump the number to 100,000 in 2010 and, eventually 300,000.

“The experiential travel trend has been growing for several years,” said Greg Sullivan, CEO and editorial director of Afar Media. “People are looking for more out of their travel experience than just an escapist vacation. I noticed no one in the media was talking to these people and that a lot of community could be built around it.”  

The current recession may prove a boon to the fledgling magazine, he said.

“The whole thing with the recession and seeing the excesses is hitting peoples' psyches in a way that I think will accelerate this move to looking for meaning and authenticity,” he said.

The bi-monthly will kick off a promo campaign in June, targeting likely prospects with direct mail offers. Direct mail will form the core of Afar's circulation strategy over the next five years, and the magazine is depending on selective list modeling to find just the right readers, said Laura Simkins, audience marketing director for Afar.

“We're not just building mass," John Sheehy, president and publisher of Afar, explained. "We want a strong primary core audience for the first couple of years because we are helping to identify a trend. We need strong evangelists to be early adopters.”

Afar also is leveraging a partnership with Dwell Media, with which it shares office space and sales and ad marketing resources. A 16-page mini-version of Afar will debut in the September issue of Dwell, and the two titles, whose audiences are similar in terms of demographics, also are sharing some advertisers and circ marketing lists.

Web site Afar.com is slated to launch in September as well. The site will serve as a community hub for readers and experiential travelers, allowing users to interact, post pictures and, eventually, book travel experiences.

Afar's leadership is taking a multimedia approach to the brand, with events, books, television shows and travel services in the works. An Afar Foundation also has been set up to fund exchange programs and other activities that encourage cross-cultural exchange.

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