Integrated marketing deals with advertisers like New Zealand Tourism and liquor marketer Allied Domecq Spirits North America's Kahlua are working for Condé Nast Traveler as it competes with category rivals Travel + Leisure and National Geographic Traveler along with other luxury lifestyle magazines.
Take the lush four-page ad section on New Zealand in Condé Nast Traveler's January issue. The New York-based monthly used photos shot by Condé Nast Media Group to help readers see Australia's neighbor through the eyes of a notable.
So here's a shot of Marcus Samuelson, chef of New York's Aquavit restaurant, angling in serene New Zealand waters. The caption reads, “Reel adventure. Marcus trades in the island of Manhattan for New Zealand's South Island mecca of anything and everything outdoors: Queenstown.” Copy on the opening page of the section is headlined, “100% Pure New Zealand With Marcus Samuelson.”
The section, also running in Gourmet, The New Yorker and Wired magazines, aims to drive traffic to the official tourism site at www.newzealand.com. Banner ads on CondéNet sites www.concierge.com and www.epicurious.com also point to the tourism site. E-mail will be sent to opted-in consumers receiving news from Concierge.com, epicurious.com and www.cntraveler.com while direct mail will go to Condé Nast Traveler subscribers.
The incentive to visit newzealand.com, especially for active travelers seeking vacations off the beaten path, is a sweepstakes offering the ultimate New Zealand adventure.
“The objective is to convert a lot of awareness of New Zealand through the 'Lord of the Rings' but to incent travelers to go now,” said Lisa Hughes, vice president and publisher of Condé Nast Traveler. “They found in their research that New Zealand is at the very top of the would-love-to-go-one-day list. So the objective was to encourage travelers to visit New Zealand now.”
A Condé Nast Traveler partnership with Kahlua for its coffee liqueur was called “Bring Home the Exotic.” Both brands created an ad section in the magazine driving readers to a five-episode television series on The Oxygen Network.
The goal was to have viewers and readers explore Mexico, Costa Rica and Hawaii as only an insider can. Two half-hour episodes focused on colonial Merida and Maya ruins in Mexico's Yucatan, two on markets in Hawaii and Kauai and one on Costa Rica's wild terrain.
Condé Nast Traveler senior editor Dana Dickey and editorial style director Mark Connolly filmed the series in August through October. The typical episode showed them in those locales sightseeing, experiencing the culture, shopping and then recreating the travel experience at home.
Oxygen aired the series in late October through early December, supported by a 12-page special section in the magazine's November issue and a three-page ad in December. An e-mail went to 250,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers to tune in to the series. Equally important, readers and viewers were encouraged to recreate the experience at home.
“This was right on strategy for Kahlua,” Hughes said. “It was the interpretation of their brand positioning: 'Bring home the exotic.' The idea here is the big push happened right at the peak of the big selling period, which is the holidays.”
Kahlua and New Zealand Tourism were among many advertisers new to Condé Nast Traveler in 2005. Others included Omega, General Motors Corp.'s Hummer, Philips, the John Paul Mitchell Systems shampoo brand, Emaar Properties for its Dubai-based Al-Burj hotel, Michael Kors, Thomas Pink and Montblanc. Among other tourism wins were the authorities for Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
Despite the new advertisers, ad pages this year dipped marginally, 0.8 percent to 1,573. But this followed a year when ad pages rose 11.4 percent to 1,581. A four-color, non-bleed full-page ad costs $80,755 and a bleed $92,868 — all rates not negotiable off the rate card.
“Truth in Travel” is Condé Nast Traveler's unique selling proposition and its brand philosophy. Writers and editors travel unannounced to destinations. They pay their own expenses. And the magazine is not a custom publication nor owned by an association, albeit that is no disqualifier to quality.
“We're not a travel magazine,” Hughes said. “We're about the travel lifestyle.”
Condé Nast Traveler, launched 19 years ago, reaches travelers with a median age of 48 and median household income of $102,354. Three of five are women, and nearly 60 percent of the readers have graduate degrees. The data, from MRI Doublebase 2005, also show that 55.6 percent have a valid passport. The rate base is 750,000. Ninety-six percent of its circulation is subscription and the rest newsstand sales. The cover price is $4.50, and the first-year introductory subscription offer is $12.
“Our basic circulation strategy for Condé Nast Traveler is to maintain and build the file with the appropriate targeted audience of affluent, frequent travelers,” said Heather Hamilton, consumer marketing director at Condé Nast Publications, parent of Condé Nast Traveler.
The magazine does this through direct mail to targeted lists, gift-giving opportunities and newsstand distribution into mainly airport terminals and bookstores. Also used are online promotions through cntraveler.com, programs with travel-related partners and distribution via luxury hotels and cruise lines.
Condé Nast Traveler in 2006 looks to do more cross-channel partnerships with marketers, Hughes said. The Internet is a key component of this strategy.
“Certainly for magazines in the travel space, print is very complementary to the Web,” she said. “It's a very intimate medium. The relationship you have with a magazine is a very intimate one, too.”