As publishers look to generate new streams of revenue, they’re moving beyond the screen. By selling travel packages, publishers are diversifying revenue and strengthening the relationships they have with readers.
Thrillist became the latest in a string of high-profile publishers to start selling travel packages earlier this year. The publication, which is a part of Ground Nine Media, partnered with Academic Travel Abroad Inc. on the project. Academic Travel Abroad is an educational travel provider. The company will curate the trips that Thrillist promotes to its large audience of readers.
While travel publishers have been selling these kind of packages for years, the phenomenon is still relatively new in the broader digital publishing space. Lonely Planet entered the space just recently. The publisher partnered with a travel operator called Intrepid Travel on its packages. Lonely Planet is now promoting hundreds of branded group tours, most of which are focused on sustainable travel.
In the UK, The Times & The Sunday Times is now selling trips to readers through “trusted partners.” While the escorted tours and cruises are promoted on The Times’ own website, they’re actually managed by Exodus Travels, an adventure holiday company wholly independent of News UK.
Selling travel packages gives publishers a way to take advantage of their audience databases and diversify their revenue. In the vast majority of cases, publishers aren’t actually planning or organizing the trips themselves. They’re partnering with established travel companies on that part. The main job of the publisher is to promote the trip through articles, social media posts, and email marketing.
Depending on how involved they want to become, publishers can help their travel partners design trips that their readers are likely to be interested in. After all, publishers should know their audiences’ likes and dislikes. Publishers also have the ability, via email marketing, to solicit feedback from readers about where they are interested in traveling or what types of tours they prefer.
Experts say that content is the anchor for publishers selling travel packages. Through a combination of editorial and promotional content, digital publishers have the opportunity to market their trips like no one else can. Videos, photographs, and written articles can all be pieced together to create engaging promotional packages.
While it is important that news publishers make clear what content is editorial and what content is promotional, that can usually be achieved through a small “sponsored” header placed atop sales materials.
Outside of the promotion of curated trips, publishers are taking a mostly hands-off approach. Few publishers actually sell the trips packages on their own websites. Instead, readers are directed via links to the partner company’s website to complete their transactions. The travel partners typically supply the descriptions of trip activities, cost breakdowns, and handle the day-to-day management of any tours.
At most, publishers will sometimes send one or two of their most high profile editors or writers on the trips to act as ambassadors. These staffers might file a few stories about the trip itself. They also typically interact with fellow travelers and field questions about the publication.
How to Get Started
If you’re interested in selling travel packages, it’s a good idea to start small. Brainstorm potential trips that make sense given your publication’s niche. For example, if you run a digital sports magazine, then you should consider selling travel packages to major league ballparks or important sports events. If you run a city or regional magazine, then your readers might be interested in curated tours around your local area.
If travel is not your expertise, then it’s smart to find a trusted tour operator to partner with on the project. Most tour operators will jump at the opportunity to partner with an established publisher. Publishers bring so much to the table, as far as promotional content is concerned, which minimizes the financial risk for the tour operator.
To learn more about all the latest revenue diversification strategies for digital publishers, contact Web Publisher PRO today.