Anita Chabria discovers how Conde Nast Traveler might change the
editorial mix as a result of the recent terrorist attacks
Conde Nast Traveler is one of the top titles for adventurous
globetrotters, with the September edition carrying pieces on places
ranging from Hanoi to Malibu. Unfortunately, there was also a piece
about New York's Hudson River, illustrated by a photo of a person
canoeing in front of the World Trade Center. Like many other magazines,
Traveler has been forced to make changes to future issues as a result of
the September 11 terrorist attacks.
A recent poll of some of Traveler's 750,000 paid subscribers found that
the majority are not afraid of travel, and will continue to roam the
globe, says editor-in-chief Thomas Wallace, who has been with the title
But he adds that the next issue will focus heavily on safety and
logistics, and that those topics will continue to be covered in the
The magazine also axed an upcoming article on "air rage," and will
probably avoid subjects that may seem too close to the tragedy. However,
safety-related products and advice may find a good reception for future
pitches, and experts on new regulations and current events may be
While most people think of Traveler as a destinations title, Wallace
says the book's mission is far broader than just exposing exotic locales
- it's a full-service bible for travel aficionados, both business and
pleasure. This month's edition carries a fashion spread shot in Paris
and a piece on the filming of Captain Corelli's Mandolin in Greece.
"For all 14 years of its life, the magazine has done all it can to help
its readers manage their travel, make intelligent decisions, and keep
them informed about what's going on at a destination or in the industry
itself," he explains.
The magazine runs around six features a month, with sections that cover
subjects such as fashion, food, and history. There is certainly room for
creative PR execs to find a niche for their product with a clever travel
"Pitches can be as out there as you want," says Michelle Connolly of New
York-based MFC Public Relations, as long as they keep the travel angle
at the forefront. Connolly specializes in accessories, and has placed
numerous clients in Traveler. She successfully pitched a new watch by
high-end Swiss company Audemars Pigueg to fashion market editor Hyla
Because the watch can give sunrise and sunset times from any place in
the world, she knew it not only had the strong travel component that the
magazine requires, but also fit its upscale and cutting-edge image. She
says Bauer is usually willing to set up appointments to see new
products, but "is pretty familiar with what's out there."
While most PR people have found Traveler staff to be very available and
friendly, Wallace says that the majority of ideas are generated
Less than 50% of feature ideas come from outside sources, and
front-of-the-book sections such as "Stop Press" have a dedicated
in-house staff devising its own angles. The September issue had items on
how to get cheap theater tickets around the world.
Wallace says feature ideas that can be included in a larger story, or
subjects mentioned on the magazine's editorial calendar, are the best
pointers for PR people. When it comes to choosing those big stories, "we
want a very strong narrative," says Wallace. "A personal connection is
also important. We want the story to have an animating idea."
When Traveler does pick up an outside pitch, it involves a bit of luck -
it usually means the idea was something the magazine already had in
"They were very open to hearing about new locations," says LA-based
Andrea Kaye, a senior media specialist with Golin/Harris International.
"But they had a specific angle that they were looking for."
"They very much have their own ideas and editorial schedules that aren't
influenced by PR practitioners," agrees Karen Gee-McAuley, SVP of
LA-based The Blaze Company.
Gee-McAuley reps high-end hotels such as the Oaks at Ojai (a spa/hotel
outside of LA), many of which make it into Traveler special issues such
as February's annual Gold List. The Gold List is a selection of the
"creme de la creme" of travel, from cruises to hotels. She adds that
even when Traveler staff have visited her properties in the past; they
often do so anonymously, and on their own schedule.
She recommends pitching at least six months in advance, and asking for
feedback even when an idea is declined. "They're very open about
discussing decisions," she says.
CONDE NAST TRAVELER
Tel.: (212) 286-2860
Fax: (212) 286-2190
Web: www.concierge.com; www.cntraveler.com
Editor-in-chief: Thomas Wallace
Features editors: Alison Humes; Gully Wells; Irene Schneider
News editor: Krista Carothers
Consumer news editor: Wendy Perrin
Fashion markets editor: Hyla Bauer