Media Analysis: Pictures pave way to magic of travel

As the school summer holidays begin and people scour the press for last-minute vacation ideas, Tom Williams investigates what it takes for PROs to secure a prominent spot inside the major consumer travel magazines.

In spite of an economic slowdown, travel remains a vibrant business in the UK. Government figures show that 41 million of us took a foreign holiday in 2003, one million up on the year before. But the glossy consumer travel magazine market is anything but an easy ride. The Association of British Travel Agents' magazine Travel Spirit folded in January because of intense competition for the 'centre ground' of the holiday market from The Sunday Times Travel.

Newcomer Trip, from Edinburgh-based The Media Company, is preparing its September issue. Editor Aileen de Pavon says it will go after 'cash-rich, time-poor readers in their 20s and 30s'. But she will have her work cut out to grab a slice of the wider market dominated by Wanderlust, The Sunday Times Travel and Conde Nast Traveller.

Picture perfect

David Ezra, a director at travel PR specialist The Saltmarsh Partnership, describes Conde Nast Traveller as 'the Holy Grail' for travel PR because of its stylish, sophisticated and often big-spending readership. But he also counsels forging relationships with each magazine's regular pool of freelances, adding: 'They are very much photo-centric and care a lot about the look of the publication. But in practice there is not a great deal of difference in their approach.'

He also recommends more lateral thinking when pitching to less obvious titles such as Food & Travel and Harpers & Queen.

While Conde Nast Traveller claims to be the only publication that does not accept 'freebies', this policy does not seem to have been very successful or widely adopted elsewhere in the industry. But it does not follow that the travel glossies are an easy sell. Their editors operate in a crowded market and cutthroat atmosphere - they demand the best pictures and ideas, as well as exclusivity, to differentiate themselves.

There is space for product promotion alongside the traditional destination plug. But PROs should make their pitches unusual and inspirational, and attach a good picture.


Publisher: Conde Nast

Editor: Sarah Miller

ABC: 83,092

Frequency: Monthly


Is it fair to describe Traveller as an aspirational magazine?

We are a glossy from the same stable as Vogue, Vanity Fair and Home & Garden and we're certainly aspirational and upmarket. But that doesn't mean we are expensive. We appeal to all ages, from youngsters on a gap year to 55-year-olds.

How do you use exclusives?

If we get an exclusive we are likely to give it 12 to 14 pages. This is great for PROs. Although they may get fewer enquiries from an article in Traveller, nearly all of these queries convert to bookings.

Give us some tips for securing coverage in Traveller

We are the only travel magazine that has a no-freebies policy. People should not ask me to do a feature on Spain, for example, which is a place and not an idea. Any story with coverline potential is always good.


Publisher: River Publishing

Editor: Ed Grenby

ABC: 61,135

Frequency: Bimonthly

Contact:; 020 7306 0304

Who are your readers?

Real people who take real holidays. They are middle class and take two to three holidays, and two to three short breaks, a year.

What does that mean for coverage?

We don't write about treks to find the lost Omo tribe. We look at more traditional city breaks and destinations, such as New Zealand and the Caribbean, which are still very popular. We have a 25-page guide on a region or country, and sections on adventure holidays and safaris. Half of our readers will keep issues for up to six months for reference.

Any other tips for PROs?

We also review travel equipment, gadgets and things such as airline food - a lot of people also forget we have a books section, too. And it's also nice to get top-ranking celebrities to take a trip for us.


Publisher: Wanderlust Publications

Editor-in-chief: Lyn Hughes

Circulation: 37,000 (estimated)

Frequency: Monthly

Contact:; 01753 620 426

How are you different?

Our readers are going there and doing it. Our ethos is authentic, rather than aspirational.

Explain your subject matter

We give information on how to plan trips and cover in detail the secret corners of the world. In our latest issue, for example, we are covering Nordic walking in Switzerland, which has a via Ferranto route.

How important are pictures?

Pictures are vital and PROs are getting better at finding them for us. Sometimes if the photo is really great we will find something to go with it and build the article around it.

What are the main growth areas that you cover?

William Gray writes a regular column, Travel with Kids, on family holidays and there is a lot of interest in career breaks.

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