This Travel Tip Tuesday, Cherrye and I are both doing interviews with people in the Travel Industry. You’ll have to wait until the end to find out who Cherrye is interviewing. It’s sort of a surprise!
But until then, let’s get to my interview, shall we?
Over the summer, a brand new travel magazine was launched and I was lucky enough to receive a free premier copy of the first issue.
Needless to say- I loved it!
Honestly, I used to subscribe to all of the biggies out there. Over the years, I never really connected with them, with the exception of Budget Travel.
But, I really found something different about Afar. I wanted to know more.
Susan West, the Editor-in-Chief for Afar magazine, was nice enough to pop over and answer a few questions about the new magazine!
Here is our interview:
MM: It’s pretty gutsy launching a new travel mag in this economy, when so many other magazines are closing up shop. What made you decide that now was the right time for a new Travel Mag?
Afar: Our founder, Greg Sullivan, is a serial entrepreneur, who believes a down time is actually a good time to start any business. The idea is that we’ll work out the kinks during the slow period and be in a strong position when things turn around. It’s much riskier to start an enterprise when everything is booming and there’s lots of competition.
As for why a magazine now, the whole team believes strongly in the power of magazines to inspire, create community, and build a brand. Especially in the travel category, there’s nothing like a magazine—the immediacy of fresh, inviting photography and riveting writing—to convey the pull of the road and the experience of exploring the planet. And there’s nothing like a magazine to establish a media brand and seed a community; Afar magazine is just the start of a bigger media enterprise that will soon include a social network Web site, books, events, and TV programming.
MM: We are all familiar with Budget Travel, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler- how is your magazine different and who are you hoping to reach?
Afar: We’re for people who seek experiences when they travel, who are not just “consumers” of travel like they’re consumers of fashion or food. “Experiential travel” takes you into a culture and connects you with the essence of a place and its people. Every travel magazine covers this approach to some degree—it’s a growing trend right now, and we’re certainly not claiming that we invented this type of travel—but none of the competition do it exclusively. We do.
That means we have the freedom to organize the magazine around that philosophy: For example, our departments are divided into sections called See, Connect, and Go. The See section is about seeing the world as a whole and appreciating how our culture is just one of many. The Connect section introduces readers to individuals and ideas that illustrate experiential travel. And the Go section is all the practical, how-to material.
After that come our features, which re-create on the page the experience of this type of travel. Every single one of these stories is presented from the point of view of traveling to understand another culture. So, even our so-called service information—all the must-have material about places to stay and eat—is grounded in that approach: How does this regional dish reflect the culture? How does this hotel or lodge put you in touch with the community?
The readers we’re hoping to reach—and our early feedback indicates we’re succeeding—travel because they are curious and open-minded about how the world operates and how others live. They are cultural explorers, who often follow a particular passion when they travel, who ask questions and engage with other people, who are open to the unexpected, spontaneous delights that travel offers.
I always picture two types of readers: Boomers like me who did the backpack-through-Asia thing and who now travel in a more upscale way but haven’t lost their taste for authentic experiences, and the generation behind them who grew up doing overseas community service projects in the summers and who feel comfortable anywhere in the world.
MM: I love that your mag has an eco-friendly vibe. Your Travel with a Purpose feature is a great example of how travel can have a positive impact on the environment. Can you tell us about all the things you are doing to promote the environment, both as it relates to the writing and the production of the magazine. Why is it so important to you and why should it be important to your readers?
Afar: It just makes sense that those who travel in this deeper way have these leanings. While we don’t take an advocacy stance, we do believe in responsibility. Our Good Trips department, which you mentioned, is one place where we’ll regularly offer trip ideas that align with these values. For every issue, we make a contribution to Sustainable Travel International’s Gold Standard portfolio to offset the carbon emissions generated by flights taken for the magazine, and we print on paper from sustainably managed forests. We also make a point not to use green-washing buzz words; instead we describe specifically how a particular project or accommodation choice or whatever is responsible.
MM: I notice there is no mention of the U.S. in the Premier Issue and while I love that, I am wondering what the decision was behind that? Might we see some features involving the U.S. in the future or has that market been over-saturated?
Afar: We made a deliberate decision to cover only destinations outside the U.S.. We felt that other publications were doing a good job of writing about travel in the US, and that the notion of travel to understand other cultures pointed more toward overseas destinations. But we do joke about starting a U.S. version called “Nearby”!
MM: I love the Spin the Globe concept. What are some of the upcoming areas that you’ll be reporting on in your Spin the Globe feature?
Afar: Ah, that’s part of the surprise! We really do keep those destinations under wraps so the writers don’t know until the last minute where they’re going. That department is our way of suggesting to readers that they can have amazing travel experiences without the slightest advance planning.
Thanks so much for stopping by and answering my questions Susan! I look forward to reading future editions of Afar and seeing what the upcoming destinations are for that Spin the Globe feature!
I hope you have the chance to read Afar. I wonder where it will take you?
And as promised, I wanted to reveal the surprise guest Cherrye over at My Bella Vita is interviewing. It’s none other than l’il ol’ me! Click here to learn a little more about me and My Melange.