Why Australian Traveller launched its biggest issue in 13 years

For some time, The Australian Traveller has launched a 'top 100' special edition magazine. Managing director Quentin Long explains how advertising encouraged the publisher's biggest edition yet.

“A twenty-five minute train ride from Switzerland’s Zurich lies the city of Zug; a smaller, not so well known area home to a large expat community, the home of my own family in fact, for the better half of three years.”

“There’s no doubt the Mediterranean holds some of the most spectacular views in the world.”

This quarterly edition is the biggest in the publication’s history

“Glaciers, hot springs, forever bright summer days and never-ending winter darkness. Iceland is the go-to location any avid photographer, or explorer no matter what the season.”

What do the three sentences have in common? They are taken from a well hidden, somewhat horrendous blog of mine, from a time when I was pursuing a career in travel journalism. But that’s not the point.

The point is anyone can write about travel. And yet, there are still magazines fighting against blogger wannabes (better than my former self) which are trying to attract advertisers.

So how can they survive in this market?

Australian Traveller’s managing director Quentin Long explains it comes down to trust and making sure advertisers feel relevant.

Today, Long reveals his largest magazine from both a page and advertising revenue perspective, since the launch of the title in 2005. It features the top 100 most ‘awesome places’ in Australia to visit, and is surrounded by a number of double page advertising spreads.

“Every year since we’ve done a version of the 100 be it the 100 things you’ve never heard of, the 100 best towns or 100 best food experiences, and this year was the 100 best places to hang out in Australia,” Long explains.

“The concept was pretty simple which was we all have these great destinations and places that we love but it is the places where we pause a little bit longer, that really reward travellers and that’s what has really resonated with the advertisers, the concept of it being an annual and much bigger shelf life.

“We also innovated the way we thought about how we can scrape our advertisers into it. The days of saying ‘hey whack an ad in’ are no longer relevant or appreciated. What we have to do is this about how do best give the advertisers engagement with our audience.”

The 180-page spread recommends to reader the best places to visit in Australia

For Long, it’s about finding new ways to better engage with advertisers. He says it’s not about compromising on principles – and picking destinations dependent on advertising spend – but rather making sure the ads are aligned appropriately to the environment.

“Absolutely paramount is never compromising on our trust with the readers or compromising our principles that it is real and independent,” he says.

“It’s all about making sure the advertiser understands what they are buying, they are buying an audience that trusts what we say and without trust they aren’t buying anything. They are buying a waste of time.”

But Long isn’t concerned about the cluttered travel journalism market. A singularity of focus – Australia – allows for a broad and deep knowledge base that remains of value to advertisers.

“We are the most efficient in creating content,” Long says.

Aside from the production of the magazine, Long points to a responsibility to provide advertisers with value as a major challenge.

“Many of our advertisers are small to medium size businesses and they are giving us between 30% to 100% of their entire marketing budget. That’s a huge responsibility to make these peoples’ businesses sing.

“We really work very hard to educate everybody, the readers and the advertiser and connect them in a responsible way that makes sense for all of them.”

And despite the reported declines in publishing, Long refutes the idea print is dead. He says it’s time to move “beyond that conversation” and start talking about appropriate channels.

“The print industry has done a disservice to itself for a long time by not fighting in its corner appropriately and understanding the world that they live in,” he says.

“We’ve become not only the media platform but the creative agency, to help people in print, we become the creative agency. It’s all about how do we best present the advertiser in an authentic way that respects our brand principles but engages the audience when appropriate. That’s a really big shift that we’ve had to cross into our business. Not only do we sell the ad, in a lot of cases we create the ad.”


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