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National Geographic Forms Travel Group and Keeps Print Central to Strategy

@denschaal

Sep 04, 2013 1:13 pm

Skift Take

As far as its print strategy, National Geographic is such an iconic brand that it may be a special case. Yes, print definitely has a role, especially for guidebooks when roaming charges would otherwise come into play, but experiential writing, if not photography, can be savored just as nicely on tablets.

— Dennis Schaal

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National Geographic

National Geographic Traveler redesigned its print and tablet editions, and is investing in print when others are running away. National Geographic


This is a time to celebrate print, and not merely digitize it.

That’s the view of Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler and senior vice president of the newly formed National Geographic Travel group.

At a time when print guidebook publishers from Zagat and Frommer’s to Thomas Cook have severely scaled back or eliminated print products, and magazines in general have seen their pages facing pressure from diminished advertising, National Geographic says it is reinvesting in National Geographic Traveler magazine by “increasing trim size, using heavier paper stock and unveiling a bold new redesign with the October issue that allows for richer photography and a cleaner reader experience.”

“Print has a lot to offer,” Bellows says. “If anything, this is a time to celebrate what print, which is an amazingly intimate medium, does so well.”

Bellows argues that print can do things, ranging from providing inspiration and experiential writing to great photography, that digital may not be able to do as well.

National Geographic announced today that the institution has consolidated its varied travel assets, including National Geographic Traveler magazine, National Geographic Expeditions, its travel books, digital travel content, maps, apps and travel community, into a new Travel Group.

Previously travel books were in a books division, Expeditions was standalone, and digital travel assets were separate from National Georgraphic Traveler, Bellows says.

Now, National Geographic has consolidated its dispersed travel operations into the Travel Group, and that makes things more “coherent,” Bellows says, with one unit able to build on the activities of the other.

For example, the Travel Group has mounted “read it, do it” campaigns such as when Expeditions created an Antarctica cruise based on a National Geographic Traveler article about the Antarctic experience, Bellows says.

And, the Books unit has published books based on ideas that were generated in the magazine, he adds.

Bellows says National Geographic Traveler has a “pure” circulation — no freebies — of 615,000 readers in the U.S. and Canada, and also has 15 international editions, making for a total circulation of 1.5 million. In the U.S. market that added up to nearly $12 million in ad revenue last quarter.

In addition to redesigning the print edition of National Geographic Traveler, the iPad/tablet version has been refined, as well.

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