Skift Take

As the lines between independent and branded travel content blur, it will matter less who is presenting the content and more whether it's relevant and actionable for the targeted reader.

Where do brands turn when they need creative custom content that speaks to a specific set of travelers?

The answer is often large creative agencies that publish content on a broad range of topics, but a growing number of brands are also turning to boutique publishers known for their unique voice.

The small publishers’ ability to create fresh content tailored specifically to a target customer and their experience in the travel sector makes them stand out among larger creative agencies.

When looking for a media partner for a destination campaign built to help Qantas bust myths around the barriers to traveling to Australia, the airline chose travel inspiration site Fathom.

“We partner with different individuals or groups of sites in different ways depending on our campaign objectives,” a Qantas spokesperson explains.

“In this instance, we chose Fathom based on their ability to target the type of international travelers we wanted to reach to support our destination campaign.”

Fathom created four animated videos that appeared on both parties’ websites.

The site’s founder Pavia Rosati admits it was a pleasant surprise to be chosen as the publication is often considered too small to get the bids that come across its table.

“We wanted to work on this project with Qantas because the goal was to get people to Australia and get them there on Qantas,” explains Pavia.

“This was easy for us to do since Fathom is all about inspiring and encouraging people.”

In addition to Qantas, Fathom also writes Kate Spade’s travel guides and has previously worked with Lincoln and The Bindery.

Brand, Publisher Synergy

Brand synergy is particularly important when it comes to which brands and publishers work together. It is often the publishers’ unique voice and take on travel that makes them stand out among other options.

“The synergy is of course important, but often times, the brands seek us out; essentially they are saying we’re on the wavelength with their brand rather than us having to pitch them and make them aware of that,” writes Alexander Basek, co-founder of customized itinerary creator Fortnighter.

“Because we can customize the content so specifically, unlike a content project that’s licensing pre-existing copy, we can also tailor what we do to the brand itself.”

In addition to its custom itineraries, Fortnighter has also created tailored content for brands including Mercedes-Benz, FoundersCard, Yotel and Inspirato.

An Inspirato spokesperson says the company went with Fortnighter over other vendors because the boutique publisher offered the the best combination of quality and price.

“As a smaller vendor, we knew we were getting the best mix of custom content, controlled voice, and price without having to enter into a long term engagement that many larger agencies demand,” says Inspirato spokesperson Christine Rafanelli.

“Fortnighter’s contributors are experts in the destinations they cover and often live in the areas they write about. That local insight and expertise is invaluable to our members.”

Individual Contributors

Louis Vuitton skipped creative agencies and publishers all together and went directly to individual journalists and authors for its limited edition 2014 City Guides.

“Louis Vuitton calls upon a team of independent journalists and authors who travel the world investigating and selecting establishments that meet our city guides’ spirit and editorial lines,” explains a Louis Vuitton representative.

Blurred Lines

For travelers, it might not matter whether the travel content they consume comes from brands or independent writers. Travel, like other lifestyle brands, often blurs the lines between sponsored and unbiased content.

“Consumers want good content that they can engage with, even if it’s from a brand,” says Rosati.

“The editor in me wants to say that consumers 100-percent know the difference between sponsored and original, but the critic in me says they just want something good.”

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Tags: content, guides, marketing, qantas

Photo credit: Fathom Away creates stylish city guides for Kate Spade. Kate Spade

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