Skift Take

Our brand would take the best work from professionals and compile it into a multi-media outlet where one could not only be inspired, but have the knowledge to turn that inspiration into reality.

Editor’s note: Skift is two years old as of today, and we’re rolling out a week of special travel industry coverage. This is one of a series you can find in full here, as we roll out these stories.

Travel media is going through an existential crisis with glossy magazines changing hands and leaders and travel blogging stagnating with too little quality or consistency to grow.

We often note amongst ourselves that our daily travel inspiration or release comes not from the pages of monthly s iconic covers but from tweets, small startups covering niche topics, foreign musings and novels with no obvious intent of informing our next trip.

If we were to create the quintessential travel media brand of today, it would not dismiss travel content’s previous life of tips and itineraries nor obsess itself with the merits artisanal topics told only in tweets.

Ours would be a mix of yesterday’s best features and tomorrow’s most interactive formats. Calling on the brands, features and pieces that came before us, we present the perfect Frankenstein of travel media, a starter pack of everything we love to read and see about travel.

Classic Itineraries: An unknown destination holds little appeal to the uninformed traveler, but just one glimpse at the culture, attraction or cuisine that awaits can move a pin on a map to the top of a bucket list. New York Times36 Hours feature is our go-to for detailed but digestible travel guides. Although we might not follow every recommendation, it gives us an idea of the possibilities in destinations from Paris to Provincetown.

Music: Listening to a destination’s native music scene is one of the easiest ways to access its soul and nothing sparks the imagination quite like a beat you can immediately tap along to. For these reasons, we put Monocle’s Atlantic Shift radio program in the mix. The program plays four hours of music from destinations around the world, each picked by Monocle’s trustworthy editorial team. The artist and title of each song is easily found on the bottom of Monocle’s website for those ready to dive down YouTube rabbit hole for more.

Illustrations: We’d want an illustrator around to bring ideas and destinations to life in a new way, and we’d turn to the team at They Draw & Travel to make that happen. While we wouldn’t recommend you delete the Google Maps app from your smartphone, we would tell you to explore a destination from an illustrator’s inspirational point of view.

Architecture: Although we often seek (especially as New Yorkers) outdoor destinations far from buildings and general busyness, we also appreciate seeing how cities and homes are done in places with far more room than Manhattan. That’s just one of the reasons that Architizer’s Project of the Day feature would have a prominent place in our new brand. Not only are the buildings beautiful in their design and angles, but they provide insight into the types of places where people live, work, breathe and love around the world.

Individual Profiles: Our new media brand has no need for the talking heads of travel that many of today’s outlets turn to out of convenience rather than cleverness. We’re more interested in learning about the locals that — whether they’ve stayed local or not — have built meaningful careers influenced by an area’s culture and history.

Some of the most unique and interesting piece we’ve read come from Brownbook, a self-described urban guide to the Middle East that is really so much more. Their eye for finding authentic and inspirational individuals is unmatched and all the more impressive when coupled with their story details vivid imagery.

Food: Writing about food in travel magazines is always just so — tasty. And we use that term sarcastically. With few exceptions every description of food is all positive and rarely tells you something interesting about what eating there is really like. That’s why we love Alan Richman’s reviews on and in the magazine. He’s not afraid to trash a place he doesn’t like (he’s persona non grata in New Orleans) or go against the grain by exposing hot restaurants as poor guest experiences. And unlike many travel writers, he travels where he’s eating, thanks to an expense budget from a glossy magazine.

Family: We turn to two sources separated by sea for our family section. We’d have no one besides John Moore, creative director for The POP Studio and co-founder of The General Store, document family life on the road. Moore’s personal Instagram account chronicles his family’s life highlighting moments of play, tranquility and movement on the road. Any family focused-content curatedy by Feather+Flip co-founder Henley Vazquez who previously wrote for traditional travel media and is now building a family trip planning site.

Photography: Despite the hundreds of skilled and innovative photographers that more often using their talents on Instagram over magazine spreads today, we’re referring to the masters on this one. For decades, National Geographic has consistently exceeded readers’ expectations with the quality and content of its photography. The magazine’s photos tell a story that require no words by translating emotions into imagery, an element any true travel brand must be able to achieve.

Features: It’s a mix of jealousy and fandom that drive us to Roads & Kingdoms so frequently. It’s in-depth stories about destinations aren’t focused on service journalism, they’re focused on telling a compelling story about a place, sometimes in a way that will make travelers rethink their priorities. This, for instance, is how they sell a story about Lampedusa, Italy: “Foreign correspondent Stephan Faris visits the island of Lampedusa, which is both a tourist destination and a grim waystation for migrants crossing the Mediterranean.”

What did we leave out? What would you include if creating the perfect multi-media travel brand today? Let us know in the comments.

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Tags: content, magazines, media, skifttwo

Photo credit: A photo from National Geographic's daily photo blog. National Geographic

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