Around the Demographic World with Three New Travel Books

Article excerpt

Byline: PAMELA BLACK

After two years in the dumps, thanks to international strife and disasters, travel magazines are starting to roar back, and three new titles targeting very distinct markets have slipped into the mix. The tony Town & Country is going after the highest of the high-end market, while Travel Savvy targets the young and the hip, and The Out Traveler is out to get the gay voyageur.

Town & Country Travel wants to capture the creme de la creme - the top 10 percent of the travel market. That is, households with average net worth of $2.8 million and average annual income of $270,000. "The goal is to be the most high-end travel magazine on the market," says Jim Taylor, publisher of Town & Country and its travel spin-off. "The travel market is crowded but this segment is booming," he says. "The high-end traveler is spending more for space and safety. They're traveling with the whole family and getting villas and suites."

The magazine is currently being distributed free to the 390,000 T&C subscribers, with another 150,000 issues available on the newsstand. Where the circ winds up after the second free issue in April isn't clear but, with its selective audience, Taylor guesses it will be less than T&C's. The premiere issue, which was launched on September 15, will be the only one for 2003. Next year, the magazine will appear quarterly, in April, June, October, and December.

The modest cover ($4.95) and subscription price ($16) belie the interior's fancy fare. With largish type and seductive pictures, it features sophisticated names such as R.W. Apple, The New York Times correspondent who writes about his return to Vietnam nearly 30 years after he covered the war there. There's an article on making the best pasta in Tuscany, by Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun, and an interview with the travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux. Editor Pamela Fiori, formerly EIC at Travel + Leisure, visits three luxury safari lodges in South Africa.

Destinations vary in price throughout the magazine, from $24,750 a day for a party of eight to $2,250 for a four-bedroom condo at Utah's Deer Valley Ski Resort.

What distinguishes Town & Country Travel from the two dominant luxury-travel mags - Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler - is the exclusivity of the T&C audience. "We're the screen that filters out all that information for the reader and says here are the two or three places to stay at the highest end," says Taylor. With 52 ad pages in a 150-page folio, the Town and Country moniker, and the backing of Hearst behind it, this luxury liner of a book has plenty of ballast to stay the course.

By contrast, Travel Savvy is a jaunty jammer sailing close into the wind, aiming to appeal to the young and hip - a potentially large, untapped audience. Business Traveler veterans Adam Rodriguez, 34, and Gina Masullo, 25, wanted to start a travel magazine that "wasn't the same stale old thing. We found from our research that nearly every national travel magazine targeted a median age of 49 to 55 years," says Rodriquez. "Yet it doesn't cost as much to travel as it used to. We wanted to create a magazine that brought in a younger age group."

With a staff of six and a stable of freelance journalists culled from an ad placed on MediaBistro, the magazine is certainly different from the dominant books in the category. Editorially, Travel Savvy is going for a personal touch, says Masullo: "We wanted the travel to feel firsthand - to tell you the story like you're hearing it from a friend, someone who travels to a destination a lot or lives there, and we wanted to include interviews with travel service types like concierges and flight attendants."

The stories are long on first-person descriptions and are written with a style that succeeds in capturing the small unexpected moments that make travel thrilling. Besides party destinations in Reykjavik and the sociosexuality of traveling in Cuba, the first issue explores Austin, Chicago, and Cape Town. …