State of Travel Media 2016

by Todd Wasserman + Skift Team - Jun 2016

Skift Research Take

Like all media, travel media is constantly reinventing itself to adapt to new technologies and changing consumer behaviors. We talk to leaders in the field and look at external threats and opportunities as represented by Facebook, mobile, and advertising.

Report Overview

These are tricky times for any media property. In an increasingly crowded digital space, legacy publications like The New York Times are struggling to make up for lost print revenues via digital offerings. Some, like The Economist Group, are faring better by offsetting falling print revenues with content marketing and custom research. Meanwhile, Facebook has emerged as a major headache for publishers, with the launch of Instant Articles, its pervasive positioning with consumers and ability to coerce publishers into giving it control of ad revenues. For some, online video has emerged as a savior, though creating such content remains expensive, competitive, and incongruent with certain content categories. Static written and banner oriented content now needs to compete with visually stimulating and easily digestible video campaigns. Against this backdrop even BuzzFeed, a title that many thought had figured out the new landscape, has struggled to live up to revenue expectations.

Travel media has been subject to the same trends. Venerable titles like National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure are also watching as their print revenues continue to decline. Like The New York Times, they are struggling to herd their audiences onto digital, with varying degrees of success. Upstarts like Matador, Boat and Cereal are faring better and drawing attention, but, like BuzzFeed, are still subject to the vicissitudes of the new media landscape.

Faced with a fractured media environment and the fact that search plays such a large role in consumer travel decisions, companies like Marriott are taking matters into their own hands with branded content offerings that essentially turn brands into publishers. Actual publishers, meanwhile, attempt to adapt by offering their own branded content programs, but also are aghast at the possibility that they might be cut out of the equation entirely.

In this report, we’ll examine how media consumption patterns are reordering the pantheon of travel media brands. We’ll also look at how travel media brands are adapting, including best practices and worst practices that have prompted media properties to thrive and suffer in this environment. Finally, we tune into the trends that will produce a whole new list of winners and losers in the coming years.