Skift, the travel-industry site, is the latest digital media operation to launch a print magazine, which comes out Jan. 13.
“I do think that print still has a value used strategically with a … digital-only company,” said Skift chief executive Rafat Ali, who founded the website for travel industry professionals in 2012. POLITICO, Capital New York, Pitchfork and PandoDaily are other examples of digital media outlets with insider readerships that now publish print magazines to complement their websites.
Skift magazine builds on the site’s annual travel trend forecast, which is published as a PDF and is “by far the most popular thing we do every year,” Ali said. “We sort of took the next logical step and said we should create something even more permanent than that, which is a print magazine that sort of encapsulates what we’re trying to do in terms of making a definite document in trends in travel.”
For now, Ali views the print product—which will be mailed to a calculated list of recipients and distributed at a launch event on Jan. 13—as a marketing tool to attract potential advertisers, clients and readers, rather than a new ad revenue stream. (Skift, which was founded with venture-capital funding, earns revenue through the sale of trend reports, branded content, and conference tickets.)
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But “advertisers still love print magazines, and they love seeing themselves in [them],” Ali said.
The first issue of Skift magazine is sponsored by the airline Virgin Atlantic, the travel sector tech company Amadeus and Expedia’s corporate travel division, Egencia. It features 15 travel trends for 2015.
Ali, a fan of such indie magazines as the U.K.-based global luxury lifestyle title Monocle and its Middle Eastern counterpart, Brownbook, hopes to increase Skift’s frequency and hire an in-house graphic designer to oversee the next issue.
Skift.com has an average of a million unique visitors a month, according to Ali; most of the site’s traffic comes through its email newsletters.