Print Still Matters – Part 2
January 14, 2016

This is the concluding post from the talk titled Print Still Matters, at the 2016 New York Times Travel Show. If you haven’t already, read Part 1 to see my review on the 3 reasons why print still matters. In this post, I’ll explore the relationship between print and digital in the travel space.

We can all hear the deafening noise surrounding digital and the multi-screen environment. So last year, as an experiment, we created the #hemigram social media campaign for United Airlines’ Hemisphere magazine.

The premise was really simple:  We invited passengers to photograph themselves with a Hemisphere magazine on the plane, or at a location, or with their pets; and we offered them no other incentive other than the chance to appear in the print magazine. And we were blown away by results.

With a deep sense of humor and originality, passengers were stimulated to participate, connect and share – regardless of their age, location and cabin position! And their special moments were beautiful, positive and personal.

Despite other distractions, we received thousands of submissions, gained new followers to our social channels, and we picked up hundreds of thousands of impressions with high engagement rates. All because we offered the chance to appear in print!

Through this positive project, we have further proved deep engagement and real connectivity with the readers. It also helped provide us with a platform to further demonstrate that around 74% of passengers on a United Airlines flight read the magazine and that many are spending over 28 minutes with the title. Powerful knowledge to have and we have learned much.

It has changed the way we look to promote our magazines and has helped us further look at ways to use print and digital together. We are finding that it’s not about “one or other”… It’s about both.  

So let’s forget this idea that there is a conflict between print and digital in the travel space today. There isn’t!

Last week has seen the perfect example. Cut a long story short; Samuel L Jackson is featured on the cover of United Airlines’ Rhapsody magazine, and basically via the New York Post and Daily Mail (sorry New York Times); the story went viral.  So much so, the media circus that is Donald Trump tweeted about it. Great to have a top trending story from a print travel magazine.


Travel operators find themselves to be their own media companies as they have a HUGE and loyal audience that regularly connects, engages and interacts with their brand.

I mean.  Just think: American Airlines will have 500,000 people on their planes today – and sitting in front of them is a high quality free magazine that is upbeat and beautiful. AND people read it. LOTS of people read it. In fact passenger numbers are going up around 5% year on year… so print matters more and more in this travel space.

You only need to look around at other contemporary media companies to see that they too have print at their heart of their communication strategy.  The best illustration of this actually comes from one of travels most disruptive and innovative “digital” companies of the last few years. AirBnB. Love them or hate them; they have change the industry forever.

They recently launched Pineapple magazine with the intention to: “to explore our fundamental values: sharing, community and belonging,” and to “inspire and motivate exploration, not just within the cities featured, but within any space a reader finds themselves.”

They get it. That’s AirBnB.  And they are by no means alone – even outside the travel space.  Other recent digital converts to print are worth noting:

Health information company WebMD, fashion company Net-a-Porter, and my personal favourite: the company that – and I quote: “tracks all the latest consumer technology breakthroughs and shows you what’s new, what matters, and how technology can enrich your life.” CNET, has turned to print.  

So let me conclude and say that print matters as it builds positive, deep relationships and comes with loyalty with a strong level of trust that is as relevant today as it ever had been. Our travel media is positive. Our travel media helps you explore. Our travel media allows you to dream. Our media stimulates you. And our travel media works.

Let me leave you with one last point:

Did Caitlyn Jenner choose to reveal her new identity with a first interview on a TV show or with a video on a social media network? No… She took the decision to walk towards the most beautiful printed words and with the best photographer around today. And, quite simply – it immediately established her reputation and set the record straight before her new life had even started.

Print is part of people’s everyday life today and it always will be.

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