Telum Talks To... Cara Wagstaff, Associate Publisher, Signature Media
Signature Media specialises in travel magazines, with key brands including Holidays with Kids and Signature Luxury Travel & Style. How have these titles pivoted to new content in the midst of the pandemic?
When the government announced a complete and indefinite travel ban, we quickly pivoted to launch two new digital titles, with the shared goal of keeping our readers informed and engaged as well as our staff employed.
For our Holidays with Kids readers, we launched "Family Matters by HWK", covering armchair travel, education at home, and a tips and tricks section to help keep families happy, healthy, and entertained at home.
Signature@home, meanwhile, takes everything that is great about the Signature Luxury Travel & Style print magazine - the dreamy images, the insider intel, the upscale experiences - and makes it relevant to our current situation. Each issue features healthy recipes, interviews with wellness gurus, ideas to transform your home, and more. We’re still sharing inspirational travel content and insights into what leading luxury tourism and hospitality brands are doing at this time, as well.
Now, as we begin to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions, we’re swiftly pivoting yet again to reintroduce intrastate travel into our mix of lifestyle content, to inspire our readers to plan their next holiday.
Signature Media recently acquired Australia’s longest-running travel magazine, Vacations & Travel. How do you plan on leveraging Vacations & Travel’s long-standing audience and brand?
The acquisition of Vacations & Travel sees the title fit neatly into our publishing portfolio, and it brings with it a loyal and engaged audience. Given the complementary nature of our titles, we’re able to use this acquisition as a way to increase cross-promotion across various platforms - whether print magazines, websites, newsletters, or social media - and in doing so, boosting the overall reach of each title.
By adding Vacations & Travel to our product portfolio, we’re also able to amplify and increase the reach we can achieve for our clients, something we know is so important now the tourism industry is starting to build once again.
With international travel still off the cards for the foreseeable future, what have been some key focuses for Signature Media’s travel stories?
We are, of course, concerned about Australia’s bushfire-affected areas and are aware of the need to drive tourism to these regions. We had just sent our Autumn issue of Holidays with Kids to print as COVID-19 hit Australia, and we dedicated the issue to domestic travel and raising awareness of parts of the country most in need of tourism support in the wake of the bushfires.
Fast forward a couple of months and the entire Australian tourism industry is suffering from the loss of domestic and international visitors. Now, more than ever, we’re conscious of the need to support the country as a whole, and we’re excited to be in a position to inspire and encourage our readers to travel intrastate initially, then interstate as borders reopen.
We’re doing this by covering the "good news" stories: border openings, hotel and resort re-openings, and new safety measures, as well as sharing tips on how to stay safe and healthy while travelling.
Now that NSW intrastate travel is permitted, we are starting to refocus on road trips, national parks, and holiday parks in Holidays with Kids. For Signature Luxury Travel & Style, we’re spotlighting the ultra-luxury end of the market - a sector we’re confident will bounce back first. Our content across the print publication and ebook will focus on private planes, yachts and villas, which we believe will be the future of upscale travel in a post-COVID-19 world, allowing people to see the country while avoiding crowded commercial planes, for example.
Travel media is largely dependent on the ability for journalists to travel and to provide authentic reviews; how has the Signature Media team faced the challenge of being unable to travel?
Our team and stable of regular writers have been blessed to visit pretty much every corner of the globe - collectively, we hold an unrivaled understanding of the world, with our experiences and contacts allowing us to continue creating inspiring travel content even though we’re currently grounded.
Our content in recent months has also been aspirational, looking at, for example, virtual travel experiences, top reads for travel lovers, podcasts that will take you around the world, and where we want to visit most when restrictions are lifted. Our titles also include lifestyle content. Combined, we’re able to keep our readers informed about the world while providing tips and tricks for making the most of their time at home.
Both the media and PR industries have been affected by travel lockdown. What, if anything, can PRs do to help work with and support Signature Media at this time?
We have loved receiving all the virtual travel experiences that tourism boards and operators have created in recent months. There have been so many incredible offerings, but we feel it’s now time to evolve and look for new ways to engage our readers. PRs need to bring a new level of creativity and originality to the industry, to continue capturing the interest and attention of the travel media. We're excited to see what operators will dream up next, and we encourage them to share their inspired releases and updates with us.
Stories from Ski and Snowboard are now housed within Holidays with Kids. How deeply do Signature Media’s titles work together and complement each other?
We’ve been incredibly strategic when building our brand, with the goal of creating a portfolio that complements, rather than competes. From luxury to adventure to families, our publications span pretty much every travel demographic in the market. This is not a coincidence - it’s a decision we made to allow us to share content across platforms and, as a result, amplify the exposure we’re able to give our clients and supporters.