Travel Magazine Built Their Business on Trust

In 2004, South African publisher Media24 took a chance on a new bi-monthly publication call “Weg!” (“go!” is its English counterpart). Before long it mushroomed into a monthly, and continued to grow into the multi-media magazine brand it is today.

“In these times, publishers need to hunt with many arrows in our quiver. We need to increase our income opportunities,” explains Pierre Steyn, editor-in-chief. Steyn was interviewed by Piet van Niekerk and his comments appeared recently in FIPP.

“With both ‘Weg!’ and ‘go!’ it actually happened organically over the last decade. I cannot say we planned all of this but the fact is that we have created multiple income streams, all built on the foundation of our trusted printed brands. In a sense, we should count ourselves lucky because never has the time to nurture and monetise from multiple revenue streams been as necessary as right now.”

The multiple extensions came about quite naturally, starting with a caravanning section in the magazine that was hugely popular with readers.

“Someone said ‘let’s pull it out of the main magazine’,” Steyn recalls.

“The idea yielded a bi-annual caravanning supplement called ‘WegSleep’ (in a literal sense meaning “towing away”), which, within a couple of years, became a fully-fledged monthly magazine,” notes van Niekerk.

From there, other special sections soon were spun off, not just into new print editions but tours, events, workshops and even a TV show.

At the bottom of it all? A highly respected and trusted brand that puts their audience first.

“We found that readers asked for advice, trusting our editorial staff to advise them where to go, when to go and how to go,” Steyn explains. “The trust started with the fact our readers know we never accept sponsored trips or accommodation. We pay our way and write honestly. Our journalists have never been compromised on opinion, and they prefer to travel incognito.”

In an age of consumer mistrust and media scrutiny, Steyn represents the kind of publishing attitude that has strong enough legs to walk through the digital disruption and come out the other side stronger than ever.

“You need strong brands built on good journalism,” he asserts. “In our case it’s our printed parent magazines. Without these, we have nothing to sell – no ‘babies’. Only then can you start to combine data derived from social media, your website, newsletters, sales breakdowns and other analysis with some good old gut feel to explore new revenue streams.”