August 2009 Launch Offers a Deeper Take on Travel
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 4, 2009) — Targeting the fast-growing but untapped segment of “experiential” travelers, AFAR Media will launch AFAR magazine in August 2009. AFAR appeals to an emerging audience of cultural explorers, who seek to connect with people and places more deeply than the average tourist. This new breakthrough publication will do for travel what Dwell did for home, Wired did for technology and Fast Company did for business: foster a unique community for these culturally curious travelers.
AFAR was conceived by Greg Sullivan, a serial international entrepreneur, over a beer on a beach in Goa, India, with business partner Joe Diaz, a former teacher. AFAR is the result of their shared thirst for a different kind of travel resource. “There were no media sources on the market for international travelers who shared our desire for deeper and more authentic experiences,” said Sullivan. “AFAR takes travelers beyond the ordinary tourist haunts to experience the authentic essence of a place.”
AFAR is helmed by some of the most talented names in the industry, including, as president and publisher, John Sheehy, who was the founding general manager of Time Inc.’s Health magazine, as well as president and publisher of Utne Reader, and COO of Weider Publications. Susan West, former executive editor of Smithsonian and co-founder of Health magazine, will be editor in chief, and Jane Palecek, the founding art director of Health and former design director of Mother Jones, will be art director. Laura Simkins, the founding consumer marketing director of Dwell, will be audience marketing director.
“AFAR’s readers are redefining travel as a way to learn, connect and grow,” said West. “So we’ll tell stories from the inside out, celebrate authenticity and offer the unexpected. Our writers will approach their subjects with the same enthusiastic curiosity that drives our readers.”
In this harsh media recession, with many established magazines being slashed and burned, AFAR replaces tired, canned and escapist travel articles with a new, rich harvest of genuine cultural experiences. According to Sullivan, “AFAR is for the non-ugly American, the one who is eager to learn about other ways of living and different perspectives that expand his or her understanding. It’s the perfect complement to the internationalism of the new administration in Washington.”
AFAR debuts in fall 2009 with an initial frequency of six times a year. The first two issues will have a rate base of 50,000, stepping up to 100,000 in 2010 and eventually growing to 300,000. The subscription rate is $19.95 per year and the cover price is $4.99.
Using the best in story-telling techniques, AFAR will immerse its readers in the real experience of travel — the connection to other people and other cultures. The magazine will encompass all aspects of experiential travel, ranging from cultural and educational to adventure and eco-travel. Through first-person accounts, departments such as “Resident,” “Nomad,” “Spin the Globe,” and “Where Travel Takes Me” will put readers at the kitchen table with its subjects. “Good Trips” will provide readers tools to follow a personal interest and find transforming encounters; while service sections such as “Stay,” “Stuff,” “Grub,” “Arts and Culture,” and “Logistics,” will offer suggestions for finding deep and unusual access into a culture. Features will explore small slices of life, follow a character’s passions, and illuminate complex global issues through individuals’ stories, providing readers with literal as well as metaphoric roadmaps for their own adventures.
Traveling Off the Page
AFAR Media is also launching the website afar.com contemporaneously with the launch of AFAR. The magazine will provide strong brand recognition and a large portion of the initial user base for afar.com, which ultimately is expected to grow to a much larger audience. The website will facilitate interaction among the community of experiential travelers, allowing them to share ideas and express their thoughts on a variety of topics, including practical ideas regarding places to stay, eat and experience throughout the world.
In phase two of the company’s plan, AFAR Media will extend the brand into additional areas, including events, travel service and planning, books, television and international licensing.
A New Psychographic
AFAR readers embody a distinctive psychographic: people who are deeply passionate about travel and experiencing the world and who have the curiosity, commitment, and cash to follow their interests.
According to a study by American Express (July 2008), 90% of respondents said that the number of vacations that involve personal passions would either remain the same or increase over the next two years, regardless of a recession. The most popular “passion drivers” for travel were culinary, adventure, music and education.
AFAR will be targeted to highly educated, affluent women and men ages 35 to 55, with a median age of 45. They are expected to be predominately professional managerial, including executives, academics, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and engineers. All seasoned travelers, a significant number of them are expected to have lived abroad at some time in their lives.
The Afar Foundation has been established to encourage cross-cultural exchange between people in the United States and the rest of the world. One of its primary objectives will be to fund exchange programs so that those who could not otherwise afford to travel and experience other people and cultures will have the opportunity to do so. The Foundation will also fund speeches, discussions, panels and debates to foster better understanding of particular cultures, people or places. In addition, the Afar Foundation will be a charitable beneficiary of many events staged by AFAR Media, such as seminars, concerts, festivals, and trips.
A Strategic Alliance
AFAR is being launched in a strategic partnership with Dwell Media. The partnership includes shared sales and ad marketing resources, as well as shared office space in both New York City and San Francisco. A special charter advertising package focusing on non-endemic marketers will be jointly sold by the Dwell and AFAR sales teams. The two independent San Francisco-based titles share a similar affluent demographic and cultural psychographic. AFAR’s president and publisher, John Sheehy, has been a long-time consultant to Dwell and developed Dwell’s original launch plan. Dwell’s president and publisher, Michela O’Conner Abrams, chairs AFAR Media’s board of advisors.
More on the Founders of AFAR
Greg Sullivan is CEO and Editorial Director of the company. Sullivan started his career as a corporate securities attorney and later an investment banker before launching a series of successful entrepreneurial ventures. In 1989, he started a business designing and manufacturing international arcade games, including the world’s largest selling coin-operated basketball game. After selling that company, Sullivan led a car retailing and finance company, growing it into a $1 billion operation with more than 100 dealerships across the country. He sold his interest in that business in 2006, and began traveling the globe, searching for his next entrepreneurial opportunity.
Joe Diaz grew up in a bi-cultural family, with one foot in Spain and the other in California. That early exposure to the global village propelled Diaz toward what he now considers his “calling” — learning about this fascinating and quirky world we live in through travel. After graduating from Duke University, Diaz spent three years working with Teach for America in the barrios of Phoenix, Arizona, before getting his masters degree. His travels have taken him across four continents, with a goal to visit all seven.
About AFAR Media:
AFAR and its companion website afar.com are published by AFAR Media, headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company will have an office in New York, with sales representatives based in major advertising markets in the country and worldwide.