Travel & Leisure, one of the world’s leading travel magazines, has been partnering the tourism ministry to promote India as an enchanting tourist destination, especially in the US market. The partnership was formed in 2003 and Travel & Leisure has an ongoing 360-degree communication programme involving advertising, online, events, and direct mailing that they are executing for the Ministry of Tourism for the 2006 Incredible India campaign.
Speaking more on the partnership, Julie McGowan, Senior Vice-president, Travel & Leisure, said, “We have a very strong, extensive and innovative partnership with Incredible India. This partnership has been going on since 2003. We have many components to it that make for an advertising and marketing partnership. The interesting element in it is that it is anchored by the Ministry of Tourism.”
McGowan highlighted the fact that they have been able to approach the state tourism offices due to the support that they had got from the Ministry of Tourism, anchored by Amitabh Kant.
“The idea behind forging this partnership was to get more and more Americans to India,” said McGowan.
Elaborating further on the partnership, she said, “We have developed this programme (after various conversations and meetings with the Ministry) which involves special advertising sections that run in the magazine. They are all reprinted and mailed. This partnership is different and innovative because it has brought together the Central government, state governments, and private sectors to collaborate in an advertising programme that has produced measurable results, measurable because of our connection with American Express.”
Travel & Leisure is published by American Express Publishing Corporation.
As far as talks with other partners are concerned, McGowan said, “We expect to do business with Park, Shangri-la, Leela Group of hotels and ITC.”
As part of the partnership, Travel & Leisure have advertising sections, and take special efforts to focus on India’s heritage and culture; sometimes it focuses on spa and wellness, sometimes on Ayurveda and sometimes on cuisine. However, these were not editorial pieces but advertorials, McGowan pointed out.
She also highlighted the fact that because of the ownership of American Express, they were able to put together a compelling programme and had access to the database of affluent Americans. She said, “Within the magazine, Incredible India and all the other partners are reaching a circulation just short of 1 million, which translates into an audience of 5 million readers. It’s a very well traveled, affluent readership.”
“We run special advertising sections for this audience, we then take this section, reprint them and mail them to card members who are not Travel& Leisure subscribers but who look like them in terms of their spending powers,” she said.
MCGowan informed that between 2003 and 2005 there had been a 52 per cent increase in Travel & Leisure subscribers/card members spend in India.
She said, “It’s a significant partnership, because of the Ministry’s commitment to Travel and Leisure, their creativity in developing something powerful and measurable has enabled the other tourism interested parties (hotels, train and tour operators) to be able to participate at very affordable rates.”
The rates for advertising in Travel & Leisure (coloured page ) is about $90,000, but a partner to Incredible India can buy a page for about $40,000. “It’s an incredible value to an advertiser who might not be able to afford the rate card, but because of this opportunity provided by Incredible India along with Travel & Leisure, the partners can get an extremely fantastic return on their investment.”
When asked about the communication plank that Travel & Leisure had adopted for Incredible India, McGowan said, “We are trying to surround most attractive and likely visitors to India in the US with material that would compel the person to book the trip.”
Along with Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Incredible India’, Travel & Leisure also has marketing partnerships for Australia and Canada, but the templates are different for these markets.
“We are incredibly proud of the partnership, really proud to do business with the partners who are incredibly committed to India. We are thrilled about the role that we have played in making India very seductive for the affluent American, the sophisticated American,” McGowan said.