Today, Hearst Magazines and Airbnb will officially unveil the premiere issue of Airbnbmag. The new magazine, hitting US newsstands nationwide, offers an insider’s view of global destinations echoing the spirit and reach of Airbnb. Airbnbmag opens the door for readers to be travellers, not simply tourists, in destinations around the world.
Hearst Magazines chief content officer Joanna Coles shares her goals for the new venture with Carleigh Stiehm for Hearst.com. The article is reproduced here with Hearst’s permission.
Above: Joanna Coles, chief content officer, Hearst
How did the idea for a collaboration between Hearst Magazines and Airbnb first come about?
Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO and head of community, and I hatched the idea over a meeting more than two years ago. In looking at the existing travel magazines at the time, we noticed most had no people in them, which felt strange since the real magic of travel comes from meeting and connecting with people. So we set out to create something that would fill that void in travel media.
Why was it important for Hearst to partner with Airbnb specifically rather than produce a general travel-oriented magazine?
Airbnb is a travel disrupter, and with Airbnbmag, we will disrupt the travel-magazine category with a publication unlike any other on newsstands today. By partnering with Airbnb, we are able to serve their global community and provide readers with the most inspiring and most real-life travel stories, experiences and tips. The world of travel has changed. Technology has changed. People’s needs have changed. There is a new travel consumer whose needs and interests weren’t being served in the current media landscape.
What sorts of content should readers expect from the new magazine?
This is a magazine that celebrates the human element of travel. People are hungry for perspective on places from the locals who live there. They want stories that explore the culture of places, not just the scenic views, although we’ll certainly feature those, too. There are four feature sections that anchor Airbnbmag: “The Local,” an insider’s look at how to eat, play and shop around the world; “Stay,” featuring Airbnb properties, tips and hacks for making anywhere feel like home; “Roam,” destinations and stories to help readers dream up their next journey; and “Belong,” spotlighting true-life adventures. A column called “Not Yet Trending” profiles a location that has not yet landed on the map as a mainstream travel locale.
We have a great group of contributors in our pilot issue, including Mark Bittman, former New York Times columnist and author of How to Cook Everything, on the kitchen essentials to pack for an Airbnb experience; Chip Conley, Burning Man board member, on the best summer festivals around the world; and Jeff Wilser, author of Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life, on Hamilton’s haunts in New York City. Astronaut Mark Kelly and Elon Musk, founder of Space X and Tesla, discuss space travel, and Issa Rae, star of HBO’s Insecure, talks travel inspiration.
Where in the world will the premiere issue of Airbnbmag take its readers? Can you describe a little bit about the process of deciding which destinations to feature and how to find writers for each location?
The Airbnb community is uniquely positioned to guide our content. Their hosts have been sharing their homes and neighbourhoods with travellers for years, and their insight into great places to live—and visit—is something special. Airbnbmag will transport readers to places near and far, from Detroit, the coolest city in the U.S., to Porvoo, Finland. Destinations in the pilot issue also include Australia, Bali, Cuba, London, Malibu and Savannah.
In addition to the print product, will there be a digital component to Airbnbmag?
Digital editions will be available in Apple, Nook, Amazon and other digital storefronts. The pilot issue will be available digitally in early June, about two weeks after the print edition hits newsstands on May 23.
How do you define the ideal Airbnbmag reader? Do you imagine them subscribing to the magazine or stumbling upon it when they stay at Airbnb properties?
The Airbnbmag reader is anyone who wants to learn about unique and beautiful places around the world. There are more than one million people staying in Airbnb homes each night in 191 countries. This magazine is for those travelers and many others like them who want to see the world in a fresh and unique way. I envision readers not only picking this up on the newsstand and subscribing, but sharing it with friends, fellow travellers and guests in their homes. It’s something that people can hold in their hands, pack in their bags and talk about with people they meet.
With so much innovation and development going on in the travel industry right now, why was this the right time to start a new magazine with Airbnb?
It’s the perfect time to launch Airbnbmag because it gives modern travellers something they’ve been wanting but haven’t been able to find. With the changes that have happened in travel – for example, we can now book entire trips with a few taps on our mobile devices – we’re bringing readers a magazine that fits into the way they want to experience the world today.
Can you talk a little bit about what role Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky is playing in the production of the magazine and the content stream?
Brian has been involved in the project from the beginning. He wrote a welcome letter to readers in the pilot issue, and I am in near-constant communication with him. It’s a truly bi-coastal operation and collaborative effort between Hearst Magazines and Airbnb. We are both involved in all aspects of producing the magazine.
One aspect of Airbnb that differentiates it from other vacation and travel companies is the community aspect to staying in another person’s home. How do you feel that this philosophy of personal connections translates to the world of magazines and media?
Interpersonal connections are a huge part of travelling, especially for the Airbnb community, and celebrating that is at the core of our mission. With the rise of social media and expansion of global businesses, the world is more interconnected than ever, and people are more curious than ever to explore it. We wanted to create a magazine that would recognise that and suit the modern travel lifestyle.
What do you hope that readers take away from every edition of Airbnbmag?
I am hoping readers come away inspired, with new information and ideas about visiting locations around the world. I hope they have a newly invigorated motivation and courage to chase their travel dreams and make many new friends around the world. As we say on the cover, “Be at Home in the World.” That’s the goal.
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