Joanna Hunkin explains how Gourmet Traveler bounced back from covid
Covid has affected almost every business on the planet in one way or another, but for foodie travelerthe two things they focus on most – restaurants and travel – were the first things to go out the window.
As the world reopened, the legacy title rebounded.
Media Week spoke to foodie traveler editor Joanna Hunkin about making a comeback after covid and what lies ahead.
“I used to call it the sacred trifecta“, says Hunkin. “You are already in publishing, then you publish a travel and restaurant magazine. It was not a good time.
Navigating the closures and restrictions hasn’t been easy, and Hunkin says that for every success, there was also something that didn’t quite go to plan.
“We held the Restaurant Awards as planned in October which was a really weird time for everyone as we were going to print when everyone was locked down and the restaurants were not open.
“We worked with this blind faith that I hoped things would be better by then – and they were! It was very fortuitous and without any skill that the November issue which had the Restaurant Awards winners went on sale the day Melbourne came out of lockdown.
“You could say that we also had terrible timing. Last year we published an issue with a great Queenstown travel feature, and it came out the day New Zealand closed its borders with Australia. You gain some, you lose some!”
Fortunately, after a few difficult years, foodie traveler is about to come back stronger than ever.
“We definitely started to see very strong signs of recovery last year, but it wasn’t really until the end of 2021 that we really realized how much foodie traveler had been doing throughout 2021,” says Hunkin.
“We greatly exceeded our targets, we generated very strong EBITDA, and I think that surprised us all a little bit.
“You don’t necessarily notice it day to day when you’re just trying to solve all the headaches, but when we got to the end of last year we realized what a fantastic position we were in for 2022. just continued that momentum.”
In a first for foodie traveler, the May issue saw four restaurants create a personalized paired playlist, which readers can access via a QR code. Hunkin says the multi-sensory experience was born after noticing a growing trend.
“The entire issue explores different elements of culture. There are plenty of new venues that really emphasize the music and make it as much a feature of the dining experience as the food or the wine..
“One of our team members had a fantastic idea: instead of just talking about these places and sharing the recipes, why not ask them to create a playlist? So we did that, then we uploaded that to Spotify and we created QR codes. Now when you hit the snag, you can choose your recipe, eat the food, listen to the music, and create some of that buzz for yourself at home.
As more and more people consider traveling for the first time in a long time, foodie traveler saw an increase in the number of advertisers.
“We are seeing a lot of interest from the travel industry, especially cruises. A lot of luxury trips are very long, because people spending $30,000 on a trip probably won’t do it two weeks in advance.
“Now is the time for a lot of these customers to come in front of people and present their offer. Even if you have people who aren’t ready to travel this year, they probably think next year might be the year to go..
2022 brands Gourmet Traveler 55th anniversary, and while many details are under wraps at this time, Hunkin says there’s a lot of exciting things planned for the rest of the year.
“For us, the big milestone is the Restaurant Awards, and this year – everything is going according to plan – we will actually be able to do the awards in person and we won’t have to reschedule five times! This will happen at the end of September and we are working on it right now.
“We also have some exciting brand collaborations, we are exploring a few opportunities around certain branded products. There will also be festive outings, which is very exciting.
“We hope to have some really cool stuff available for our readers and the general public to purchase later this year.