The May 2015 cover of Travel + Leisure
The May 2015 cover of Travel + Leisure

“I'm not a fan of the lonely woman,” said Nathan Lump, sitting in a conference room in the Time-Life Building in midtown Manhattan last week. He was giving Travel Weekly a preview of the newly redesigned Travel + Leisure print edition and TravelandLeisure.com.

The travel magazine with a solo woman on the cover “is a common trope I’d like to avoid. What I’m trying to do is capture a spirit and mood, and have covers that feel alive.”

The cover of the May 2015 issue has two women on Paris’ Pont Alexandre III rather than one, but to his point, they do look like they’re enjoying themselves. Very much by design, the two women, Marieke Gruyaert and model Jeanne Damas, are best friends, and are also in an editorial fashion feature within.

Starting today, readers of Travel + Leisure will receive the print publication and can visit its website as reimagined by Lump, who was appointed editor last August.

“I’m trying to capture a certain kind of energy, liveliness, fun and joy. Rather than a very composed and structured cover, I prefer both imagery and type treatments that have more energy, that crackle with life and [project] what places feel like.”

New layouts, sections and columns, tweaks (and name changes) for some existing departments, different approaches to long-form “well” stories (including nontraditional choices for writers and photographers) and fonts that are, for now, unique to T+L are among the changes.

Unlike Conde Nast Traveler, whose evolving redesign most recently included a new logo, the existing Travel + Leisure logo will stay intact.

Advertisers have responded well to the new concepts, said publisher Jay Meyer, sitting across the table from Lump. He said it is the thickest May issue since 2008, and at 200 pages, is 15% bigger than May 2014.

Lump leafed through the publication, giving a tour of the format changes. “We’ve introduced a new section, ‘Beyond,’ to bring storytelling to the front of the book. ‘Radar’ becomes ‘Here and Now.’ Previously, ‘Trip Doctor’ followed; you didn’t get storytelling until you got to the well.”

Lump said the brand is experimenting with storytelling as never before, including in departments and columns. In a feature called “Takeaway,” writers tell stories through things they acquired on a trip.

Content previously found in “Trip Doctor” will now be found in “Upgrade,” but with a twist in perspective. “’Trip Doctor’ suggested something needed to be fixed rather than that something already good can be made better,” Lump said. “We’ll use the tag ‘travel smarter’ with it.”

In the relaunched T+L, full fashion shoots will make a comeback in travel titles, he said. “Not every month, but there will always be some style pages that showcase great fashion items. Fashion has a role to play in helping you see destinations in a new way and evoking the spirit of a place.”

An “address book” of the shoot locales will be included.

What was once in reader service boxes embedded in articles will now be aggregated in “The Details,” toward the back of the publication.

Additional sections are also being introduced; some will be monthly, some will appear at intervals.

The book will always close with “Wish You Were Here,” the reproduction of a postcard sent by “notable people and friends of the brand,” Lump said. In the May issue, it comes from London, sent by New York-based jewelry designer Eddie Borgo.

Changes to TravelandLeisure.com, whose soft launch commenced this week, present a more radical change in design and content than are seen in the print relaunch, and also more overtly reflect shifts in media across brands in every vertical.

The new format “will allow us to adopt a high velocity publishing model, which is a fancy way of saying we will publish a lot more content online,” Lump said.

It was important to him, Lump continued, to relaunch print and online simultaneously. “You need to conceive the products holistically,” he said.

The dual relaunch reflects an internal reorganization which began shortly after Lump arrived. The staff and web teams have been integrated — “we no longer have anyone working exclusively on print,” he said — and he added that the new print edition and website were guided by understanding what print, the web and social media do well. All platforms, he said, will “add up to a modern idea of what a media brand is.”

Website channels will be thematic as well as geographic, and the homepage above-the-fold showcases dramatic imagery over type. 

Among the biggest changes in content strategy will be to go from about a dozen new website posts per week to more than 20 per day. That will be accomplished, in part, by building a global network of correspondents.

“Contributing networks are very much in fashion,” Lump said. “One key difference is that all of our people will be paid. We have a sophisticated audience, and the types of people who can bring the expertise they need are the kinds of people who require payment for their work. They’re professionals.”

The new responsive design has been conceived with “2015 ad viewability” in mind, he added, “and we will do many more releases that include new bells and whistles and features that will push the envelope, from a functionality perspective.”

The site will remain in “preview mode” until April 15, at which time the site will officially launch and advertisements will go live.

The beta version shown to Travel Weekly included many holding places for ads, and Lump said that “any slots can be changed out for native [advertising] placement.”

“Jay and I have lots of ambition regarding video and commerce events,” he said. Interactive destination guides will come a bit later, he added, saying there will be a series of releases over the next four weeks.

Lump acknowledges that the new site benefits from work originally done by other Time Inc. titles. “We definitely draft off some of the development work and learnings” at other brands, he said.

And Meyer further credits the 2013 ownership change from American Express to Time Inc. with the ability to fund significant redesigns.

“We were small in the Amex world. We couldn’t affect the stock price. Travel wasn’t at the core of Time Inc., but now it is. They gave Nathan the resources and support he needed to reinvent Travel + Leisure.”

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