Magazine veteran S. Christopher Meigher III has an ambitious place-based media venture on tap.
Meigher, chairman-CEO of Quest Media, which distributes local service magazines to hotels in New York and elsewhere, has signed on to an additional role as president and publisher of Wilton Publishing. He and John Capozzi, chairman of Wilton, are teaming with hotel chain Marriott and nearly 70 leading consumer magazines to produce Marriott Insights.
Insights is a monthly magazine that is a compilation of articles from such consumer titles as Forbes, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. It is aimed at business travelers and will be distributed nationally in Marriott’s 300,000-plus hotel rooms. Content partners include Time Inc., where Meigher was once a top executive.
Benefits for all
Meigher and Capozzi see Insights as a three-pronged marketing tool with benefits for magazine publishers, advertisers and hotel chains. From Wilton’s vantage, it is a vehicle to sell advertising aimed at upscale business travelers. For publishers, it is a content-sampling and subscription-marketing vehicle. And for Marriott, it’s an extra guest perk, along with morning newspapers and nighttime-turndown service.
"Insights targets the highest possible demographic. It will have an exceptional readership," Capozzi said. "We are using the best articles from the best magazines [and] it will probably have the highest pass-along readership of any magazine ever created."
While the Wilton executives have grand plans for Insights, their partners’ goals are more modest.
A Marriott spokesman said the company investigated an in-room magazine for about a year, and that Insights "tested well, and had a strong appeal." He added: "This is an additional amenity."
A Time Inc. spokesman said the publishing giant doesn’t see the magazine as a substantial source of subscriptions. "It’s basically a simple content deal," he said.
Insights will launch in February with an initial distribution of about 1 million. Launch advertisers include American Airlines and Pepsi-Cola Co.
The venture is the first major project from Wilton Publishing, which counts former Time Inc. Chairman Richard Munro and former American Airlines Chairman Robert Crandall as investors and board members.
Looking to stand out
The magazine comes as Marriott, like most of the travel industry, feels the pinch of an economic slowdown. The hotel is looking to differentiate itself in a category engaged in price wars to lure the dwindling ranks of business travelers.
Meigher believes Insights will appeal to weary executives during rare moments of downtime, say, after 10 p.m., when they’re too beat to work, bored with in-room cable TV, Web and pay-per-view options and scrounging around an unfamiliar hotel room for something besides the Bible to peruse.
Marriott ensures in-room placement of the magazine, and the chain will get an unspecified cut of Insight’s ad revenue once certain goals are met.
Titles that will provide full-length articles include those in Time Inc.’s portfolio, Forbes, Advance Publications’ Golf Digest and fitness titles produced by Weider Publications. Arrangements with each magazine vary; Time Inc. titles will be paid for reprint rights, Golf Digest will not.
A color ad page sells for $55,000—a low cost per thousand for the demographics of the audience Wilton claims Insights will attract. Research projects a 70% male readership, predominately business-professional, 41 years old with a household income of more than $90,000.
Meigher, a circulation expert who was involved with Time Inc.’s now-defunct subscription peddler American Family Publishers, sees enormous potential for the magazine as a subscription source for partner titles.
"There’ll be a bingo card in every magazine," he said, for readers to order subscriptions. "An instant transaction."
An agreement is already in place for Wilton to produce a second version of Insights for Hilton Hotels Corp. that will launch in a year.
Media buyers said they like Insights’ low rates and captive audience, but are less certain of the overall appeal of such a magazine. "Everyone’s looking for new ways to do print media," said John Frierson, president of Frierson, Mee & Partners, New York. "This one makes a little bit of sense."
Jon Fine is a reporter for BtoB sister publication Advertising Age.