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Northstar Travel Media aims to pump up digital operations

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Northstar Travel Media, publisher of Meetings & Conventions and Travel Weekly, announced Monday that it had named Tom Cintorino exec VP-digital media after hiring him away from PennWell Corp., where he had been senior VP-digital media.

The move underscores how important e-media has become, not only to Northstar Travel in particular but to b-to-b media companies in general. “In the current environment, if you’re a b-to-b media company, it’s a critical hire getting someone to lead in the digital space,” said Reed Phillips, managing partner of media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips. “I think it’s a good move.”

Thomas Kemp, who became CEO of Northstar earlier this year, said Cintorino will be charged with growing the company’s digital revenue and initiatives. “We’re really looking to build on next-generation product offerings for our customers that go beyond the traditional display advertising on Web sites and sponsored e-newsletters and webcasts to really become more involved in developing marketing services for our customers,” Kemp said. “We’re in the process of developing and rolling out rich media and lead-generation products, microsites, custom digital programs and building Web sites [for our customers].”

“This is a smart move by Tom Kemp, and his timing is spot on,” said Richard Mead, managing director of media investment bank Jordan, Edmiston Group. “Tom Kemp has reviewed the business since taking charge earlier this year. He has a solid base of great brands to work with and is now looking to develop the online and events aspects as quickly as he can. Having an experienced online operator like Tom Cintorino on the team will add greatly to the depth of the management team.”

Cintorino’s position at Northstar is a newly created one. Lester Kraft, senior director-e-media, will now report to Cintorino and focus on Northstar’s database products, Kemp said. Northstar currently generates about 5% of its overall revenue from database products and another 18% from digital marketing products, meaning that 23% of its revenue stems from digital sources.

During his 10 years at PennWell, Cintorino helped develop PennEnergy as well as other digital initiatives. Prior to joining PennWell, he had sales and marketing experience with technology startups. “He has a nice combination of understanding the sales process, understanding contact with the customer, as well as the strong technology background,” Kemp said.

Cintorino spoke with Media Business Monday during his first day on the job. “Well, I was able to log on to my computer, and I know my phone extension now,” he joked.

He said his first steps will be to talk to the managers and employees at Northstar to get a more complete understanding of the company. “My first job is to digest everything that’s going on today at Northstar Travel Media,” he said.

At first glance, he believes there are likely opportunities for smaller digital products aimed at slices of Northstar’s audience. He also understands what he was brought into the company to do. “The end result,” he said, “has to be increased revenue, increased profit.”

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