Travel finds its feet

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After several weeks of paralysis following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the travel industry is cranking up promotions to stimulate bookings and reassure travelers.

Travel magazines, one of publishing's hardest-hit sectors, said advertisers are going ahead with 2002 plans-but with a heavy emphasis on events, short-term promotions and deals. "Advertisers are looking for tactical programs and promotions that will drive readers to Web sites for immediate travel deals; they want ads that combine reassurance with calls to action," said a spokesman for Conde Nast Traveler.

Although overall ad sales remain sluggish, travel magazines said there is a bright spot in that attendance at events for readers and advertisers is at an all-time high. World Publications' Saveur, which has a high proportion of travel advertisers, sold out its $95-a-ticket Passport event Nov. 2 at Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, with more than 700 attending. American Express Publishing Corp.'s second annual Food & Wine Entertaining Showcase this week in Chicago is expecting a record crowd; backers include KitchenAid, General Motors Corp. and Villeroy & Boch.

Sibling magazine Travel & Leisure is getting capacity audiences at a special series of invitation-only "Market Watch" events, created since Sept. 11 for travel-industry executives and advertisers to review travel trends. Events were held in New York on Oct. 4 and in Los Angeles on Oct. 31. The next one is slated for Dec. 6 in Miami. "There was a stunned period immediately after the attacks, but now advertisers are coming back in a big way, and they're asking for our ideas and input," said Ellen Asimodeo, Travel & Leisure's VP-publisher.

As a result of the slowdown following the terrorism, Hachette Filipacchi's Travel Holiday on Dec. 1 launches Travel Holiday Vacations (travelholidayvactions.com), a Web site where readers can get information about immediate deals and sales on travel packages, said Publisher Jeff Foley. The site will allow direct transactions of travel packages and will include email alerts of last-minute deals and discounts. "This is a direction we were going to go, but the terrorist attacks sped up our plans," he said.

Travel & Leisure is also pushing more deals, and has added a listing of discount travel "Insider Deals" for the January issue, said Ms. Asimodeo. "Travel advertisers are finding their footing again, and we're going to see more online promotions and events as part of advertising packages," she said.

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