"The real goal behind this is to create a destination here so
that anytime someone is going to be traveling, we serve as their
guide," said Thrillist Media Group CEO and co-founder Ben Lerer.
Former Thrillist senior editor Hayden Lynch will oversee Thrillist
Editors in each market will compile posts recommending
activities and outings for locals and visitors alike, so that a New
Yorker could read up on the citywide cronut craze and someone
planning a trip to the Big Apple could jot down Dominique Ansel Bakery as a spot
to check out while in town.
Articles on Thrillist Travel will also append a listing for
venues featured in an article listing its name, contact
information, website and a Google Map thumbnail of its
location. Clicking on the listing will direct people to a dedicated
venue page that adds images of the place and a collection of
any relevant Thrillist articles. This venue database underpins
Thrillist's aim to be a hybrid of Frommer's and Foursquare's
Explore tab editorially curated for guys.
To that end, Thrillist will roll out a new mobile experience in
the next few months "so when our guy gets off a plane in Amsterdam,
he can get a trusted recommendation of what the best five burgers
in Amsterdam are," Mr. Lerer said.
Aware of mobile's importance for digital media -- and a nod to
Facebook's newfound ability
to make it pay -- Mr. Lerer described the travel vertical as
"first and foremost mobile." Almost half of Thrillist's business is
currently mobile, including almost half of the e-commerce
transactions completed on the company's properties such as
JackThreads, he said.
Thrillist's business model relies on advertising as well as
commerce, but initially the travel vertical will emphasize the
former. "We're not going to try and go help people book hotel rooms
and take 8% [as an affiliate fee]," Mr. Lerer said. Nor will the
company return to the deals business after shuttering Thrillist
Rewards, though the Thrillist Travel features a regular deals
roundup article. Instead Thrillist will look to create content with
marketers, like a list of the best outdoor drinking locations
sponsored by a craft beer brand.
Marketers may be interested in that advertorial approach because
Thrillist tends to reach an audience difficult to access through
traditional media and dismissive of standard advertising, said
Courtney Buechert, CEO of San Francisco-based agency Eleven, whose clients include Virgin
America, Visa and Sun Valley.
One of the agency's clients, San Francisco Travel Association,
might usually advertise tourist attractions like Fisherman's Wharf
or a tour of San Francisco Bay, but on Thrillist Travel it could
hypothetically create a branded post listing "places in the Mission
[neighborhood] worth getting shot at because the food is so good,"
Mr. Buechert said.
Eventually Thrillist Travel's content could lead to commerce.
"We'll see what markets we are seeing success in content in and how
we can build commerce in those markets as well," Mr. Lerer said.
Thrillist recently added e-commerce for Australia, London and
Canada, and those markets were able to convert their readers into
shoppers that now collectively tally more than 10% of the company's
commerce business, he said.
All that expansion could weigh down Thrillist's bottom line.
However while the company will hire editors in each of the new
markets, Mr. Lerer said the 250-person company doesn't plan to open
physical offices in those cities.
Thrillist is profitable and expects to generate between $75
million and $100 million in revenue this year, Mr. Lerer said. The
company could dip into the
$13 million in funding Thrillist received in August 2012. "We
haven't spent the money raised last year," he said, adding that the
liquidity means the company could make acquisitions as needed.