Huffington Post Launches Travel Section
In saying that some of her happiest moments as well her most "enriching and enlightening moments have come through travel," Arianna Huffington editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, announced late last week that the Huffington Post launched a new travel section, HuffPost Travel. The new online feature will be headed up by Kate Auletta, daughter of well-known New Yorker writer and author, Ken Auletta.
The site is good, as far as it goes. It's full of vivid images and boasts a good mix of content ranging from "Best Nude Beaches," to articles on being a vegetarian in Germany, to "A Guide to Eating, Living and Shopping in Italy."
However, all the content is apparently aggregated from other sources, many of them text heavy and word dense, leaving me with the feeling that the section lacks originality, focus and any sense of "voice."
But it's early days.
Still, Huffington's promises that the new travel section will be a "one stop shop" offering travel news, tips and advice, deals, reviews, blogs and photographs, may be the problem.
If, as she says, she wants the new travel section to cover all aspects of travel from 'the glorious to the maddening," then it could be difficult to establish a reliable focus.
HuffPost has increasingly been moving closer and closer to becoming an internet newspaper with its own journalists carrying out their own assignments — so adding travel is in keeping with HuffPost's trend in adding other sections like food (always very popular), the arts, and media.
Since travel is considered by many, a necessity not a luxury, and the travel industry spends billions in advertising, the move to a travel section is, from an advertising point of view, a good one. A 2008 Nielsen Wire report placed spending by the industry at $3.9 billion dollars, with 11.4% of ad dollars in travel spent on line, according to the financial site MileStone.
One travel writer writing on a professional site said HuffPost Travel is yet again another example of how user-generated content and aggregators are draining readers and profits from newspaper travel sections.
However, HuffPost has done a good job in leveraging the opportunities offered by social media. They launched an 'all Twitter version' of its site in April, so as part of their larger convergence strategy, their travel section may just work.
Editor Kate Auletta says she's interested in talking to travel bloggers, photographers and writers interested in contributing to HuffPost's Travel.