Publishers of Travel + Leisure, a US travel magazine, has launched a Chinese-language version of the glossy high-end monthly as it seeks to grow readership in what it calls the "next frontier for the luxury market".
American Express Publishing has licensed the T+L brand to a local Chinese publisher and has planned to distribute 100,000 copies of its October issue in Beijing, Shanghai and other major mainland cities. T+L plans eventually to have 15-20 overseas editions as it expands into international markets that have burgeoning "aspirational" consumer appetite.
T+L has in the past three years launched editions in Russia, Turkey, Latin America and Australia. AmEx is betting that advertising from luxury retailers for T+L China will explode in coming years as Chinese tastes grow more sophisticated and worldly. "We speak the universal language of luxury in our international editions," said Nancy Novogrod, editor-in-chief of T+L US.
There are only a handful of upmarket Chinese-language travel magazines on the mainland, and AmEx hopes that the relatively inexpensive ad prices will appeal to companies. A full-page in T+L China costs roughly $8,000 compared with about $87,000 in the US edition.
The number of travellers from China has been growing steadily as the government loosens travel restrictions. The World Tourism Organisation projects China will be the fourth-largest source of international travelers by 2020 with 100m outbound travellers. It recently granted 'approved destination status' to more than two dozen European countries, allowing tour operators to send groups from China to places like France, Italy and the UK. Most travel to the US from mainland China is by business travellers and students.
Leisure travel to the US is still tightly controlled, but publishers of T+L are getting ready for the day when Chinese leisure travellers will arrive in the US en masse by plugging its brand early in the nascent market. "We're in this for the long-term," said Mark Stanich, chief marketing officer of AmEx Publishing. "We want to build a franchise." Mr Stanich added that newly affluent consumers were hungry for "cars, gadgets and travel". Advertisers in the inaugural issue of T+L China reflect those tastes. They include luxury hotelier Four Seasons, consumer electronics maker Samsung and Beringer Blass, the wine company.