Biz Buzz: Magazine publisher moves online

from: The San Luis Obispo Tribune Cover Story

Recession claims Travelhost, but its owner finds new opportunities using Twitter

The rising cost of print has pushed publisher Ferris Ferdon, of Travelhost Central Coast Magazine, to shut down operations, effective with his just printed July-August-September issue.

However, when “one door closes, another one opens,” Ferdon told The Tribune. He will continue to boost tourism business in the county, he said, through “social media marketing " on the social network Web service Twitter.

Travelhost is a glossy travel magazine enterprise that targets tourists by distributing localized food, wine and shopping information and maps to travelers staying in hotel rooms.
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Ferdon, who owned the Travelhost distributorship for the Central Coast for more than four years, believes he reached at least 75,000 tourists a month with his publication.

The magazine was placed in more than 5,500 rooms in 80 local hotels and was supported by more than 150 advertisers, he said.

After investing what he called “well over six figures” into start-up costs for the magazine, Ferdon, who was a one-person shop, was on track to make about $110,000 to $120,000 in revenue in 2009, he said.

But he said printing costs rose by 25 percent this year, and with the recession, he figured it would take him more than 10 years to start showing a profit, and it did not make sense to continue, he said.

Instead, Ferdon has decided to partner with Dash Chang — whom he described as a computer guru educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University — with what he considers a much more “exciting” concept: Internet publications called iMagSLO and iMagPaso that are found on Twitter.

“Our iMags already reach more people hourly; deliver impressions at cost per million; and offer far more than can be delivered by ‘legacy media’ — including Web sites,” Ferdon said.

“We’ve moved past traditional Web publishing to what you might call ‘Twitter’ publishing,” Chang explained to The Tribune in a telephone interview from Palo Alto.

“The followers on Twitter become our circulation, and the tweets become the headlines that we push out to the community as they come to our Web site,” he said.

— Melanie Cleveland (article source)

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