Robert Gallagher’s Adventures Group Holdings this week takes control of a handful of brands it has cherry-picked from Bauer’s Trader Media. There are not many people actively looking to invest in magazines. For those that do, including German-owned Sydney-based Nextmedia which continues to expand, the rewards can be worthwhile.
Gallagher most recently was general manager Adventures for Bauer Xcel Media, which collected the travel and tourism sector brands within the group. He joined Bauer just over four years ago to set up the Turu business which is an online holiday park booking system. Prior to that Gallagher worked in wagering with Tote Tasmania before it was acquired by the Tatts Group.
The list of assets involved in his management buyout comprises Caravan World, Camper Trailer, Motorhome and Caravan Trader and Adventures magazines. The group also takes the digital assets for those properties plus Travelin and Turu.
As to why anybody would jump into magazine publishing in the current climate, Gallagher told Mediaweek: “Rather than seeing ourselves as a magazine publisher, we prefer to call it a content marketing business where one of the things we do is publish magazines.
“Caravan World has been very strong in terms of print circulation year-on-year and it has a good place in the market as a much-trusted brand. Our model is quite different from other publishers in the way we are structured. We really plug into the market and help them sell their product.”
Office space isn’t an immediate concern with the new group leasing existing space from Bauer for six months. As to the size of the new business, Gallagher said: “We have 22 staff coming across from Bauer. We have also brought in some consultants to help us on the content and marketing sides of the business.”
The new content director for Adventures Group is Travis Godfredson from Moby Dick content agency. “He will head our content team, align our strategy both internal and external. Godfredson was also a previous Bauer research director for the men’s and specialist division in Sydney.”
Global Loyalty has been engaged to advise on marketing strategy. “Sarah Richardson heads up that business and they will look at end to end communications across all facets of the business – all the way from subscriptions to online communications.” Prior to starting her own business, Richardson worked for over a decade for Telstra, Suncorp, SapientNitro and Myer.
Adventures Group Holdings will operate its own sales team where it plans business as usual, but making sure it maximises its position in the market, where Gallagher said it is well respected and trusted. Gallagher will look after the sales and partnership team. The publisher has a full-time sales force operating along the east coast while it will be engaging sales representation for South Australia and West Australia in addition to servicing them from the Melbourne head office.
Although Bauer Trader Media has a comprehensive client list for the existing titles, Gallagher noted he has been very pleased with market feedback after the news broke last month about the new ownership structure. “People who haven’t been traditional advertisers have approached us off the back of the announcement keen to have a deeper conversation. We are looking at partnerships in a range of categories that allow us to work with their business.
As to the biggest challenge facing the new team, Gallagher said he thought it could be staying focused. “There is lots of opportunity in the business, which is why we have done what we have done. We see good upside and we have lots of strong relationships in the market.
“The traditional models are being disrupted, but the way we engage with our partners and clients isn’t traditional so we are quite comfortable where we sit in the market. The domestic travel market is growing and the caravan market is growing so there are good market conditions to support what we are doing. We just have to be smart about the way we manage things.
“It will be crucial we maintain our editorial integrity and credibility, the way we operate our content brands and the way we start to provide content solutions for clients.”
Gallagher emphasised their editorial independence is their USP.
Almost 50% of Adventures Group’s business initially will be online, prompting Gallagher to suggest they already transitioned perhaps faster than some other categories have. “We still see print as an important part of our business. We are doing a range of custom publishing projects for clients – some of them are digital and some of them are print, based on the clients’ needs.”
Although they don’t have control yet, we felt obliged to ask what the first significant change will be when Adventures Group Holdings gets the keys on December 1. Answer: they are not sure yet.
“We have our first board meeting shortly. We will focus on running the existing business, which is the reason we have acquired it. The core business is sound. As we flesh out the strategy there will be opportunities that will come up that we will certainly look at.”
The business works hard all year round, the seasons perhaps helping keep it active across all months. “In spring and summer the southern states are very busy, but in the middle of the year it is the peak season for northern Australia travel. People are engaging in this market year-round.”
Gallagher didn’t mention grey nomads until close to the end of the interview, but when you talk about the size of the population moving into that demographic it is a term we will hear a lot more of. “Self-drive tourism is a big part of what that ageing population is interested in doing. But we also have some younger demographics too engaging with our brands.”