The middle of a pandemic may seem like an odd time to launch a travel-themed business. But don’t tell that to the co-founders of a new online club focused on family travel.
Sara Clemence and Ryan Sager believe the crisis has intensified many parents’ desires for travel. Stay-at-home restrictions have fueled interest in planning vacations for a time when societies will have tamed the pandemic. So Clemence and Sager have launched The Expedition, a family travel content site and social network of sorts.
“There’s been this movement away from one central social firehouse to much more specialized forms of social engagement,” Sager said. “Subscription and community are among the two most promising places to be in media right now.”
APPLYING A MEDIA MODEL TO FAMILY TRAVEL
The co-founders said that their media backgrounds would help them kickstart this project. Clemence, former travel editor for the Wall Street Journal and Travel and Leisure, and Sager, a former editor at the Wall Street Journal and Time, said they would use their journalistic instincts to shine spotlights on community members with genuine insights.
The formats are in flux. But the general idea is that there will be threads of conversation, such as “first flight since coronavirus” or “LGBT+ parents.” Hosts with relevant expertise will help lead each thread, such as by offering journalistic-like summaries of practical advice or providing first-person accounts of inspiration. Conversations will build off that, and hosts will find ways to bring to the surface and shine a spotlight on content that’s worthwhile and relevant to users.
JOURNALISTS AS FOUNDERS
Clemence and Sager are following a path blazed by other journalists who have started travel businesses. One example is Ralph Bartel, a print and TV journalist who launched deals site Travelzoo in 2000. Another is Robert Niles, who left traditional journalism to run Theme Park Insider, which has had a nearly two-decade run. George Hobica left travel writing to create Airfarewatchog, a fare-watching service that Tripadvisor later bought and sold. Darren Burn jumped from being an ITV broadcast news reporter to creating Out of Office and other LGBT+ travel brands.
But the founders of The Expedition believe they can take advantage of new opportunities that weren’t available in the past thanks to changed consumer expectations and technology.
“In the online world, community is premium and connection is premium, meaning they’re something people will pay for,” Sager said. “People want a membership to something that speaks to their identity. The opportunities are amazing.”
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