11 November 2008

Seeking Experience

The Lifestyle Beat Editorial Mission
from The Smart Set From Drexel University

The slippery notion of authenticity — The Authentic Experience — is something that people in lifestyle journalism endlessly wring their hands over.

Just pick up any magazine on food or travel and you’ll find alliterative boasts of authenticity on the cover: “Insider’s Istanbul”; “In Search of the Real Romania”; “The True Taste of Tashkent.” The message seems clear: If you’re not traveling to see our “hidden gems” or dining on our “local secrets,” well, you’re hopeless. Worse than hopeless. You’re a tourist.

Travel Weekly, the national newspaper of the travel industry, hosted a round-table discussion a couple of years ago and invited top editors from seven of the nation’s leading travel publications. They gathered in the Ed Sullivan Room at the Friar’s Club in New York and discussed a variety of pressing issues, such as: “What are the ingredients that create buzz for a destination?”

The issue of authentic travel experience was quickly raised. The editor-in-chief of one of the nation’s largest travel magazines explained: “That new adventure traveler is the person who wants to fly to India first class or business class. They want to stay in a great hotel. Then they want to be taken to a small village where they meet the rug dealer. Then they want to buy the rug. But the thing is, they want the genuine, authentic experience, and they’re willing to pay to get there.”

“That doesn’t sound authentic at all, to have someone take you to a rug dealer,” said the editor of a more budget-conscious magazine.

“I don’t agree,” the first editor persisted. “You can go there and find someone who can take you into the mountains. I have a story in the works on just this thing. They will take you to the guy who will sell you the rug. And it is real, and when they return, it is what they’re going to talk about when people come over for dinner.” read more . . .

COMMENT: What's the difference between being a traveller and a tourist?

1 comment:

jane said...

Hmmm . . . good question. I would say that the traveller is on the journey, while the tourist is at the destination. Anyone else got ideas?