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- 8 Mar 2010

360 Degree Networking

Social media is often blamed for making our relationships more impersonal. New York-based Douglas Gollan, president and chief editor of Elite Traveler magazine, sees the flip side.


My father worked for the airlines and was later an editor of a travel magazine when I was growing up in the late 60s and 70s, so my first step into the luxury industry was flying first class to Europe and Asia on 747s back in the days when there was a private lounge upstairs and the caviar flowed freely. We also stayed at five-star hotels and travelled extensively when travel was still not something that everyone did. Aside from that, we lived a very middle class lifestyle so I had never heard of Cartier, Louis Vuitton or Patek Philippe. Dad’s suits probably cost about as much an Hermès tie.

Since finishing college, I’ve always been involved in media. I was in travel media for 14 years at the largest group of B2B travel publications and web sites in the world at that time. From there I led the launch of Elite Traveler in 2000. As a publication described as “the private jet lifestyle magazine”, one could say that this was my true entry into luxury. I started in the deep end. In retrospect, not knowing a lot about the luxury industry was actually quite helpful. It turns out that the profile of the typical private jet user is a self-made entrepreneur, often from a middle class background, so our approach is to excite them in a fun way and to exclude the intimidation factor.


I wasn’t an early adapter to social media and in truth I was probably a bit dismissive about its benefits from a business perspective at first. For me, social media is a great relationship tool. Facebook is very interesting because it gives you a more personal relationship with business contacts. You get to see that person from a 360 degree perspective from hobbies to events taking place in their personal lives. Often times you discover you have common interests outside of business, which really makes for deeper relationships. To a degree, social networks are what I call PNN, Personal News Networks. So when you are tuned into various social networks you get a stream of news about people you have some type of relationship with. It is a powerful business tool for anyone who takes advantage of it.

Luxury is a lot like travel as an industry. It’s made up of multiple separate industries and segments. But to date there hasn’t been a singular B2B news sources that covers the entire industry. From this perspective, Luxury Society has the opportunity to become an important force on a global scale. I check the news section daily. It’s a very good feed of interesting information. There is a plethora of great white papers and opinions that I like. Maybe I missed it, but it would be great to be able to have an RSS feed on live news so I could have it on my desktop.

I think the biggest future issues will be on the marketing side, including CRM. Luxury has been extremely strong on product, and the creative side with beautiful ads with image, emotion and aspiration, but has been weak on the media side where there isn’t a lot of diligence on audience. The downturn is making marketers pay a lot more attention to who is actually reading the publications they advertise in, which of course is a good thing for us.


Douglas Gollan, President and Chief Editor, Elite Traveler magazine