This time last year I was as flat out as a lizard drinking, helping effect the buyback of Time Out Australia (previously a franchise) by Time Out Group, a process that completed in June 2017.
Twelve months on I am asked often by those closest to our business how the transition has gone. What differences have we experienced?
Let me deal with the nasties first. We’ve had a bunch of back-of-office shit to deal with, including the integration of accounting systems, reporting functions, a long list of HR issues, and more. Reporting into New York and London time zones – while a constant reminder that we are part of a larger family – also takes a bit of getting used to. And to some degree with tech now offshore, we have sacrificed some of our local market flexibility when it comes to product.
But all of that fades into the background when I reflect on the upside that we are experiencing – and will continue to experience – as we enter our second decade of publishing locally, and the brand celebrates its 50th anniversary globally.
With significant investment in digital technology and product, we are witnessing 39% YoY global audience growth (and that’s consistent with local escalation). But what is more exciting is the investment the brand continues to make in the real world. In bricks and mortar, and in print.
When we launched Time Out in Australia in 2007, we thought long and hard about the name to give our holding company. At that time the media debate was whether digital would be the death knell for print and there were those who argued to dispense with it altogether (and some still argue that logic). We named the company Print and Digital Publishing Pty Ltd because we didn’t see our proposition as an either/or equation.
We still don’t.
Video didn’t kill radio. Facebook didn’t kill email. eBay didn’t kill the mall. Netflix didn’t kill TV. The advent of new media simply results in a rebalancing of how folks spend their time (which is the one thing that no one has yet found a way to invent).
This thinking, combined with a deep understanding of the Time Out mission – to inspire our audiences to lead a richer life, to know their city, and to have more fun – means the Time Out business globally thinks and acts differently to traditional media houses.
Three recent and significant manifestations include:
1. Time Out Market in New York
Located in Brooklyn’s increasingly popular Dumbo neighbourhood, Time Out Market New York is expected to open in Q4 2018. The market will bring the best of the city together under one roof: its best restaurants, bars and cultural experiences, all under Time Out’s editorial curation. The first Time Out Market opened in 2014 in Lisbon and saw 3.6 million visitors in 2017. Additional plans are on track for new markets in Miami in Q4 2018 and in Chicago and Boston in 2019. Follow the progress of Time Out Markets at timeoutmarket.com.
2. The [re]growth of print
Meanwhile, a little closer to home ... Following the successful relaunch of the English language Time Out Hong Kong magazine and the launch of its traditional Chinese website last year, Time Out Hong Kong’s first Chinese language print publication hit the city’s streets this month. With a quarterly circulation of 150,000 copies, the new edition is aimed at locals and visitors to help them experience Hong Kong.
This development is consistent with our own print strategy locally. And with ever increasing global mobility, and Australia a key visitor destination for outbound Chinese, this investment by Time Out in Hong Kong will have knock-on benefits for us downunder. Tim Webb, MD Asia of Time Out Digital, said:
“The new title complements the existing digital platforms, social media and English language Time Out Hong Kong magazine and will offer our advertisers further opportunities to reach an engaged, experience-hungry audience, of which 95% go out and do something after engaging with Time Out.”
3. Investment in new local office
And closer to home still, we recently moved our Melbourne team into a new home on Lonsdale Street, right in the heart of the CBD. A 1937 Art Deco building, Mitchell House was once home to a brush manufacturing company - brushes that no doubt ended up in the hands of painters who beautified the city, and artists who told stories through paintings they created.
In turn, inspired by the bells of the passing trams below and the view down to Flinders Street Station and, our editors will use keystrokes instead of brushstrokes to paint a picture of the city which inspires our audience to get out of the house and make the most of it.
We look forward to welcoming you to our new office soon.