“Budget” is a bad word for advertisers

I reported a while back that the magazine Budget Living had folded. I noted that this probably had something to do with the fact that advertisers want to reach the aspirational, free-spending, debt-to-their-eyeballs folks, not people who are careful with their money.

Sure enough, here’s a quote from the old Budget Living editor, from a panel discussion reported in Folio (link above).

“The name ‘budget’ worked great with readers,” he said, “but it was a hurdle for advertisers. The name was a mixed blessing.”

So there you go. If you’re looking for articles about traveling on a frugal budget, pickings are slim. It’s not because of a lack of readers: after all, most people aren’t jetting off to five-star resorts when they go on vacation. But the advertisers don’t want to reach the commoners among us. They want to reach the ones who look at travel choices as just another way to show off their wealth.

If you want to read more down-to-earth stories and advice, here are some good links:
Sensible travel magazines
Budget Travel web sites

  1. Ron Mader

    We have added a link from our headlines page to this feature.

    Do you have any ideas about how to improve the ‘prestige’ of budget travel? Particularly in rural areas in the developing world, developing budget travel is a better alternative than seeing the population migrate to a city or different country in search of employment.

  2. Tim L.

    I would love to see a good answer to this dilemma, but I don’t think there’s an easy one. Adventure tour companies can help, by continuing to push authentic experience over fake ethnic luxury, but really there’s just no money in it. Magazines need advertisers to survive, even shoestring web sites need advertisers to survive. Budget guesthouses and modest local tour companies can’t afford it. So nearly every travel magazine goes after the upscale, short-vacation crowd. I’m not sure “prestige” and “budget travel” can ever go hand-in-hand. By it’s very nature, budget travel implies a shunning of prestige and forgetting what the people back home think.

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