Each month we highlight a niche magazine that is innovative, creative, and great at serving its readers. This month’s pick: Group Tour Media’s Group Tour. Since 1987, this magazine for international tour planners has expanded its offerings and gone international by niching its niche: regional tour magazines, student tour magazines, special interest tours, and more! We caught up with Group Tour Media’s President Elly DeVries to get the story of how they built a growing and thriving niche media company by finding new markets within their existing niche:
A need to provide more and better travel information for group tour planners inspired Group Tour Media to expand its publishing business. That was in 1987.
When Elly DeVries purchased the 33-year-old company in 2007, she expanded on that idea. “We recognized that tour planning itself was becoming more and more specialized. More niche driven, even six years ago,” DeVries said from her company’s headquarters in Holland, Michigan.
“We began with state-themed magazines—like Wisconsin Group Tour and Michigan Group Tour—and they flew out of here.” On the heels of that success, Group Tour focused on developing regional products for the U.S. and Canada.
“Tour planners don’t stay in one state but branch into surrounding areas so the need for a regionally presented resource was in place and I am delighted that we anticipated that happening,” she said.
Group Tour Magazine currently publishes three editions: Western Group Tour for the western U.S. and western Canada, Southeastern (U.S.) Group Tour, and Northeastern Group Tour with sections for the northeastern and the Heartland in the U.S. and central and eastern Canada. Publications are subscription-based and delivered by post and online.
“Our online presence also delivers late-breaking news that would be of interest to people in our business,” she said. “[For example], we followed the fiscal crisis on our website because so many tour operators, suppliers and destinations were affected by it.”
In 2000, Group Tour Media (GTM) was named the 14th-fastest growing publishing company.
“We are still growing,“ DeVries says. In anticipation of increased niche interest, Group Tour added Student Group Tour Magazine in 2005. “With the growth of student travel, supplying tour planners and educators with solid yet creative ideas for student destinations and attractions was a logical step,” she said.
Most recently GTM launched a custom publications department that specializes in niche travel themes or common interest group travel—like Culinary, History & Heritage and Spiritual tours. “We added geographic niche markets, too,” she said, citing Circle Michigan and Indiana magazine.
DeVries says the future of specialized publications for the tour industry reflects the demands of the market segments. “Niche publishing, like we do at Group Tour, is a balance of anticipating the interests of the markets and being prepared to meet those new demands. Or not,” DeVries said. “Not everything ‘new’ becomes a trend.”
Today, Group Tour Media has 22 employees plus independent representatives selling products across North America. Group Tour Media creates the most widely distributed publications in the group travel industry, and has worldwide exposure through GroupTourMedia.com
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!