For new travels, digital is the way to go

John A. Magsaysay (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The word “travel” holds different meanings for different people.

There are some who go on regular business trips, while there are those who jet-set on holidays. There’s the budget traveler, the backpacker, and the “million mile” members who only fly in and out in the lap of luxury. And then there’s the worldly shopper, the global gourmand, the culture vulture, the local adventurer, or the international nomad. While travelers may come in various shapes, sizes, and seductions, one travel mag has perfectly captured the heart and imagination of the Filipino voyager for over a decade now. And it now launches us into newer frontiers.

“Filipinos are very curious travelers,” notes Smile magazine’s editor in chief, Tara FT Sering. “There are a lot of travelers who want to be there first. I wouldn’t say we’re competitive, but there’s a strong sense of curiosity, pride, and adventure with the way we travel.” The aptly named glossy is found in all Cebu Pacific domestic and international flights, carrying on the carrier’s brand image by making travel more fun on its pages. “Cebu Pacific has done a lot in terms of making air travel more democratic, available to a larger number of people, and for Smile, we’re there to catch them and influence their tastes, in terms of developing a certain travel mindset and worldview,” adds Sering. “We’re showing them what’s out there and what they can do, and also in terms of representing ourselves as traveling Filipinos. When we go out, it’s a way of telling people who we are when we travel. We’re very diverse travelers.”

But while the magazine may partly be responsible for growing the Cebu Pacific fleet from 12 aircraft a decade ago to 56 to date, expanding to destinations such as Sydney and Guam, for Sering, the mandate is not really to boost ticket sales. “We see Smile magazine not only as an in-flight magazine, but a travel and lifestyle magazine for everybody. More than anything, Smile tries to represent and market the Philippines to all these people who are interested in coming to our shores, and we are at the forefront of that. Also, opening up the world to many Filipinos at the same time. So, we are empowered by this two-pronged vision of travel: the Filipinos to the world, and the world to the Philippines,” she notes.

This Smile manages to do with the help of Sering’s like-minded editorial staff from Ink Publishing — one of the world’s key resources for in-flight literature — featuring everything from luxurious resorts, cross-country itineraries, socio-cultural features, and even travel bits as simple (yet smart) as local peer recommendations. And now that the magazine’s destinations are fast growing, and its disciplines more evolving, Smile magazine thought the next best stop would be the worldwide web.

Unveiling its digital presence recently with Smile magazine’s Waytogo website, a convenient sidebar on Cebu Pacific’s homepage, Sering aims to make travel content more accessible for the increasingly mobile generation. “We’re at a time when digital products complement what you see in print. So you see something that inspires you in our pages, you go online and get more information, and then you can go and book that trip. It’s now become a round-trip experience,” she notes.

Yet more than your usual travel tips and curated encounters, Waytogo elevates the user experience a notch higher by tapping the Internet’s more personal pulse: social media. With its “My Travel Kit” feature, the Waytogo website encourages travelers to build private travel goals complete with hotel and restaurant information, site and tour suggestions, and tourist tips and tricks that can be accessed in a swipe of your smart phone. “Just key in your own name and a password, and you get to create a kind of pin board of travel inspiration that is just yours. It can be like a bucket list of your travels that you can share with friends. And your friends can also pin travel ideas and suggestions for you,” Sering says of the engaging app that could prove rewarding when you find yourself lost in a new city or dreaming of a new destination.

“I think it’s a great way to get peer referrals. So it’s not just limited to a certain group, but people like you, people who love to travel, people with the same persuasions and taste. It’s not a very strict way of thinking, unlike with traditional media that tells you how to travel and what to do. Now, it’s an entire world of people giving their own opinions and firsthand experiences,” Sering adds of the new travel resource.

And to stir the user’s curiosity even more, Sering admits to exploring something her previous medium hasn’t done before. “We will have videos, 30-second to 1-minute videos that we take when we travel, so it’s live and it goes behind the scenes, to acquaint you with people and experiences,” she reveals. Yet all these come with a simple interface that will encourage anyone to pick a place, plan an itinerary, and ultimately realize it with a click of a widget that sends you straight to the Cebu Pacific booking website. “The way we process information makes it more convenient and faster,” she assures.

“To access it, you are already in a travel frame of mind, because it appears on the Cebu Pacific website. This is just a tipping point to inspire you and give you that nudge to take that trip. I think it will actually spur people’s wanderlust even more,” Sering says.

The new resource may do wonders for the country’s increasingly influential low-cost carrier, but above all, it helps liberate our travel experiences towards a growingly global outlook.

But for Sering and the rest at Smile, the main joys of travel will always remain the same. “It’s meeting people more than anything, being amazed at how different they are. I like experiencing cultures that are very different from ours; that’s very enriching,” she says. And there really is no better reason why we travel.

 

 

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To access Cebu Pacific and Smile Magazine’s new Waytogo website, visit waytogo.cebupacificair.com.

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