Meredith Corp. sells Journey + Leisure to Wyndham for $100 million

Travel + Leisure has 13 letters. But the name corresponds to nine digits.

Des Moines-based Meredith Corp. announced on Wednesday that it is selling the flagship travel magazine to timeshare giant Wyndham Destinations for $ 100 million. However, the buyer cares less about the magazine than about the title on the cover.

As a result of the sale, Wyndham Destinations will be renamed Travel + Leisure Co. next month. The company will lease the actual magazine back to Meredith under a 30-year contract so that the publisher can continue to produce and sell the publication.

In addition to purchasing $ 100 million in cash, Wyndham Destinations agreed to purchase $ 30 million worth of ads in Meredith Publications over the next five years, Meredith CEO Tom Harty said during Citi on Wednesday 2021 Global TMT West Virtual Conference.

In his presentation, Meredith said it was looking for a “way to monetize more than 40 of its brand names,” including titles like Better Homes & Gardens, People, InStyle and Eating Well. Compared to the months after Meredith acquired Time Inc., valued at $ 1.8 billion in 2017, when the publisher dumped magazines such as Time and Sports Illustrated, Harty said he wanted to sign more partnership deals.

“We believe our brands have tremendous value that we don’t get value for,” he said. “And you have these options. You can either sell or partner.”

In addition to the brand name, Wyndham Destinations gains control of Travel + Leisure’s two affinity clubs. Approximately 60,000 members currently pay $ 100 to $ 300 per year to Travel + Leisure for membership, which brings discounts on hotel rooms, cruises, amusement park entry, and other vacation packages.

Vanessa Picariello, spokeswoman for Wyndham Destinations, said the company plans to expand the clubs with “economy” and “luxury” deals. The company will launch its first new club later this year with a monthly membership fee of less than $ 20.

Picariello said the company plans to use the Travel + Leisure name to offer new travel services and “expand branded license agreements.”

Launched in 1937 as US Camera & Travel, the magazine became Travel + Leisure after American Express bought it in 1968 for its publications division. It was later acquired by Time Inc. and was part of the acquisition of that company by Meredith.

Reported circulation of the magazine has remained steady at 950,000 since the sale that closed three years ago this month. Meredith reported in August that Travel + Leisure sold 735 pages of print magazine ads in the past fiscal year, the sixth largest among Meredith magazines.

Travel + Leisure Magazine, cover January 2021

Wyndham Destinations makes money selling timeshare contracts, managing resorts, and helping members book vacations on a network of other company hotels and homes. Wyndham Destinations has 4 million members in its timeshare network and manages 230 resorts.

“Today we’re adding one of the most trusted and influential brands in the travel industry,” said Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations, in a statement Wednesday.

The sale comes at a precarious time for the tourism industry. With resort cancellations and closings during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wyndham Destinations posted a loss of $ 258 million in the first nine months of 2020, laying off or laying off 9,000 workers at one point.

By late September, company executives told shareholders that Wyndham Destinations had hired about 3,300 of those employees.

Tyler Jett covers jobs and economics for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at [email protected], 515-284-8215 or on Twitter at @LetsJett.

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