I found out about the new section last month from Travel Editor Kate Auletta, who contacted me about submitting a post (probably because of this piece that ran on HuffPo back in December 2009). Editorially, she was very hands off, letting me decide what and when to submit. Even though HuffPo doesn’t pay, I took her up on the offer, primarily because I had already written the pieces and I knew from experience how much the link would increase my site traffic. I did revamp the posts for length (HuffPo wants entries to be between 500 to 800 words) and stuck on a new top that would appeal more to a general audience instead of readers searching for specific information.
I knew that other travel bloggers, writers, journalists and PR professionals would be curious about the HuffPo’s section and its plans going forward. So I emailed Auletta a list of questions about the “vertical” (it’s interesting how that’s the term of choice nowadays, as that’s what we labeled specialized niche blogs at USA TODAY). Here are her responses:
CGF: What’s the philosophy behind the Huffington Post’s new Travel section? What kind of posts should readers expect to find?
Kate Auletta: I’m of the belief that travel is in everybody’s DNA, no matter if that travel takes you less than 100 miles. It’s about transporting yourself and your comfort zone somewhere else and, most importantly, about learning about other cultures and people. With that in mind, we’ll have beautiful photography, breaking news, destination briefs, trends, and even what I’m calling ‘weird and wonderful’ news and stories.
Who are some of the authors that readers should expect to find on HuffPo Travel?
We’ll have a mix of experienced travel writers as well as people who may seem outside the mold, like chef Scott Conant, photographer Mattias Klum, and environmentalist Philippe Cousteau. We have a few others up our sleeve, too.
Tell us about your background as an editor and journalist.
I come from WSJ., the magazine from the Wall Street Journal, where I was Assistant Features Editor/Travel. Before that, I worked as an editor at House & Garden and InStyle.
How would you describe your own travel style? Are you a backpacker or more of a luxury lover?
I’m no backpacker, but I don’t need luxury, either. I’m happiest staying in a house where the amenities of home are easily available. Don’t get me wrong: I went to La Mamounia in Morocco in 2001 and that was hands-down the most luxurious place I’ve ever been and I would go back there in a heartbeat, but I’m also happy wearing flipflops around the beach, too.
What are some of your favorite travel blogs or publications?
Globorati, Jaunted, Gadling and Luxist are some of my favorite blogs. I’m a true magazine junkie, too. Nothing compares to sitting back and reading Travel & Leisure or Conde Nast Traveler cover to cover.
Where’s the last best place that you’ve visited?
Barbuda. It’s the small sister island to Antigua. It’s visually stunning with amazing, empty beaches, has a relaxed vibe and people, and some of the greatest grilled fish I’ve ever had in my life.
What’s your dream vacation?
Growing up, my parents [ed note: Kate’s father is New Yorker journalist Ken Auletta] took me on both relaxing (read: beach) and “learning” vacations. I’ve toured Morocco on a bus and schlepped through Istanbul, but I’ve also laid on the beach in St. Barths for 2 weeks. My dream trip really is a mix of the two: a strenuous, sight-seeing hike in the morning, followed by an afternoon of lounging in the sun. With amazing food, of course.
Are you accepting submissions from travel bloggers? What’s the application process? Is there any compensation?
YES! As far as I’m concerned, the more voices, the better. Have people shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with what they write about and where they have traveled, their writing experience, etc. and we can go from there. There is, however, no compensation for our writers.
What about photography?
HuffPost is very particular about photos. We need to make sure we have the rights to absolutely everything! If you’re a photographer who has traveled the world and wants to share your photos, though, send them my way!
What is your stance on press trips?
The Huffington Post does not allow press trips.