Bright Blue Travel Magazine – The Latest Solution To Luxury Shopping

(Photo : Courtesy of Bright Blue - The Scoop / Design & Trend - Meg Busacca)

For the jet-setters of today with an urge for exploration and a taste for luxury, Bright Blue has developed an elevated shopping magazine to satisfy your consumerist desires.

In May of last year, Bright Blue launched the Luxury Travel Magazines to resolve a common issue travelers face: Visiting new cities and finding themselves uninformed as to where to best spend their pretty pennies.

The print magazine is available complimentary through the concierge at affiliated 4 and 5-star hotels, including the Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, Four Seasons, W Hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Waldorf Astoria and The Standard, just to name a few.

The company has seen tremendous success by providing an improved approach to connecting the world's elite hotels with today's finest luxury brands, ultimately making life easier for both the wealthy traveler and the spender.

Bright Blue has launched its magazine in four key U.S. cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.

(Photo : Founder of Bright Blue - Stephen Kong )

We had the opportunity to speak with the mastermind behind the Bright Blue solutions-based media firm, Stephen Kong, to get the insider scoop on how the idea transpired, and what we can expect in the future.

MB: In as few words as possible, describe Bright Blue for people to have a straightforward understanding of your product.

SK: Luxury, portable shopping guide.

MB: Stephen, provide us with a quick run-down of Bright Blue and what the initial "sign" was that propelled you to create the magazine.

SK: The company started in May of 2014, so you could say we are still brand new. However, the idea of creating the luxury shopping guide started over a decade ago. From my previous work experience, I knew the visitor market was in need for a greater product than what had been available. So the determination had been over a decade and a half in the making.

MB: Were you personally experiencing this gap or confusion while traveling and looking for ideal shopping areas?

SK: Yes, absolutely. I knew that personally, and from my friends who travel, that there was no tasty, little, easy-to-digest guide that could give us information. Because at the end of the day, when you work with your phone it can sometimes be problematic.  

It is a very broad market; it wasn't particularly designed with a focus, nor was it particularly upscale. Stores knew they had a lot of business with people coming from out of town, and in some cases, up to 50 percent. That is a lot of revenue for a store, we're not talking about 5 percent or 10 percent.

I also live in SoHo, therefore I basically live in an outdoor-tourist shopping mall. Love it or hate it, I see tourists all day, seven days a week, and especially on the weekends. What I've noticed is that they generally walk around like lost little lambs. I've lived in New York City for over a decade and I've seen people wandering around with these super thick, unattractive guidebooks.

MB: Were you finding concierge services or even a simple Google engine search unable to provide you with the information you were looking for? 

SK: If you go to Google Maps, there is no element of curation. That is the first issue with Google Maps, as much as I like it. The other issue is you cannot filter out shopping as much as you would like and the third issue, on average, the information is about a year old. In other words, stores may not be there that you might think will be. 

Google does a really good job of inviting its community to update places that are not there anymore. Street maps and the street views are about a year behind, at least in our experience. 

(Photo : Courtesy of Bright Blue - Travel Luxury Magazine)

MB: Let's say, you aren't the individual who is staying at a 4 or 5-star hotel, is the magazine available for purchase? Is it available at participating retail stores or even luxury car service companies?

SK: The extension will probably not be at other venues other than the hotels, for right now. If you travel by a car service, I don't know if you live in the city or if you were staying at a specific location. We want to focus on the buying habits of the people who are sleeping elsewhere other than their home, and the surest way to do that is to provide the guides in the hotels.

By the way, the reason for that is when people are traveling, their sense of budget generally goes out the window and they spend a lot more than people who actually live in that particular city.

What we are currently aiming to do is to talk to our clients more electronically, in other words, on their phones. Maybe he or she doesn't want expensive roaming fees because you're European or if you want a platform that is a little more current and a little easier to carry, we have a product for that individual — that product being

MB: What exactly does provide?

SK: It is a mobile, easy to find, five things to buy a day product offering.

MB: How often is it updated?

SK: Once every two weeks and hopefully it will be updated to once a week very soon.

MB: In the future, are you hoping to connect with specialty stores or local boutiques in certain locations for consumers that are more interested in unique, one-of-a-kind merchandise?

SK: Definitely. In the upcoming issues debuting this Spring, we're doing an "only in that city" session — to focus on the stand alone, single-door, only in that city experience.

Because when you travel, you really want to find those products that are really only germane to that city. We've learned that through feedback from concierges. We're looking for those hidden places. We love Dior, we buy Dior, but we can get Dior back at home.

MB: That is exciting! We love that. People desire that element of exclusivity.

SK: Yeah, totally. When individuals go into stores, our work has shown that they are willing to pay the price tag for it. They are willing to take those long cab rides to find those specialty pieces while traveling. The story behind those purchases are very important to people. There is a certain cache about saying "I bought this at this great little store," or, "You have to go visit this store, I found such and such at" - people love the story.

MB: So the next city to launch is Washington D.C. Is that still the game plan?

SK: D.C. comes out this Spring. I used to own "D.C. Magazine" and I know the city very well. It really is a powerhouse visitor market with a ton of money and they are actually opening a super great additional luxury shopping center soon — City Center. Many, many new brands will be going in there. 

MB: What other cities are on your radar to target in the U.S.? Are things moving globally?

SK: The opportunity lies in knowing that there are at least twelve great cities as well as three great Canadian cities to target. We're going to do just Washington D.C. for now as the new U.S. city, but later in 2015 we're going deeper into New York and deeper into Los Angeles to target the luxury Chinese market — same cities, different audience.

We had what we like to call, a brilliant flash of the obvious, and thought, we need to listen to our customers if people are asking for this. I think it is best we listen to our audience and give them what they want.

(Photo : Courtesy of Bright Blue - Travel Luxury Magazines)

MB: What other feedback or advice have you received through the development of the magazine that has facilitated your growth as a brand?

SK: Of course as a business grows, you are constantly making improvements. Even businesses that are very mature and stable, you constantly want to improve your product.

In May of 2014, we began the Bright Blue shopping guide with a basic, accordion fold map and we now have enhanced it into a little book — a major format change with two simple staples.

We aim to continue making improvements and as we begin to steer our focus on a new market, we will further focus on Los Angeles, New York, and so on.

Through our most recent upgrade and refocus on the wealthy Chinese market, we have basically come to the understanding, and I think this is true of user experience whether it is a little magazine like ours or a software or an app on your phone, that a product has to be easy to use. If it is not easy to use or it is unclear, people just won't use it.

We want individuals to quickly identify our magazine. We will always keep the product blue. Our vision for the future is if you travel to 50 cities throughout the world and you check into your hotel, we want people to recognize our blue magazine out of the corner of their eye and immediately know what it is. If a traveler recognizes that, we have won.

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