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Community, culture, and good food: Time Out’s diversification model

As publishers continue face increasing pressure to diversify revenue streams, Time Out Group find a potentially sustainable and rewarding solution.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

By Saher Amer From Reuters Community

Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019 found that publishers implementing paywalls, membership schemes and digital subscriptions over the last few years have not yet had substantial impact.

It is not a new phenomenon that publishers have incorporated various revenue sources, such as events, branded content and ecommerce as part of their business models in order to become profitable and remain relevant. Amongst them, Time Out has pursued a brand-savvy take on monetization. 

Reuters spoke with Time Out Group plc CEO, Julio Bruno on how they have integrated food and cultural markets as part of their diversification model

Image source: Arévalo Photography - Time Out Market Miami

Image source: Arévalo Photography – Time Out Market Miami

Thinking outside the box

“The question to ask is why do you matter? And we try and think about that all the time to make sure we’re still relevant.”

Julio Bruno, CEO, Time Out

In 2014, the first Time Out Market opened in Lisbon, Portugal – a food and cultural market rooted in editorial curation and now the epicentre of the city. “The market is the largest single attraction in Lisbon with 3.9 million visitors in 2018, and since then has been growing from strength to strength,” says Julio. 

Time Out distributes content – written by professional journalists – across 327 cities in 58 countries through their website, mobile, magazines, live events and Time Out Market. They have been working towards revitalizing the brand on a grand scale and diversifying in addition to advertising revenue. Julio explains, “the brand now has two divisions, Time Out Media and Time Out Market but the whole of Time Out is about curating the best of the city – Time Out Market is about bringing that to life. Time Out Media is the print and digital format of showcasing the best places in the city, and now we are part of the fabric of the city all under one roof with Time Out Market.”

In 2018, Time Out Market has seen revenue growth of 51% year-on-year to £9 million (roughly $11 million), and Time Out Media also with a growth of 4% to £39.8m ($49.5 million), primarily driven by digital advertising growth of 23%. 

Julio continues, “it was evident that we had to take this idea worldwide as it had so much potential.” Time Out Market now have 4 markets open in New York, Boston and Miami as well as Lisbon and are planning to open more in locations including Chicago and Montreal (2019), Dubai (2020), London (2021), and Prague (2022). 

Time Out Market Dubai

Time Out Market Dubai

“One brand, one company, one team”

The Time Out Market and Time Out Media teams work together even though they operate as separate lines of business. 

Julio describes the relationship between the two, “in the media part we have traditional publishing staff like journalists, editors, public relations, and in the Time Out Market team we have bartenders, chefs, and ambassadors. Staff members from the media side and the market side all work together as the Time Out team to promote the brand.”

The Editors interact with the restaurants to keep up to date with progress and performance and also boost interest in the market. Similarly, social media images and videos are created to increase the popularity of the restaurants and Time Out’s online social media following. Time Out Market Lisbon currently has 20.5k followers, New York has 29.6k, and Boston 17.3k.

Investing in community value

“Time Out is about going out not staying in, we are part of the pattern of the city and we want people to physically experience that.”

Amidst the growing disconnectedness from real life experiences produced by social media and the collapse of the high street, the Time Out Markets offer a space where their audiences and other visitors can come together and share communal interaction

“A lot of people might not have heard of Time Out before, but the Time Out Market brings together the whole brand and makes people familiar with it” explains Julio,  “I like to say that we are building a community around the culinary experience – people not only go there to eat but they can have the best variety of food and can sit around the communal tables and chat and socialize.”  

In terms of foot traffic, the market seems to be doing considerably well with a record of 3.9 million visitors in Lisbon driving 95% year-on-year growth in EBITDA to £4.3 million (roughly $5.3 million) in 2018. The newer markets are also expected to draw in large amounts of visitors and provide high momentum to profitability similar to the Lisbon market.  

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