Nathan Lump is Editor of Travel + Leisure, a role he assumed in September of 2014, leading the strategic and creative development of the T+L brand across platforms. Prior to joining Time Inc., he spent nearly two years at Condé Nast, most recently as Director of Branded Content, a role in which he established and led a new corporate branded content practice for the company, and before that as Digital Director at Condé Nast Traveler, where he oversaw the brand’s digital channels—CNTraveler.com and its mobile version, social media, and the tablet edition—spearheading a site redesign and leading it to 132% year-over-year organic growth. He has created and led the content strategy and content marketing departments at two major advertising agencies, J. Walter Thompson and Hill Holliday, working with clients such as T. Rowe Price, Rolex, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual, and HSBC. He served as Editor of the travel edition of T: The New York Times Style Magazine from 2006 to 2009, following six years at Travel + Leisure and earlier editorial positions at SmartMoney and Condé Nast Traveler. His work has won Webby and OMMA Awards and been nominated for multiple National Magazine Awards.
How did you get into the publishing industry?
When I was in college, I worked for the Let’s Go series of travel guides (they’re produced entirely by Harvard students), which gave me a terrific base of experience assigning and managing writers, and editing content. After graduation, I moved to New York with the full intention of taking a year off from school before returning to get my Ph.D. I had a couple of fairly miserable jobs in related fields—I worked for a catalog retailer and a book publisher—and realized that some of my friends who were happiest in their entry-level jobs were working in magazines. This was the 90s, and magazines were really glamorous places to work. My résumé happened to be on a managing editor’s desk the day an assistant quit, and thanks to my experience, I got the gig. I fell in love with the work and the rest is history. (Never did get that Ph.D.!)
Tell us about Travel + Leisure. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the magazine?
T+L has been around for more than 40 years, and for a long time it has done quite a good job of addressing the interests and needs of its audience of highly sophisticated, affluent, frequent travelers. When I took over the brand last fall, my notion was to take what’s great about the brand’s DNA—a cosmopolitan and global point of view, a focus on deep expertise and what’s leading edge, an attention to the various lifestyle interests that intersect with travel—and give it a fresh new creative expression across platforms, with an eye to modernizing the website and making the magazine more effectively do what print still does well in the digital age. Overall, for the magazine it’s about diversifying the range of destinations and experiences we cover, and making sure that creatively the product is as immersive and inspiring as it can be—that it gets people excited about new things. And online it’s about making sure that we are satisfying a wide range of needs, everything from daydreaming to trip planning, and providing an experience that is both easy to use and beautiful.
Never stop learning.
Travel + Leisure’s Motto?
Never stop traveling! Travel is a joy, and there’s a whole world out there to discover.
Your greatest success as Editor of Travel + Leisure? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
So far, it’s been the relaunch of the brand that we unveiled last week—and particularly that we redesigned both the print magazine and the website at the same time. This almost never happens, but it was really critical to me that we think about remaking the brand holistically across our platforms. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished as a team; I genuinely love the new products and think they are spot on for our audience.
Your advice to an aspiring editor/journalist?
First I think it’s essential to practice your craft—I’m a big advocate of learning by doing. Find outlets to work for, no matter how small or obscure or poorly funded, and get to work. I also think it’s critical to learn and stay up to date on the full range of media: today it’s all about being fluent in all platforms, from print to web to all the social channels to video. And it’s become so important to learn how you effectively market content—how do you get maximum exposure and promote your content to help it find an audience? I also always advise people to learn the business side of our business; being an editor or journalist today you need to understand what’s going on in marketing and advertising and the various ways content-driven brands are looking to identify new revenue streams. Editors and journalists who understand these things have an important edge in the job market today, I believe.
Describe the ideal experience reading Travel + Leisure.
I hope the readers of T+L are both entertained and informed. We aim to surprise them with things that are novel, and provide them with fresh ways of looking at and thinking about places and experiences that are more familiar. I hope you see something that takes your breath away, read something that fascinates or moves you, and discover something that makes you feel we made good use of your time.
How do you motivate your employees?
My overall philosophy of management is to hire great people, provide clear leadership and vision for them, and then as much as possible give them the freedom to do what they do. I myself have always worked best when I’ve been given ownership and responsibility and a high degree of autonomy over my work. It sounds obvious, but I think people do their best work when they feel invested in the outcome, which includes feeling like the work is a true representation of their skill and talent, so I try to establish those conditions.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Cheese and red wine. (I’m assuming there might still be water?)
What literature is on your bed stand?
Generally speaking I’m reading a book or two and some periodicals. At this moment, it’s Alexandra Fuller’s memoir “Leaving Before the Rains Come,” the latest issues of The Economist and The New York Times Magazine, and a few French travel magazines: Air France’s magazine, L’Officiel Voyage, Ici & Ailleurs.
Italian menswear, generally, and Eidos Napoli, specifically.
Favorite travel destination?
Absolutely impossible for me to choose—I’ve probably been to Italy more times than any other country, but I’m equally passionate about India, and southern Africa, and France, and I happen to love Canada and I have a thing for those slightly odd places that are on the fringes of our planet, like Patagonia and Greenland and Tasmania. I could go on and on!
What's next for Travel + Leisure?
We’ve got so much in store—we’ll be launching some really terrific interactive destination guides on our site a little later this year, for example, and will do some fun events around the 20th Anniversary of our annual reader survey, the World’s Best Awards. But the biggest news will be around video, events, and commerce—stay tuned!