Although most people have long since planned their summer vacations, Huffington Post hopes that there’s still enough time to attract readers and advertisers to the travel vertical it’s launching in beta later this afternoon. The introduction of a travel section follows the food and arts channels HuffPo unveiled this spring. The online news site, which was once primarily associated with left-of-center political news and opinion, is planning on rolling out additional verticals, though the company declined to offer specifics.
The importance of verticals such as entertainment, sports, business, living/lifestyle, religion, along with local sites for NYC, Chicago, LA and Denver — even a dedicated Twitter Edition — is one of the reasons why HuffPo has been able to maintain the 24 million monthly unique visitors to the site. And that number is also attracting more advertisers, helping make good HuffPo President and Chief Revenue Officer Greg Coleman’s goal of doubling revenues by next year.
HuffPost Travel debuts with sponsorship from Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The channel is being promoted as an “online travel hub,” covering tips, destination news, deals, as well as reviews of hotels, cruises, spas and airlines.
The arrangement with Starwood, a first-time HuffPo advertiser, also goes beyond standard banner ads. After long being wary of comments and other aspects of social media, many big spending marketers are now asking be a part of an online community’s mix. While Starwood ads won’t appear as part of the Twitter feeds that Coleman has set up for advertisers, the site’s sending tools allow for a brand to be carried over to Twitter and Facebook when a post is shared by a reader. And if a Starwood sponsored Travel page is shared on Twitter, a special Twitter hashtag will be included in the tweet.