New magazine taps into tourist crowd

July 03, 1994|By Patricia Horn | Patricia Horn,Sun Staff Writer

Where Baltimore, a new free magazine directed at the almost 6 million visitors who stream into Baltimore each year, has landed in hotels, the airport, tourism kiosks and the convention center.

Published by Production Group International, an Arlington, Va.-based convention and meeting planning company, Where marks the first step in the firm's move into the Baltimore tourism trade.

"Baltimore is a sleeper city" in the tourism market, said Neil Saunders, publisher of the magazine, which is produced from PGI's Baltimore office. "No one had tried to do this [type of magazine] before. They didn't realize it was a sleeper market."

PGI considers Baltimore an "emerging city" and its top convention choice among smaller U.S. cities, said the 3-year-old company's Corporate Executive Officer and President Mark S. Sirangelo.

"Starting in 1996, when the new convention center opens, we are considering bringing 20 to 40 conventions a year to Baltimore," he said. "That means 100,000 to 150,000 new visitors and over $10 million in revenue for the city."

Baltimore's tourists generated around $500 million last year in direct and indirect spending, said Gilbert A. Stotler, assistant director of tourism and promotion for the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. Approximately 412,000 people attend conventions booked by the association through the convention center.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor, the new convention center and larger hotel capacity attracted PGI to the city, said Mr. Sirangelo. In the past three years, PGI has brought around 20 conventions into Baltimore on a test basis, including the 5,000-member Building Owners and Managers Association meeting last summer, he said.

PGI will spend $500,000 to $1 million within the first two years to launch Where Baltimore and to establish its Baltimore business. The monthly magazine had a first-print run of 30,000.

"It's a tourist-driven magazine," said Mr. Saunders. The magazine will mix feature articles on eating out, places to visit, events, shopping, and other tourist-dollar-directed topics, with listings, maps and advertising.

The magazine will compete for advertising with Guest Quick Guide, a California-produced guide published three times a year that also lists events, restaurants, hotels, and other attractions, but does not have feature articles. Both are distributed free to tourists through hotels, the convention center and city tourist offices, and at the airport.

PGI bought the franchise rights to publish Where magazines in Texas and Maryland. The Baltimore monthly is the 26th magazine in the Toronto-based Where Magazine International chain of publications.

PGI is one of the nation's largest convention planning companies. It has offices in 20 cities and last year managed 1,250 meetings in the United States and internationally.

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