Dec 14, 2023 - Business

Dotdash Meredith expands Food & Wine Classic to Charleston amid broader events push

Dotdash Meredith

Dotdash Meredith, the parent company to dozens of major media brands including People, Better Homes & Gardens and Simply Recipes, is bringing one of its biggest events — the annual Food & Wine Classic — to Charleston in 2024, CEO Neil Vogel told Axios.

Why it matters: It’s part of the company's broader effort to focus on its core brands and build bigger event franchises around them.

  • ”We have 40 brands in total but roughly 20 of those brands are the vast, vast majority of the business,” Vogel said.
  • ”We’ll keep investing in all of them, but the brands that are the vast majority of the business will get the vast majority of the investment and that’s where the events are going to be focused.”

Catch up quick: The Food & Wine Classic in Aspen has been bringing together top chefs, restaurateurs and foodies for over 40 years.

  • The Aspen Classic, which will continue in addition to the Charleston Classic, hosted 4,000 attendees in 2023, making it one of Dotdash Meredith’s biggest and most profitable events. The event sold out in three hours last year.

Details: The Food & Wine Classic in Charleston, taking place Sept. 27 - 29 next year, is expected to attract 2,000 attendees in its first year, a spokesperson told Axios.

  • The new event will bring together several of Dotdash Meredith's key food and lifestyle brands in addition to Food & Wine, including Southern Living and Travel + Leisure.
  • The weekend-long festival, which will feature local talent in addition to chefs, is being underwritten by Explore Charleston, the city’s local tourism bureau.
  • Tickets for the 2024 Aspen event are going for $2,950. Pricing for the Charleston event has yet to be announced.

What’s next: Vogel told Axios that events will become a much larger focus for the company as it looks to double down on its most profitable brands.

  • In addition to expanding the Food & Wine Classic to the East Coast, Vogel said the company is eyeing a third market to expand the festival even further.
  • It plans to build out a two-day travel industry conference tied to its annual Travel & Leisure Award event in 2024.
  • Dotdash Meredith also plans to expand its annual Byrdie Beauty Lab event franchise from New York City to several major cities across the country.

The big picture: More media publishers are leaning into events and experiences to capture value from established brands, especially as the advertising market continues to be volatile.

  • “The ad market is still difficult and tricky. but if you aggregate really valuable audiences and you have media properties people care about you’ll do well,” Vogel said.
  • Dotdash Meredith’s digital and print ad revenues have declined year-over-year each for the first three quarters of 2023, but its losses have become much smaller in subsequent quarters.
  • Dotdash Meredith’s parent company IAC told investors last quarter that it doesn’t expect Dotdash Meredith‘s digital revenues “to further decline from here as traffic growth on the core brands has returned.”
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