“Connecting with new affluents”

Company History
DEPARTURES magazine was founded in 1984. It counts itself as the leading voice of luxury and is distributed exclusively to American Express Platinum Card and Centurion Members – affluent, well-traveled – individuals with a unique and undiscovered luxury experiences in every issue; a rich and comprehensive vision of luxury to inspire and reward the lives of a sophisticated and interested audience. This exclusive membership access means that DEPARTURES is alone in connecting with the truly affluent in a significant and efficient way. DEPARTURES is a lifestyle sourcebook – a call to action on where to go, how to go, and who and what to know – now.


The Challenge
DEPARTURES offers Platinum and Centurion cardholders the benefit of having unique access to exclusive content surrounding luxury travel, fashion, lifestyle and culture. Given that most credit cards are free, but Platinum members pay $450 a year, and Centurion members pay $2,500 a year to be cardholders, the task was to develop ideas that would help DEPARTURES connect and engage with “new affluents” (Centurion and Platinum members between the ages of 24 and 44) via various touch-points, including
social media, events, and digital strategies. “Connecting and engaging with new affluents” The eight-person team from Parsons The New School for Design and Columbia Business School developed a social media strategy, digital tactics, and unique events for DEPARTURES to connect and engage with new affluents in a relevant and cool way. The process started off with preliminary research into the brand, target market and media landscape through existing reading materials. The team performed mystery shopping into competitors of DEPARTURES and market leaders to study the strengths and weaknesses of DEPARTURES. In-depth interviews with four existing cardholders, who best represented the various customer profiles, were conducted and helped to shape the social media strategy and experiential event ideas. The team came up with numerous ideas, such as an ambassador program for readers aged 24 to 44; curated travel experiences for millennials who seek more than just the typical sightseeing trips; a podcast to bring the magazine’s existing travel narratives to life; and “Staycation” initiatives for members who wish to explore their own city in an unexpected way. These ideas when executed together, or even individually, should strengthen the brand’s social media presence and engagement with its members


The Team
Clara Carulla, Columbia Business School
Olive Chen, Columbia Business School
Stacey Chia, Parsons School of Design
Lee Cross, Columbia Business School
Cheryl Kao, Parsons School of Design
Sophie Latulippe, Parsons School of Design
Akia Mitchell, Columbia Business School
Faris Mourad, Parsons School of Design