Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, National Geographic Travel
Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a Canadian citizen, Keith Bellows was named senior vice president and editor-in-chief, National Geographic Travel, in June 2012. His duties include oversight of all National Geographic travel development and properties, including online, tablet, books, mobile, apps, expeditions and related initiatives.
Bellows also is editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler magazine, a position he has held since January 1998. Traveler is the world’s most widely read travel magazine and the category’s No. 1 performer on U.S. newsstands. Under Bellows’ stewardship, the magazine has been nominated for two National Magazine Awards, won more than 65 Lowell Thomas Awards for best travel writing (it has been named best magazine eight of Bellows’ 16 years), and 10 Folio Awards for Best Travel Magazine. In 2011 Bellows was named winner of NATJA’s inaugural “Spirit of Kalliope Award” for overall achievement in travel journalism.
Traveler has a distinguished record of innovation under Bellows: In 2006 it won an iTunes People’s Choice Award for Best Podcast (Bellows wrote two scripts); its “Intelligent Travel” blog won a 2007 Travvie and a 2009 Lonely Planet Award as best travel blog; the “Digital Nomad” program with Andrew Evans has proved that social media can be profitable (+$10 million so far) and has created a 21st-century, globe-trotting National Geographic explorer with a Klout score of 68.; other “nomads” now cover the family and urban beats. Traveler partnered with Matador.com to reach younger consumers around 2012’s “The Great Undiscovered Storyteller’s Contest” (a search for blog, feature, photo essay and video talent), and the magazine/website launched its “Travelers of the Year” search for people traveling with purpose; its successful “Best of the World” franchise; and “The Traveler 50” — an annual roundup of the people, places and ideas changing how we travel. Under his direction, in 2013 the magazine/website launched “Canada’s 50 Places of a Lifetime,” the first in a series of country-specific roundups of iconic places.
Bellows has led the Society’s tablet travel charge — Traveler magazine is available on Nook, Kindle, Zinio and iNewsstand. He has also developed vertical apps, including “50 Places of a Lifetime” (90,000 downloads at $1.99); the Society’s first sponsored app (“The Taste of Montreal”) and “NG 360” (20 seat-of-the-pants panoramics). He helped develop five profitable book spinoffs — from “Journeys of a Lifetime” to “Food Journeys of a Lifetime” — of the magazine’s greatest franchise, “50 Places of a Lifetime.” Among other books launched under his watch: “World’s Best Travel Experiences,” “The Four Seasons of Travel,” “Where the Locals Go,” The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel” and “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.”
Bellows has written for Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Parenting, The Guardian, AARP and many other publications. He also wrote “The Canuck Book,” the 1998 Winter Olympics ACCESS Guide for ABC-TV and “100 Places That Will Change Your Child’s Life,” part of a program he is developing to encourage parents, corporations and schools to view travel as a critical learning tool.
Bellows is a graduate of Gordonstoun School (Scotland) and Dartmouth College. He lectures extensively around the world (and is part of the National Geographic Speakers Bureau), and his more than 200 television appearances include the “TODAY” show, “Good Morning America” and a regular segment on “National Geographic Today.”