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The New York Times adds city tours, for “people who really get what we do”

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While The New York Times is making millions in profit thanks to digital subscribers, what it’s increasingly losing out on—because of the transition from print—is the community-building aspect associated with reading a traditional newspaper.

To keep up with the times, The Times decided to try and recreate the magic of community using unique, modern methods, like launching City Tours.

“If you go back far enough to where we’re largely regional and largely print, seeing everybody with the newspaper was a community-building thing,” said David Rubin, senior VP of Audience and Brand at The Times. “So how we re-create that community is certainly something we talk about.”

The Times’ City Tours website

But why travel with The New York Times?

The Times has a tagline for that:
Travel Smarter. Gain Understanding. Return Inspired.

“Our journeys are selected with New York Times audiences and like-minded travelers in mind, to satisfy their intellectual curiosity and high standards,” they explain.

“Each exclusive travel experience is inspired by Times content and joined by either a New York Times journalist or Times-selected expert who travel with the group for the entire journey. Depending on the tour, expect to be joined by experts in history, world affairs, politics and the arts.”

What we’re there to do is to tell you stories.

Elaine Sciolino, author and former Paris bureau chief for The New York Times, is only too happy to explain why she’d love to “take you by the hand and say, come with me and experience this country in a completely new way”:

With unique endeavours like this, The Times’ goal is to deepen readers’ relationship to the newspaper. Rubin believes not too many people who are not already engaging with the paper will sign up for a day trip.

“The big shift for The Times, over the last five to eight years, is we’re committed to being a subscriber first business and that’s about relationships and that model requires us to have people who really get what we do and love it and want to pay for it,” he said.

“The repeat and highly engaged, committed relationship is more important to us than an atomic reading, if you will, a one-off big reading.”

The New York Times’ City Tours is based on its popular 36 Hours series, and has been launched in partnership with Urban Adventures.

The short trips focus on a local theme, like art, history and food.

The tours are initially available in 9 cities: Budapest, Marrakech, New York City, Tokyo, Toronto, Paris, Philadelphia, Prague, and Mexico City, which have all been featured in 36 Hours.

In the spirit of community-building, the tours are designed to be hands-on, include interactions with the locals, have exclusive access to places, and are limited to 12 people.

“In Marrakech, travelers will get to go into a family’s home and have lunch,” said Victoria Hanson, director of Times Journeys. “In Tokyo, they’ll be interacting with humanoid robots. In Philadelphia, they’ll be stepping behind the grill to learn how to make a Philly cheesesteak.”

The average cost of a tour is around $100 and tours are available for as little as $75. To sweeten the deal, anyone who books a City Tour would also get access to a 1-month free trial of the Times, plus a 50% discount off the standard rate, once the trial ends.

“With City Tours, our travel offerings now reflect the entire breadth of our travel coverage,” Rubin says, “and give more travelers the chance to explore cities alongside local guides who live there, with little planning and without having to dig deep into their travel budget.”

For more details on City Tours from The New York Times, click here.