Site relaunch: 'Times' travel

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Exotic rain forests, Italian villas on the Amalfi coast, towering redwoods on the Oregon coast. Starting next month, subscribers to New York Times Digital's NYTimes.com will have access to these kinds of travel pleasures, special promotions and the New York Times' Travel section archive extending back to 1996 when the site relaunches its travel section.

The revamp promises readers easier navigation and new features, while marketers seeking to reach this highly coveted group will have new advertising opportunities such as the ability to send dedicated e-mail messages, a program called "Featured Deal" and sponsorship of expanded content across six travel categories that include cruise, golf, spa, beach, outdoor and ski. The "Featured Deal" will allow advertisers to target deals to the appropriate site pages. New York Times Digital last week began dedicated advertiser e-mail with Canyon Ranch, the well-known spa hideaway. The site is also nearing a deal with an online travel booking company.

increased inventory

One of the new features of NYTimes.com's relaunch is access to the archive of travel stories from the newspaper. "All content from the pay archive will be available to users for free, we will increase the amount of inventory we have and create a number of new placements for advertisers," said Scott Meyer, VP-general manager, NYTimes.com. Users previously had to pay for such content. The site's relaunch is planned for the week of Sept. 2 and will include a promotion with Qantas Airways involving a trip giveaway for site visitors. In deference to the anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, the site plans "to balance the promotion of the new section appropriately, against the extensive editorial coverage that will be running on NYTimes.com," a spokeswoman said.

Despite post-9/11 skittishness, the online travel category is projected to grow, and that means ad revenue opportunities for Web publishers. Travel Web sites like cheaptickets.com, hotwire.com, orbitz.com, expedia.com and travelocity.com are projected to grow 28% in 2002 to $30.8 billion. Forrester Research projects that 32% of U.S. households with Internet access arranged travel online last year compared with 27% in 2001. NYTimes.com has 10 million active registered users, and gets 1 million visitors each day, according to its executives.

The travel section overhaul will offer advertisers more flexibility. "They could buy a great getaways e-mail, a featured deal placement as well as on every contextually relevant page," Mr. Meyer said. "We want greater contextual placement for our advertisers."

Aside from the archive and other new content, NYTimes.com will offer content from the International Herald Tribune, listings for vacation rentals, Fodors' Guide listings, and images licensed from Lonely Planet. NYTimes.com also plans to use targeted advertiser e-mail to tie Travel to the Real Estate section where readers seek information about vacation and retirement home rentals and sales. Among the advertisers lined up for the relaunch: Qantas, Hong Kong Tourism Board, and Rail Europe. Additional advertisers are expected to be signed on later this month.

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