WSJ Interactive rolls Business Fare

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The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition this week begins Business Fare, a new content and electronic commerce initiative that offers expanded travel information and perks to subscribers.

WSJ Interactive Edition writers and editors will produce customized content for Business Fare and, through a deal with TheTrip.com, allow subscribers to book travel.

Tom Baker, VP-general manager of WSJ Interactive Edition, would not reveal details, but did say Interactive Edition would "share in the success" when subscribers book through TheTrip.com. Advertisers Iridium satellite phone service and Marriott International hotels signed up with significant banner buys through yearend, he said.

"Our motivation was first to come up with content that matches up with our subscribers' interests; and second, to open up the travel advertising category in the Interactive Edition," Mr. Baker said.

The WSJ Interactive Edition, whose subscriber base recently passed 250,000, will offer special deals and incentives to its members through Business Fare.

"One of the challenges of running a paid subscription site," Mr. Baker said, "is how do you keep enhancing that package to keep people interested and coming back."

One feature on the site will be a Road Warrior column written by WSJ Interactive Edition Managing Editor Rich Jaroslovsky about the ups and downs of using new technology on the road.

2ND SPECIALIZED CONTENT SITE

Until now, the Journal's interactive e-commerce efforts have been focused on selling information, such as premium library content and print copies of companies' annual reports. Business Fare will be the second specialized content site for subscribers; there also is a content and searchable career center area for members.

Fiona Swerdlow, analyst at Jupiter Communications, said The Wall Street Journal is wise to leverage the site as a value-add, rather than expecting a lucrative e-commerce site. "There's currently not much money to be made from booking revenue," she said. But the executive-heavy site is "certainly a great opportunity to sell advertising."

Copyright September 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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