In one of those “Why-didn’t-we-think-of-this-before” moves, The New York Times is bolstering its tours and activities product by partnering with Urban Adventures with a brand called City Tours, based on its 36 Hours series.
Both partners bring some daunting numbers to the initiative. As of December 2017, the New York Times had a total of 3.5 million paid subscriptions in both print and digital versions, and more than 130 million monthly readers. Its annual travel show, held every January in New York City, is one of the largest of its genre in the world. Last January, attendance included 10,268 travel trade and 22,130 consumer attendees during the three-day event that took place from Jan. 26-28, 2018.
Meanwhile, Urban Adventures—known globally for its day trip products—is part of the Intrepid Group, which includes such brands as Peregrine, Adventure Tours, Peak Destination Management Company and others, which offers more than 2,700 itineraries in 120-plus countries.
The new City Tours will last an average of four hours each. It builds upon the Times launch in in 2013 of Times Journeys, a multi-day tour product. The tours will be co-branded as New York Times and Urban Adventures tours. Urban Adventures will handle all bookings and customer service.
Starting off, there will be nine tours will initially be available in Budapest, Marrakech, New York City, Tokyo, Toronto, Paris, Philadelphia, Prague, and Mexico City—all of which have all been featured in 36 Hours.
All tours are hands-on, include interactions with locals, and have a behind-the-scenes element; group size will be limited to 12 people. Some of the features include: going into a family’s home in Marrakech to have lunch; interacting with humanoid robots in Tokyo; and learning how to make a Philly cheesesteak.
Usually, a New York Times journalist in Times Journeys tours, but the compressed schedule of the Urban Adventures tours will make this less likely; however, journalists have already participated, in a sense, by providing the content that serves as the basis for much of the tour itinerary
For example, a Paris tour will cover about 50 percent of places featured in the corresponding 36 Hours column and will blend elements from both the Times’ and Urban Adventures’ tours.
Anyone who books a City Tour gets access to a one-month free trial of the Times with an email and password. Once the trial ends, tour participants get a 50 percent discount off the standard rate.
Tours will be marketed on both the Times Journeys and Urban Adventures’ sites, but if someone clicks on a tour on Times Journeys they’re taken to Urban Adventures to complete the booking. Tours will be offered multiple days a week and multiple times a day, and Hanson anticipates that the majority of bookings will occur within 48 hours of a tour.
The average cost of a tour is around $100 and are available for as little as $75, which the Times feels is a competitive price point.