With advertising still struggling, the WSJ is expanding its commerce offerings by getting into travel services. The site, WSJ Travel, will sell and promote vacation packages. Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS), the WSJ’s parent, makes it clear that the travel site is separate from the paper’s editorial side. The travel effort is similar to the WSJ Wine business that was launched in Sept. ’08.
Last summer, the NYT followed the WSJ in reaching out to oenophiles with its own wine club. Although luxary and travel marketing has been battered by the recession, the papers feel that appealing to a select group of readers, they can enhance their audience connection as well as carving out another revenue stream.
Since newspaper publishers have often counted on travelers as a big part of their business, the WSJ’s move certainly makes sense. Though it’s hard to see it as anything more than incremental. So far, USA Today has explored its connection to travelers through an ad-supported free app called AutoPilot, which lets users track their itinerary and check flight status, along with blog items and articles from the newspaper.