News International, publisher of The Times and Sunday Times newspapers, is hoping to open up a new source of revenue by launch a membership scheme for the two titles.
As dwindling advertising and circulation revenue plague the newspaper industry, News International is looking to develop a new revenue model that includes income derived from building on rewarding reader loyalty.
This latest scheme, called Times+, will build on a similar, existing programme run by the Sunday Times around its arts and entertainments coverage, called Culture+.
That programme gives readers priority booking and discounted tickets to selected shows, exhibitions and events. The new Times+ scheme will offers a range of similar benefits in addition to giving members free access to one of its associated specialist packs.
These packs will be the already established Culture+ and a new series of offers bundled as Travel+.
Membership is open to all at a charge of £50 a year but is complimentary to subscribers of The Times and The Sunday Times.
Katie Vanneck-Smith, managing director News International’s customer direct operation, said the publisher was attempting to change its relationship with its readers.
She said: “We are moving away from the traditional model of volume in favour of developing more direct relationships with our customers based on their interests and passions.”
News International has adopted several programmes across its range of tabloid and quality newspapers through which to implement this strategy.
The Sunday Times and the Times already offer a subscription and home delivery service to their readers.
The company also launched a web-based loyalty scheme this weekend for readers of the News of the World, offering them the chance to save money on a range of goods with a cash-back incentive.
News International claims that 90,000 people have joined its Culture+ programme since launch in Setember last year.
Travel+ will give its members the chance to meet journalists, including the editors, columnists and critics, from both the Times and the Sunday Times, at bespoke events.
It will also offer exclusive private excursions and tours, as well as upgrades and discounts alongside a year’s subscription to the Sunday Times Travel magazine.
News International said further packages will be unveiled over the course of the next year,