At the beginning of the year, Skift named subscriptions as one of its travel ‘megatrends’ for 2020, suggesting that subscription-based travel will give companies a new and interesting way to “create lasting relationships with consumers” this year.
Of course, 2020 didn’t turn out as expected, leaving the industry far more focused on keeping businesses running rather than inspiring loyalty.
But as the year draws to a close, and consumers start to consider the possibility of life beyond the pandemic, will a subscription model gain traction?
Finding loyalty with luxury travellers
In 2019, luxury travel company Inspirato launched one of the first subscription services within the sector. Inspirato Pass allows customers to book unlimited stays in the company’s high-end vacation homes, select five-star hotels, as well as book experiences run by Inspirato such as cruises – all for a monthly fee of $2500.
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For Inspirato, the aim is to solve the problem of unbooked inventory, allowing the company to broker deals (for cheaper stays) behind the scenes rather than discounting and diluting its own luxury reputation. For consumers, the benefit is not only the potential to save on nightly rates, but the ability to travel to and stay in multiple locations without incurring extra cost, as well as enjoy brand experiences in those locations, too.
As Covid hit, Inspirato paused its subscription service, allowing members to freeze for three months and apply recurring payments to future months.
Targeting a new wave of remote workers
Of course, Covid has hugely impacted travel as a whole, with consumers unable or less willing to fly or stay in hotels even as lockdown measures lifted. At the same time, however, the pandemic has also accelerated the concept of remote working, which seems to be a reason why other companies are now experimenting with new subscription models.
Recently, hotel chain Citizen M launched two subscription services, the first of which is targeted at people who typically travel for work. For £500 per month or an annual fee, companies receive three stays per month plus other perks such as a workspace in Citizen M hotels and meeting room usage. The second service is targeted at freelancers or ‘digital nomads’, who want to “travel the world without missing a beat at work.” Charging a flat rate of £50 per night for 29 consecutive nights, the idea is to align with the now standardised concept of remote work, which means people are not necessarily ever tied down to a single location.