Subscription travel brings recurring summer fun

If we can subscribe to something like Apocabox – if the world ends on a predictable monthly recurring billing schedule – why can’t we subscribe to more travel services? This gap in the market is gaping, but it won’t be for long as subscriptions go on vacation.

JetBlue introduced this route in 2009 as its “All-You-Can-Jet” program which, while well-received, eventually ended – existing only as a raffle where lucky Airmen can win passes.

United Airlines upped the gauntlet a few years later with its United subscription deals, though it was things like airport lounge access and extra legroom. It’s fine, but we want more.

This was before the subscription boom of 2020 that massively accelerated a love affair that had been slowly building for over a decade, but didn’t quite get there. It needed a push. Today, we’re seeing increased action in travel subscriptions as airlines, rental car fleets and accommodations secure recurring revenue to boost cash flow and inspire loyalty like few models do.

Alaska Airlines was the first to enter the fray in 2022, announcing its new Flight Pass subscription service in the first quarter. Plans start at $49 per month, allowing members to fly “up to 24 roundtrip flights per year to the most popular routes in California, plus nonstop service from California airports to Reno, Phoenix and Las Vegas, for a fixed monthly fee. ,” It said.

Alaska Airlines promotes Flight Pass as “a new way to travel that allows travelers to book prime cabin offerings for an entire year and reward subscribers with lower-than-average fares on eligible flights.”

On Thursday, June 9, NerdWallet reported that “instead of trying to be everything for every traveler, Alaska’s subscription focused on a narrow niche: young Californians with high wanderlust. and schedule flexibility. So far, just under half of subscribers are millennials or Gen Z, according to Alaska. »

That’s a win for West Coast millennials, but what about the rest of us?

Luxury wants to enter

On Thursday, luxury travel subscription service Inspirato announced the launch of its new subscription service, Inspirato Select. For the nominal investment of $24,000 per year (and don’t forget the $2,000 registration fee), members can choose from half a million dazzling travel options. And what could it be at such nosebleed prices?

A press release refers to “a long weekend in a five-star penthouse in New York, four nights in a multimillion-dollar four-bedroom residence at a luxury resort in Los Cabos, a six-bedroom villa with a view of the ocean and a private pool for four nights in the British Virgin Islands, nine perfect nights in a suite at one of Chicago’s top five-star hotels” and “a four-bedroom residence for a five-night stay in the heart of Vail Village in Colorado”.

Great. You might be wondering, “Can I reserve them without spending $24,000 a year for access through a particular site?” Of course you can, but Inspirato sells flexible, transferable luxury travel. For the high-end vacationer, this could be a bargain.

According to the announcement, “Inspirato Select trips are 100% transferable and can be shared with others at no additional cost. This gives subscribers the flexibility to use their subscription in different ways: they can enjoy their trips themselves or gift them to family and friends.They can also use Select Trips for their companies to motivate, reward and retain high performers, thank colleagues and key partners, and host offsite retreats.

As Netflix and other streaming platforms move to stop account sharing among non-subscriber viewers in extended families, luxury travel sees added value. It would have to be. But then the dynamics of travel loyalty change, and so does everything else.

In May, The New York Times quoted Adam Levinter, author of “The Subscription Boom: Why an Old Business Model is the Future of Commerce,” as saying, “Travel and tourism have always been tied to free points or rewards programs. free miles. With paid programs, customers are incentivized to spend because they have their skin in the game.”

Parks and Recreation and Rental Car Memberships

With inflation howling right now, suppose you don’t have a luxury travel budget. Maybe you don’t like flying. But you got it with the endless COVID staycation. We have ideas.

Playing on the trend of renting versus owning, car rental companies are offering subscription plans as an alternative to buying cars, and while not cheap, for regular users, there is value.

Hertz My Car is a popular offering in the subscription-based automotive space, offering subscribers three monthly subscription tiers starting at $599 per month for economy, $999 for full-size cars and small SUVs and trucks, and for $1,399 for luxury sedans, SUVs and large trucks. .

Hertz allows subscribers to trade in vehicles twice a month for other makes or models at their tier, and according to a press release, “The all-inclusive monthly subscription covers vehicle maintenance, roadside assistance, Limited Liability and Vehicle Damage Protection, which is limited to Level Two and Three. Vehicle Damage Protection is not included in Level 1”, but you can add it.

Such a deal. But where to go? The main gripe with some existing travel subscriptions is that they provide access to special rates, but not the room, car, or plane seat itself: you still have to pay for those. If you’re cool with it, go for it.

Alternatively, maybe drive this subscription rental car through an impressive national park.

The US National Parks Service’s America the Beautiful annual pass — an $80 flight in 2022 (less if you’re a veteran or senior) — allows entry to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.

According to an NPS blog, “Each pass covers entrance fees to National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges as well as standard amenity fees in National Forests and Grasslands, and on lands managed by the Bureau. of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers One pass covers admission, standard amenity fees, and daily use fees for one driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle in pay-per-vehicle areas” or four adults if daily charges apply.

Rental car subscription — check. National parks pass – got it. All that’s holding you back now is pandemic inertia. Guess what: Until the next premier season of “The Witcher,” subscribe to some travel plan and hit the open road, or the sky, and often. You are subscribed now.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: THE CUSTOM PURCHASING EXPERIENCE STUDY – MAY 2022

About: PYMNTS’ survey of 2,094 consumers for The Tailored Shopping Experience report, a collaboration with Elastic Path, shows where merchants are succeeding and where they need to up their game to deliver a personalized shopping experience.

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