If we can sign up for something like Apocabox – should the world end with a schedule of projected monthly recurring billing – why can’t we sign up for more travel services? This market gap is widening, but it won’t last much longer because subscriptions are going on holiday.
JetBlue introduced it this way back in 2009 as its “All-You-Can-Jet” program, which, to its credit, eventually ended—it now exists only as a sweepstakes where lucky pilots can win passes.
United Airlines has taken up the challenge a few years later with its United subscription offerings, although those are about things like airport lounge access and extra legroom. All the best, but we want more.
This was all before the subscription boom of 2020 accelerated the pace of a love affair that had been slowly forming for over a decade, but didn’t quite get there. She needed a boost. Now, we’re seeing an increase in travel subscriptions, with airlines, rental car fleets and lodgings securing recurring revenue to boost cash flow and inspire loyalty as few models do.
The first to enter the fray in 2022 was Alaska Airlines, announcing its new Flight Pass subscription service in the first quarter. Plans start at $49 per month, allowing members to travel “up to 24 round trips annually to the most popular routes within California, plus non-stop service from California airports to Reno, Phoenix and Las Vegas, for a fixed monthly price,” he said.
Alaska Airlines is promoting Flight Pass as “a new way to travel that allows travelers to strike key cabin deals for a full year and rewards subscribers at below-average rates on eligible flights.”
On Thursday (June 9), NerdWallet reported that “Instead of trying to be everything to every traveler, the Alaskan subscription has focused on a tight spot: younger Californians with plenty of roaming and schedule flexibility. So far, just under half Subscribers are Millennials or Generation Zers, according to Alaska.”
This is a win for millennials on the West Coast, but what about the rest of us?
luxury you want in
Luxury travel subscription service Inspirato Thursday announced the launch of its new subscription service, Inspirato Select. For a meager investment of $24,000 a year (and don’t forget the $2,000 registration fee), members can choose from half a million fantastic rides. And what could those nosebleeds be priced at?
Impressive press release with “A Long Weekend in a Five-Star Penthouse in New York City, Four Nights in a Million Dollar Four-Bedroom Residence at a Luxurious Resort in Los Cabos, Six-Bedroom Ocean Villa with Private Pool for… Four nights in the British Virgin Islands, nine perfect nights in a suite at one of Chicago’s leading five-star hotels”, and “a four-bedroom accommodation for a five-night stay in the heart of Vail Village, Colorado”.
It seems great. You might be wondering, “Can I reserve those who haven’t spent $24,000 a year to get access through a specific site?” Sure, you can, but Inspirato sells luxury, flexible, and convertible travel packages. For the upscale holiday maker, that might 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 several ways: They can enjoy their selected trips themselves or gift them to family and friends. They can also use Select Trips for their business to incentivize employees. Reward, reward and retain outstanding people, thank key colleagues and partners, and hold off-site meetings.”
As Netflix and other streaming platforms move to stop account sharing among unsubscribed viewers across extended families, luxury travel sees it as an added value. It has to be. But then, the dynamics of travel loyalty change, along with everything else.
In May, The New York Times quoted Adam Leventer, author of The Subscription Boom: Why the Legacy Business Model is the Future of Commerce, as saying, “Travel and tourism has historically been associated with free points or free mileage programs. Through paid programs, customers are incentivized On spending because they have an edge in the game.”
Parks, car registration and rental subscriptions
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 infinite stay of COVID. We have ideas.
Playing with the rent-to-own trend, car rental companies offer subscription plans as an alternative to buying cars, and while they aren’t cheap, there is value for regular users.
Hertz My Car is a popular offering in the subscription car space, giving subscribers three monthly subscription tiers starting at $599 per month for economy, $999 for full-size cars, small SUVs and trucks, and $1,399 for luxury sedans, SUVs and trucks the big one.
Hertz allows subscribers to trade in vehicles twice per month for other makes or models in its class, and according to a press release, “The all-inclusive monthly subscription covers vehicle maintenance, roadside assistance, limited liability protection and vehicle damage, which is limited to Level Two and Three. Vehicle damage protection is not included in Tier One”, but you can add them.
Such a deal. But where do we go? The main complaint with some of the current travel subscriptions is that they give access to special rates, but not the room, car, or plane seat itself: you still have to pay for them. If you’re cool with that, go for it.
If not, you can probably drive your joint rental car to an amazing national park.
The US National Park Service’s Annual Beautiful America Pass — an $80 steal in 2022 (lower if you’re a senior or veteran) — allows entry to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.
According to the NPS blog, “Each permit covers entry fees into national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard facility fees in national forests and grasslands, and on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the US Army of Engineers. The permit covers entry, standard facility fees, and fees for Daily use of the driver and all passengers in the personal vehicle as per each vehicle’s fee areas or four adults if daily fees apply.
Car rental subscription – check. National parks pass – got it. All that’s holding you back now is the pandemic stalemate. Guess what: Until the next season premiere of The Witcher, sign up for a travel plan of some sort and hit the open road, or sky, more often than not. You are now subscribed.