£99 holiday subscription claims to offer ‘trade prices’

The cost of living crisis is prompting many to cut down on luxuries such as streaming services and takeaway coffee. 

But after two years of Covid lockdowns, many of those who can afford it are still planning to spend money on a holiday. 

With the average week-long holiday set to cost UK holidaymakers around £1,000 per person, holidaymakers will be looking to get the best deals possible for their upcoming trips.

© Provided by This Is Money Ultimate Travel Club, a new subscription-based travel firm, says it offers members access to holidays for trade prices, with as much as 60% discount available

Some may be tempted by a new subscription service called Ultimate Travel Club, which, for a £99 annual fee, claims to offer them ‘trade prices’ on their holidays. 

But how does it work and is it too good to be true? 

The start-up travel company says it offers discounts of around 40 per cent on a range of holidays, flights and additional travel items. 

The exclusive discounts are reportedly offered at trade prices, which would mean customers wouldn’t pay the commission or overhead costs charged by traditional travel firms. 

The subscription costs £99 for 12 months, although it is currently offering a free trial. 

‘As a start-up we don’t have the legacy costs and overheads associated with more established travel companies,’ Brent Norton, the boss of Ultimate Travel Club said. 

‘This means we can operate with a very different business model, which can provide incredible value to customers.’

Subscriptions to travel services are becoming more popular, from the discount flight subscription Jack’s Flight Club, to luxury travel accommodation pass, Inspirato.

A look at the UTC website shows it covers both ends of the market, with a range of affordable and luxury holidays at marked-down prices.

But are the prices really better than those you could get elsewhere?  

I took a look at some of the more popular holiday destinations and peak travel times to compare prices on a range of package holidays.

I looked at booking an all inclusive, seven-night stay at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach in Jamaica, comparing UTC’s to those offered by Expedia and Booking.com.

At the end of September, flying from London Heathrow, you could get an all inclusive stay for two for a total of £1,342 per person via UTC. 

On Expedia, the same hotel, flights and dates would set you back £1,437 each, or £1,451 on Booking.com – meaning you could be save up to £200 on your overall trip. 

This would more than cover the £99 yearly subscription in just one holiday.

But for shorter stays, holidaymakers may need to jet off more than once to get your money’s worth. 

Closer to home, I looked at a 3-night city break for two, travelling from Luton to the 3-star Hotel Sant Agusti in Barcelona at the end of July.

The trip is available for £787 for the hotel and two flights through Expedia, with a small saving of £15 overall if you booked through UTC. 

But, the same trip is more expensive through UTC than Booking.com, which is currently going for £738.

In this instance, you would be better off to book through Booking.com. 

However, it is worth noting that UTC is currently offering to cover the difference if you find your trip advertised cheaper through another provider. 

As well as flights and hotels, UTC says subscribers can save up to 25 per cent on dining out at thousands of UK restaurants, 30 per cent on cinema tickets, plus 50 per cent on days out in the UK. 

The membership is currently only able to be paid in one lump sum, though UTC has said it is looking to introduce monthly memberships in the near future. 

You also get around 2 per cent ‘cashback’ on your bookings, which can be saved up and to get further discounts in the future.

© Provided by This Is Money Cheap deals? UTC says it is the cheapest place to book a holiday online. Although we found one holiday for less on Booking.com, UTC says it will refund the difference

According to UTC’s  website, traditional travel businesses make their money by adding as much as 40 per cent commission to the rates they get from suppliers.

By charging customers an upfront yearly fee instead, Ultimate Travel Club says it is able to offer better rates than its competitors. 

Though as our quick check confirmed, this might not always be the case so it is still worth shopping around. 

Norton added: ‘The cost of living increases are bound to have an effect on many people’s budgets, and sadly I think it’s a reality that this year some people are going to have to sacrifice their annual holiday.

‘More than ever, people are looking for value, so I can’t think of a better time to offer consumers a product that will help them save significantly on their travel. 

‘We have many examples of members saving £800 or more on a single trip.’