‘Netflix for holidays’ could be the new way to get away from it all
We are all desperate to travel as much as possible post-lockdown. Could subscription services be the solution to cheap travel? With subscription services for everything from bath products and coffee now on offer, the travel industry is getting in on the action too.
Cropping up all over the world, these services – including citizenM membership, Alaska Airlines Flight Pass and new start-up Ultimate Travel Club – promise to make travel cheaper so that you can get away more often for less cash – think Netflix for your holidays. Even car rental companies have subscription offers that could totally change the cost of a trip.
According to Mastercard Economics, flight bookings in UK grew to 40% above 2019 levels in the space of six weeks and UK travel spending has grown month on month in 2022. So, as the cost of living rises exponentially, could subscription services be the solution for our travel cost woes?
How do they help you save?
Subscription services allow companies to charge a regular fee at recurring intervals. The idea is that it’s convenient for the customer, while also allowing companies to grow with confidence in their income.
By doing this, they aim to be able to offer better deals in the long run due to better long-term relationships with consumers and businesses. Ultimate Travel Club – who charge £99 a year for their service and claim to be able to save more than 60% of your holiday costs – say there are ‘more than one million hotels and ABTA and ATOL protected holidays’ [on their site] to choose from and they charge no additional fees and makes no profit from bookings.
Instead members pay trade prices – and the company say the £99 “could be recouped several times over by making a booking”. Essentially, with your subscription covering the running costs, services like this are able to give the full discount without a cut, making this a pretty simple way to save.
Savings can be made on different parts of a trip with these subscriptions too, with Ultimate Travel Club promising to provide discounts “for hotel rooms, property rental, car hire and cruises plus extras such as airport lounge access, 50% off restaurants, discounts on days out and 30% off cinema tickets”.
How much money can you save?
Subscription services offer hefty savings – over 60% in some cases – making the amount of bang you get for your buck, pretty impressive. Ultimate Travel Club claim their subscription you could save almost £1,000 for a holiday booked through them this week, for example, at an all-inclusive resort in Dominican Republic, a mountain view retreat in Iceland and a four-star hotel in Paris.
Alaska Airways was one of the first airlines to offer a subscription and $49 (£39) per month lets you take frequent and flexible flights.
What’s the catch?
There are pros and cons. Your travel may well end up being dictated by these deals, which is great if those destinations are where you want to go, but if you want to go somewhere different, you may end up paying the usual price. Similarly with flights and restaurants, your choice may be limited by the offer.
However Naveen Dittakavi, founder and CEO of subscription service Next Vacay (nextvacay.com), says: “Anyone that has planned a trip knows how difficult it is to find the best deals out there – from searching for the cheapest airfares to working out your traveller budget. It’s a lot of time and commitment for the average person to plan, which is why subscription services offer plenty of benefits.”
The help with organising and ensuring you’re staying within budget could really appeal to those of us who are time-poor.
He claims: “Even if you book just one flight, you’ll likely make back the sign-up fee in savings compared to if you booked last minute or directly through the airline. Not only do subscription services help find the cheapest flights in the world, but you also won’t have to worry that you got something mixed up while browsing travel deal sites. Instead, the deals are delivered to you directly and correctly.
“Ultimately, you’re paying for a team of people to search constantly for you. If you are looking to save on flights so that you can spend more at your destination either on your hotel, upgraded experiences or simply affording to stay at your destination for longer – then this is for you.”
So, if you have all the time in the world to find money-saving holiday deals, or have your heart set on something very specific for your next break, you may not want to pigeon-hole yourself to the offers on subscription sites. However if you’re short on time and open to suggestions on where your next break could be – a subscription service might very well save you some cash.
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