Have you ever wished you had an assistant to research and book the best travel deals for you? From plane tickets to hotel stays, it can take several hours to comb through booking options for the right deal, especially in the new world of travel deals that are quickly disappearing. Enter travel subscription services, also called travel clubs, which allow you to offload this task for a monthly or annual fee. These online travel subscriptions are growing in popularity, with several new services launched in recent weeks, but not all are created equal.
Companies including Tripadvisor and airfare alert site Cheap flights from Scott rolled out new travel club membership services that offer offers exclusively to paying members. New Tripadvisor More offers discounted hotel and activity reservations (plus perks like free rental car upgrades and Dollar Flight Club membership) for $ 99 per year. The new Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium and Elite Membership levels alert members to economy or business class fares for $ 49 or $ 200 per year, respectively. And then there are the more expensive travel subscription providers, like Inspired, which offers luxury travel experiences for $ 600 to $ 2,500 per month, the latter including all overnight rates, taxes and fees in your monthly dues.
The main attraction of structured membership offer clubs, experts say, is that they give you offers that cannot be listed for the general public online – rates that are generally better than any website. ‘offers. âThere are tariffs that should not be promoted or distributed in a mass market situation,â says Mike Putnam, CEO of Personalized travel solutions, a business travel provider that works with dozens of existing travel clubs. The services that provide these offerings, Putnam says, “require that they be distributed only to member organizations, who pay for the rights.” So it is clear that you are paying for exclusive travel prices which often cannot be found elsewhere.
But can you get your membership money back to save money, and fast? For memberships that charge a modest fee (around $ 200 or less per year), the answer seems to be yes. Willis Orlando, a member operations specialist for Scott’s Cheap Flights paid services, says it’s his job to find the wrong fares that make a Premium or Elite membership worthwhile. âA lot of people don’t have the time or the energy to look for great deals on airline tickets, but I’m lucky to get paid to do just that,â Orlando says. He’s part of a three-person team that searches for flight deals, the best of which are only a fraction of their usual price – averaging around $ 800, Orlando says. Business or First Class fares are typically between $ 1,200 and $ 1,700 instead of the typical $ 2,500 premium ticket.
While Scott’s Cheap Flights is an airline ticket-only subscription, there are hotel and experience subscriptions for those who travel less often. Abigail A., a Connecticut based great traveller and blogger who signed up for Tripadvisor Plus in June, says she has already recouped her annual fee of $ 99 in savings. Her first booking, a domestic work trip to New York City, saved her about $ 200 on a weekend hotel stay, compared to prices listed elsewhere on the internet. Abigail says she chose Tripadvisor Plus because it is offering cancellation (for a complete refund) within 30 days of signing up if you’re not happy with the deals, but she sticks to her membership with the hotel savings she found. Tripadvisor said in a statement that its Plus plan saves members an average of $ 350 per hotel stay and that “most members recoup the annual fee on their very first trip.”