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 many hours to comb through booking options for the right offer, especially in the new world of fast-disappearing travel deals. Enter travel subscription services, also known as travel clubs, which make it possible to offload that task for a set monthly or annual fee. Such online travel subscriptions have been rising in popularity—with several new services launched in recent weeks—but not all are created equal.
Companies including Tripadvisor and airfare alert site Scott's Cheap Flights have rolled out new travel club subscription services that offer deals exclusively for paying members. The new Tripadvisor Plus offers reduced hotel and activity bookings (as well as perks like free rental car upgrades and a Dollar Flight Club membership) for $99 per year. Scott's Cheap Flights' new Premium and Elite subscription tiers alert members to either economy or business-class fares for $49 or $200 per year, respectively. And then there are the top-dollar travel membership providers, like Inspirato, which offers luxury travel experiences for $600 to $2,500 per month, the latter of which includes all nightly rates, taxes, and fees in your monthly dues.
The main appeal of membership-structured deal clubs, experts say, is that they afford you deals that can't be listed for the general public online—rates that are typically better than any deal website's. “There are rates that are not to be promoted or distributed in a mass-market situation," says Mike Putman, CEO of Custom Travel Solutions, a business-travel provider that works with dozens of existing travel clubs. The services that provide those deals, Putman says, “require they only be distributed to membership organizations, which are paying for the right to them.” So it's clear you're paying for exclusive travel prices that often can't be found elsewhere.
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