VIP access and hotel discounts: our guide to travel subscriptions, from Tripadvisor to Opodo
The idea of a PG Wodehouse Reginald Jeeves-style concierge/travel butler arranging our escapades might sound idyllic. Let someone else, an expert, with the best of intentions, handle the details of your trip abroad.
All very well, and with this in mind a host of travel clubs have sprung up, with subscriptions required. What exactly do they offer? Are they about to revolutionize the way we travel abroad? Or is it better to organize your own trips?
Here is our guide.
A host of travel clubs have sprung up, with subscriptions required. Are they about to revolutionize the way we travel abroad?
JOIN LIKE-LIKE TYPES
You must have certain (unspecified) credentials to be accepted as a member of the Well Traveled Club, created for a ‘community of like-minded travellers’. You explain what type of trip you like and the people who manage the site will accept or reject your request.
Once ‘in’, you pay an annual fee of £113, which gives you access to a one-to-one booking service, recommendations ‘curated to suit your travel style’ and the possibility of room upgrades, free breakfasts and ‘ VIP welcome gifts’ in hotels. Special room rates are offered and you can expect to save around £75 by booking a weekend.
The Well Traveled Club was founded in the US in 2020 by Samantha Patil and Casi Hough. Many of the early members have been women, although it addresses everyone. Online reviews from other members are given. The idea is that you can trust these reviews as ‘online influencers’ are left out.
KNOW MORE: welltraveledclub.com
IT’S WORTH IT? Yes, if you use it enough. . . and you are accepted to join, of course.
It’s not fully set up yet, but it’s coming soon: a premium membership-based form of Tripadvisor, which is considered to be the world’s largest travel website (founded in 2000 in Massachusetts).
Details are scant, but the annual fee for Tripadvisor Plus, as it will become known, is advertised at £75 and the service promises to offer deals on hundreds of thousands of hotels, plus a 10 per cent discount on attractions. There is a 90-day free trial.
Tripadvisor’s entry into the subscription travel model would seem to be a clear sign that this growing trend seems destined to stay. The website says there will be savings of up to £670 on a four-night hotel stay in Los Cabos in Mexico or £306 for a three-night stay in Palm Beach, Florida.
KNOW MORE: tripadvisor.com/plus
IT’S WORTH IT? No one can say for sure without more details, but it’s likely to offer good savings if you make repeat bookings.
HEY BIG SPENDERS
Inspirato organizes vacations in destinations such as Lake Tahoe (in the photo), the British Virgin Islands and Saint Barthelemy
Inspirato is a US-based website aimed at wealthy travelers that has been around for 11 years. A monthly contribution of £1,860 is required, plus a registration fee of £1,860. So what do you get for this? Inspirato promises ‘first-class service from a dedicated team of experts’ under the motto ‘it’s time to vacation better’.
The experts organize your vacation once you choose from a wide range of private homes, ‘luxury hotels and unique travel experiences’. There are more than a million trips available, many in the US Choose from lodgings by Lake Tahoe, villas in the British Virgin Islands and boutique hotels in St Barts.
KNOW MORE: inspirato.com
IT’S WORTH IT? If you have a lot of money and want someone else to organize your vacation then maybe this is for you.
FLY FOR LESS
Opodo has set up a subscription membership known as Opodo Prime, which costs £59.99 a year, although the first 30 days are free. It promises discounts on all flights and, when we checked, it highlighted return flights from London to Palermo, Sicily, from £17 (previously £38) and return flights to New York from £377 (previously £425). ). Deals of up to 50 percent off hotels are also offered and there is a toll-free customer service line that operates 24/7. There are already two million Opodo Prime members.
KNOW MORE: opodo.es/prime
IT’S WORTH IT? It might be worth trying the free trial period to see if it suits you.
CHEAPER BEDS FOR THE NIGHT
Mr & Mrs Smith offer 20 percent off a stay at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek in South Africa
Mr & Mrs Smith was founded in 2003 by James and Tamara Lohan. It offers loyalty points for reservations to cheapen future rooms, as well as a ‘gift’, known as a ‘Smith Extra’, on arrival, which could be a free spa treatment, champagne or museum tickets.
Current deals include a three-night stay for the price of two at the L’Andana hotel in Tuscany (now from £209 a night B&B) and a 20 per cent discount at Leeu Estates in Franschhoek, South Africa. The best? The subscription is free.
KNOW MORE: mrandmrssmith.com
IT’S WORTH IT? Definitely worth a look – their choice of hotels is well informed.
OFFERS IN LUXURY HOTELS
Co-founded by Maya Poulton, former director of marketing for Mr & Mrs Smith (see Cheaper Beds For The Night), Safara promises to offer savings on carefully selected boutique hotels around the world. It’s still in development, but you can join a waiting list.
The appeal of Safara, which will have an annual rate of £175, lies in the expert selection of super-stylish hotels that draw the “crowd” as well as the special room rates. Members will also receive 10 percent back on every booking in the form of credit with Safara to use on future bookings.
KNOW MORE: safari.travel
IT’S WORTH IT? If you’re a ‘hotel junkie’ who loves to check out the latest places and wants to save money, this may be for you.
The Ultimate Travel Club, which has an annual fee of £99, is the UK’s leading travel subscription club, it says. After signing up, you have access to savings of up to 40 percent at more than 900,000 hotels. There are also member discounts on cruises, car rentals and travel insurance. If you’re a foodie, the 25 per cent discount at over 6,000 restaurants in the UK can also be attractive.
Holidays with full ATOL protection are offered. Examples include a 28 per cent savings at Sicily’s Grand Palladium Hotel (seven nights from £761 B&B with flights) as well as a 38 per cent discount at London’s New Linden Hotel (from £110 B&B). for two nights).
KNOW MORE: ultimatetravelclub.com
IT’S WORTH IT? Absolutely, especially if you use it regularly.