Skift Take

Travel companies such as CitizenM, Sixt, Trafalgar, Manifest, Bidroom, Upgrade Pack, eDreams Odigeo, and Selina are dabbling in pay-by-month subscriptions. Early signs are promising.

The pandemic has changed consumer behavior in several ways, helping to fuel scattered experiments with subscription-based travel products. Hotel groups, car rental brands, tour operators, upgrade services, lifestyle membership clubs, and other travel companies are testing whether people are willing to treat travel like a Netflix or HelloFresh account, where temporary, on-demand access is more appealing than paying full prices upfront. Exhibit A is CitizenM, the Amsterdam-based brand with 21 properties worldwide that debuted this month two subscription plans. Its "global passport" offers travelers the chance to buy a block of nightly stays at any property at a discounted rate of $50 (€50) a night. Stays must last between 7 and 30 consecutive nights, and travelers must apply to be one of the roughly 1,000 participants. CitizenM's new corporate subscription offers flexible use of hotel facilities beyond the guest rooms. A business traveler can work in any lobby, reserve a meeting room, or stay for three nights with breakfast at any of the brand's properties for $600 (€500) a month, or through a discounted annual pass. The moves by CitizenM bring to mind one of Skift's megatrends in 2020, namely, that subscription travel would be the next frontier of loyalty. The pandemic has hurt travel company revenues, prompting some to experiment with new models. Skift looked earlier this month at brands like Inspirato and BeRightBack that aim to be like a Netflix of travel, with everything included. But hybrid and partial subscription models are more common. Car Rental by Subscription A case in point is car rental agency Sixt, which has a fleet of more than 280,000 vehicles worldwide.