Will Travel Points and Miles Be Replaced by Subscriptions?

Travel subscriptions are becoming more common in the travel industry.  There are subscriptions covering everything from your arrival at the airport, to your hotel stay, and activities in between.  We believe that subscriptions are becoming increasingly attractive in an inflationary environment.  This article discusses the growth and recent trends in the travel subscription economy.

 

The Growth of Travel Subscriptions

More travel-related companies are offering subscription-based services. For example, 27% of hotels worldwide are now offering, or are considering offering, subscription services.  That compares to 12% in 2020 and 24% pre-pandemic.[1]  At the same time, nearly 17.4% of all adults in the United States subscribed to at least one travel-related service. [1]

 

A recent study showed that patent activity for travel subscriptions reached 7,936 in 2021, registering a 10.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4% over the 2017-2021 period.

 

A Way to Beat Inflation?

In our last article on travel, we highlighted airlines offering subscription packages, such as Alaska Airlines.  Such programs allow individuals to book a certain number of flights for a given price and may help to offset rising airfares. In the same way, other subscription packages, such as for hotels, may offer the same benefit.

 

From Arrival at the Airport

Subscription-based services may help travelers navigate the airport.  For example, for $85 for five years, travelers can enroll in TSA Pre-Check.  This service offers a separate security line for individuals, and a simplified security process where travelers do not have to remove their shoes, take their laptops out of their bags, and allows them to carry liquids.  CLEAR will allow you to jump the normal security line at select US airports for $15 per month.  The service will also allow you to bypass security at select US stadiums.

 

Car Rental

Many car rental companies, such as Hertz and Enterprise, are offering subscriptions that allow individuals to rent cars for a given monthly fee.  Depending on the pricing tier purchased, individuals may have long-term access to vehicles, and the ability to switch vehicles twice a month. The plans often include maintenance, roadside assistance, and insurance.  Given that there is no long-term commitment, this may serve as a substitute for leasing a car.

 

Hotel Programs

Many hotels are now offering subscription services including, luxury travel brand Inspirato, through which individuals may have access to luxury beach villas and city penthouses.  Many hotels are targeting remote workers, or digital nomads, through these programs.

 

Activities In-Between

The US National Park Service has long offered subscription packages with their “America the Beautiful” pass.  For an $80 annual fee, visitors are allowed free entry to over 2,000 federal recreation sites.

 

Subscriptions Instead of Points and Miles

The travel industry has embraced the subscription pricing model.  This may offer travelers the convenience of discounted pricing, select perks, and a way to beat travel inflation.

 

How may individuals gain potential exposure to companies offering subscription models?

 

The Fount Subscription Economy ETF (SUBS)

The Fount Subscription Economy ETF (SUBS) seeks to provide investment results that, before fees and expenses, generally correspond to the total return performance of the Fount Subscription Economy Index.  The Index was designed to measure the performance of companies engaged in the business of providing subscription services, i.e., companies that sell products or services for recurring subscription revenue.

 

SUBS invests in companies that offer subscription-based pricing models, including those in the travel industry.

 

 

For a list of fund holdings, please click here.

 

 


[1] Statista, March 2022

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Bong-Geun Choi Chief Economist

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