Would you pay a monthy fee towards your next vacation? Research has revealed that travel tops the list of growth sectors for subscription shopping in 2022. Jenny Southan reports

Research from OnePoll and eDreams ODIGEO, the world’s largest online travel company, has revealed that travel is the sector most likely to see subscription growth in the next year (both from existing and new members), with almost half of current subscribers saying they’d look to increase their spending this year.

Across all sectors, only 1 per cent of shoppers don’t consider themselves to be subscribers, while, despite cost of living pressures, 86 per cent of UK shoppers (90 per cent across all markets) said they have maintained or increased subscription spending in the last 12 months.

The research, conducted in May 2022, polled 10,000 shoppers in eight markets in North America and Europe including the UK, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Sweden. 2,000 UK shoppers were polled as part of the global survey.

Across all markets, almost half (47%) of existing subscribers to travel products said they would increase their subscription level over the next 12 months, higher than any other product category and despite current challenges facing households in terms of living costs.

A combined 90% of travel subscribers across all markets said they would increase or maintain their current travel subscription levels (47 per cent increase, 40 per cent maintain).

Only 9 per cent said they might consider decreasing the amount they spend on travel subscriptions.

The UK polling results similarly saw travel products top the list as the most likely product category to see growth from existing customers (44 per cent).

Travel was also top of the list for UK shoppers in terms of product categories where customers were most likely to either increase or maintain current subscription levels (90 per cent, with only 7 per cent suggesting they could decrease subscriptions in 2022).

At the same time, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of shoppers across all geographic markets who currently don’t subscribe to any travel products said they would consider a travel subscription this year.

Again, this was higher than any other product category. The next categories most likely to pick up new subscribers this year were food and beverage (22 per cent) and health, beauty and fitness (22 per cent).

Overall, the most popular subscription product category for consumers was entertainment, with 75 per cent of shoppers in the UK and across all international markets holding a live subscription to streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Despite recent reports of subscriber numbers dropping for streaming services, it doesn’t appear that entertainment enthusiasts have fallen out of love with Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime and other similar platforms.

The research shows that in the UK, 82 per cent of current subscribers to these services plan to increase their subscriptions levels (14 per cent) or maintain their current subscriptions at the same level (68 per cent).

Only 14 per cent said they were considering reducing their subscriptions to entertainment platforms suggesting streaming services could be experiencing a blip rather than the prospect of a major decline in popularity.

eDreams ODIGEO says it is the “pioneer of subscription shopping in the travel sector”. Its Prime service, which launched in 2017, offers access to exclusive deals, new and unique subscriber only products, discounted rates and fares, and dedicated customer services channels.

In the last 12 months, Prime has grown by 202 per cent and it was recently announced that the service had topped three million members for the first time.

In line with its belief that subscription shopping is the future for travel retailing, eDreams now expects 66 per cent of its total bookings to be made by subscribers by as early as 2025.

For that reason, the travel company is progressing a strategy to shift from a traditional transaction-based model to a company that’s sales are primarily based on subscriptions, setting itself the target of increasing membership to over seven million customers over coming years.

Dana Dunne, CEO, eDreams ODIGEO, says: “Subscriptions are the future of modern retailing, in all sectors not just travel. We have seen first-hand, through the growth of our Prime subscription service, how strong demand is to shop for travel products in this way.

“After two years of travel restrictions, people are desperate to get away, but are also acutely aware they need to tighten their monthly spending. Our Prime service, the world’s first travel subscription product, allows travellers to access discounted rates and special fares, lowering the costs of going on holiday or travelling for work.

“The savings on offer far eclipse the cost of the subscription, and customers also benefit from a faster, more intelligent, and more personalised service, which we know is what the majority of shoppers want from the brands they support.

“Recognising ongoing consumer demands for services that are more time and cost efficient, and offer greater personalisation, was why we pioneered subscription in the travel sector with Prime, and why we’re doubling down on this model, with the aim of it becoming the main method through which we engage with our customers by 2025.

“Prime’s growth has been significant. We now have three million members globally and expect continued growth in the years ahead, a trajectory which is supported the findings of this research.”

Subscription spending proving robust, evidencing consumers’ transition from pay as you go purchasers to a society of subscribers.

The eDreams/OnePoll study found that on average shoppers in all markets including the UK have an average of four subscriptions each.

Dunne says: “Product excellence isn’t enough to command customer loyalty anymore. People increasingly value a personalised service, cost savings and the convenience of having products delivered directly to their front door or inbox automatically.

“All of these characteristics are unique benefits of subscription services designed to provide individual experiences that save members time and money. While these evolving consumer preferences have been developing over the last decade, our transformation from pay-as-you-go purchasers to a society of subscribers was sent into overdrive as being able to buy goods and services in this way helped millions of households tackle the extreme challenges of the 2020s, from the pandemic to lockdown, and now the cost of living crisis.

“What this survey shows is perhaps the clearest example yet of a fundamental shift in shopping habits; only 1 per cent of consumers today don’t engage with subscriptions at all. It’s a huge sign of how important this model of retailing is already, and how central it will be to how we shop in the future.

“We have known for some time that the mindset of shoppers has been shifting in favour of subscription services over traditional retailing, which is why we’re already well underway with our transition into a company that predominantly operates as a subscription service. We believe this is absolute fundamental to ensuring future growth for our business by satisfying our customers evolving preferences.”