A few readers have asked what I thought of Inspirato, a luxury travel subscription service. I did some investigating and found that for a very narrow audience it may present value but most won’t.
What Is Inspirato?
No, not Esperanto, the constructed language that no one really speaks. Inspirato is a luxury travel subscription service that aims to deliver superior value to wealthy customers. Inspirato has a substantial number of vacation homes and hotel rooms (they call them trips) available for stays of 2-60 nights each. The luxury accommodations vary from studio apartments in Hong Kong to palatial estates in Mexico.
They advertise their “Pass” subscription as $2,500 per month. Yes and no. The initial commitment is six months paid monthly then followed by a rolling monthly subscription and a 30-day termination policy. That’s $15,000 to get the party started before you know whether or not you’ll find true value. There is also a $2,500 initiation fee in addition to the monthly subscription fee but I suspect they had difficulty getting members to pay $2,500 initiation fees as they are often waived.
Other memberships are available but require at least one year of membership and seem to deliver varying levels of not much more. For example, their traditional membership is a little over $13,000/year but only provides for discounted rates on properties, there is still an ongoing nightly rate and taxes.
Before you book your next trip, this Inspirato review might be helpful.
Some sites boast luxury vacations and don’t deliver. This is one area in which Inspirato executes. It’s true that Inspirato’s collection of luxury homes and vacation rentals are stunning homes and Inspirato displays them nicely. I was looking for some average accommodations and in truth, every example I saw looked above average. Some of the pricing included might have been somewhat exaggerated for homestay rates depending on the day you check, but it wasn’t wildly out of range given the verifiable properties I compared.
They offer some concierge services to more closely emulate a luxury hotel experience but nothing more than what any premium credit cardholder might be able to find by dialing a number found on the back of their card (arranging flights, cars, etc.) They do offer an advantage over Airbnb properties in their local concierge teams and fridge loading but many premium Airbnb properties offer that too. But those products and services offered alone wouldn’t be enough to justify the cost for pass holders.
I spoke with a rep from the company who helped me navigate some through their sites and the offering. He was either misinformed or fed mistruths that was easy to verify or refute.
For example, he claimed that the properties available on the service were exclusive to the brand for 3-5 years and wouldn’t be found elsewhere. I was able to confirm with another rep that the hotel listings and some others may not be exclusive but for the most part, the homes are leased for multi-year terms and not offered elsewhere.
It could be partially truthful but misleading if for example, they had exclusive residential suites at the St. Regis Madives for example. But there’s not much to indicate that there would be much if any difference between what could be booked elsewhere and what could be secured through the program. Their only destination in Asia is a studio hotel room at the Upper House in Hong Kong. A premium hotel to be sure, but not something I couldn’t book on another site.
According to the rep, 150,000 “trips” have been booked since they opened over the summer, but that’s also not accurate. Inspirato calls their accommodations “trips” instead of stays, perhaps because this is how their customers will see them, and also because they offer cruises as well. Rather, the service has about 800 members (fewer to compete with for reservations) and the service offers 106,000 properties another rep confirmed.
Other program information/limitations that prospective members should know:
- Pass members must have at least seven days between trips.
- They can book only one reservation at a time.
- Maximum stays are 60 days
- Couple qualifies for one pass
Who Will Find Value and Who Will Not?
This program is perfect for the recently retired road warrior with millions of miles stashed and complete flexibility with their schedule. The independently wealthy will also find value or those who intend to travel long term and will spend $2500/month or more on accommodations anyway.
I looked at some trips my family and friends have taken and some that we have planned. We simply do not spend $30,000/year on accommodations. We also use hotel points to offset our costs which would make it tough for a program like this to compare even with lesser accommodations and a smaller price tag.
Those who live in a major hub with affordable flights, especially like Fort Lauderdale could find incredible value by flying discounters though there seems to be some reasonable level of irony by stepping off a Spirit flight to be whisked away to an exclusive Costa Rican villa.
Some who purchased timeshares may consider joining Inspirato, though finding consistency will be a different challenge.
I love the innovation that the Inspirato Pass offers. For the right kind of customer, this can be a great value, though it seems to be a limited market at best even at the luxury end. I would love to try it for myself but even if I thought that I could find more than $2500/month consistently in value, I still would have trouble committing to six months upfront before I knew it would work for me. The last salesperson I spoke with suggested there would be a Black Friday sale (seven months for the price of six) but it wasn’t enticing enough for me to sign up.
What do you think? Does this seem like something you’d find value in? Is it an over-priced club for the rich and ridiculous?