This is an interview with Katherine Strauss, the VP of Public Relations for Inspirato, one of the leading destination clubs. I asked Katherine to help me understand what Inspirato offers families and how they differ from the other leading Destination Clubs.
There have been quite a few luxury destination clubs that have made the news over the years. Your tag line says “Exceptional Experience. Extraordinary Value.” What does this mean?
Our founders created Exclusive Resorts in 2002 and pioneered the original Destination Club industry model. After leaving Exclusive Resorts, our founders were determined to do things differently so they created Inspirato in January 2011, the first club that uses the leasing versus ownership for featured properties, which leads to cost savings for members.
What is the Inspirato pricing model?
There’s a one-time initiation fee, plus an annual fee. Unlike other clubs, there are no long-term commitments or obligations beyond the annual fee. The initiation fee is non-transferable, but it does allow members to travel with immediate family.
We also recently launched a program called Jaunt, allowing members to be spontaneous and book homes that have last minute availability. One of our members was taking a motorcycle trip and had no hotels booked. He was able to stay in amazing luxury homes along the way.
Every Wednesday an email goes out with a list of the properties available that Friday. Members can stay one to fourteen nights.
What is the profile of your members?
Inspirato members vacation several times a year. We encourage our members to travel as often as possible! We offer 172 vacation options in 51 international destinations and the list is growing every day. Some members still go to the same favorites or they can try new places.
There is no limit the number of vacation nights a family can book in a given year.
What are the average nightly rates?
The nightly rates fluctuate based on availability and the time of year. For a family of 4 to 5 people the average nightly rate for a non-holiday stay is $800 a night or less. Average nightly rates for holiday periods are around $1,200.
What other value do you offer your members?
We work with a rich selection of partners. Our service list includes access to top-notch golf courses, sports clubs, alumni clubs, as well as discounts on things like ground transportation.
We also host members-only events. We organized a private screening of Paranorman by Focus Films for parents and children. It was a fun event with a red carpet for the kids.
We personalize the Inspirato experience as much as possible for our members. They can book online or choose to work with a personal vacation advisor who will get to know their family preferences and ensure homes are stocked with the right age-appropriate games and toys. We are also optimizing our interface for mobile phones so member can plan and engage with Inspirato right from their phones.
Where is your staff located?
The bulk of our personal vacation advisors work out of Denver, however, there is an onsite concierge available onsite at all Inspirato destinations.
We have an employee policy that allows all of our personnel to travel to an Inspirato home and check out one of our vacations. This ensures everyone understands what our members experience, enabling them to provide better service
What is your current membership number?
We have over 2,100 members right now. Maintaining availability is essential so we have an equation in place that ensures that our members can always find open inventory. Because our model is leasing-based versus ownership-based, we’re able to quickly ramp up and down inventory based on our member demand. This is a big differentiator for us.
What do you offer that is special for families?
50% of our members are families with kids at home. Our top priority is to ensure that our staff is mindful of creating an exceptional travel experience for children too.
We go out of our way to source amazing, memorable adventures that are thoroughly vetted ahead of time like swimming with dolphins on the beach or taking a special private tour of a local attraction.
Our philanthropy program called Inspired Giving is something we’re very excited about. We have designed a program where we can use vacations to raise money for non-profits by providing Inspirato vacations that can be auctioned off for a cause.
The winners of these packages are treated just like members when they travel with us. This program helps us give back to many of the communities we work with around the world. We’ve raised $1.5M for our non-profit partners and now have 300 families who have purchased packages and are traveling with the program! It’s a win/win for all involved …
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This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.