Accor just launched a travel subscription program — should you sign up?
The viability of the travel subscription model took a step forward this week when Paris-based Accor — the largest European hotelier and the owner of brands like Sofitel and Fairmont — rolled out a global plan called ALL Plus aimed at travelers who seek out budget hotels, as well as those who flock to upscale properties.
Usually, travel loyalty programs require members to stay nights, fly miles and spend money in order to move up the food chain. However, a travel subscription works under the “pay for perks” model: Users pay a fee to get several of the benefits usually reserved for certain loyalty program tiers.
One of the best-known examples to date is InterContinental Ambassador. Members pay $200 annually for benefits such as room upgrades, food and beverage credits, a complimentary weekend night stay at InterContinental properties and Platinum Elite status in IHG One Rewards for stays at other IHG hotels.
But will Accor’s new venture move the needle for travelers who haven’t tried out the French hotel company before? Company leaders don’t think this program is solely for travelers who live in Europe or South America (even though Accor has more hotels in these regions than in the U.S.).
“It's not a country of origin-centric product. It's a destination-centric product,” said Maxime Gareau, vice president of membership development at Accor. “It makes sense for anyone that is traveling in the region where we have the most hotels given the brands that are integrated into it."
ALL Plus and its new categories
Accor views its program as a loyalty accelerator fueling its Accor Live Limitless loyalty program. It divides the subscription offering, ALL Plus, into two categories that officially go into effect later this month.
ALL Plus Voyageur, the higher-end offering, provides members with a 20% discount across 10 of Accor’s luxury and premium hotel brands, as well as a 15% discount at nine of the company’s midscale and economy brands. ALL Plus Voyageur costs members 199 euros (about $210).
Brands included in ALL Plus Voyaguer are:
- Luxury: Sofitel, SO/ and Sofitel LEGEND.
- Premium: MGallery, 21c Museum Hotels, Mondrian, Pullman, Mövenpick, Grand Mercure and The Sebel.
- Midscale: Novotel, Mercure, Adagio and Tribe.
- Economy: Ibis Styles, Ibis and Ibis budget.
The company targets economy travelers with the ALL Plus Ibis card, which offers a 15% discount at Accor’s Ibis family of economy hotel brands. This membership tier costs 99 euros (about $105).
It's worth noting that only 19 of Accor's more than 40 brands are participating in ALL Plus at launch. Some of the company's best-known brands — such as Fairmont, Raffles and The Hoxton — aren't included.
While Accor has had region-specific subscription offerings for some time, this is the first time the company is offering it on a global scale. The new cards will work at 4,000 hotels across 100 countries. Other benefits of the new ALL Plus cards include priority booking at fully booked hotels and at least Silver status within the ALL loyalty program.
Unlike other subscription models or status match programs, ALL Plus will give members qualifying nights — hence why this is called a loyalty accelerator. Members higher up the ALL loyalty tier can use those nights to bump up to a higher tier. ALL Plus Voyageur members will receive 20 qualifying nights, while ALL Plus Ibis members will receive 10.
“We really wanted to develop this instead of a status match because it makes everybody happy,” Gareau said. “It’s to help those who are already Silver, and it will help those who are just discovering the program.”
Is it worth it?
Accor’s Silver status by itself isn’t going to pull in savvy points and miles travelers because its benefits are pretty standard entry-level fare: a welcome drink, late checkout and priority check-in.
However, guaranteed room availability two days before check-in, even at fully booked hotels, is a Platinum-level benefit from ALL; it's offered with both ALL Plus Voyageur and ALL Plus Ibis, so that’s a strong benefit to the new program.
As mentioned, the program skews more toward Accor brands with a significant presence outside the U.S. So, you probably won't regularly take advantage of ALL Plus unless you spend significant amounts of time in Europe and South America.
But 21c Museum Hotels, Mondrian and Sofitel each have several U.S. locations, while Novotel and Pullman have a smaller presence here.
Though some travelers might gravitate to InterContinental Ambassador over ALL Plus due to the higher status level with IHG One Rewards, a free weekend night and a greater degree of IHG presence in the U.S.
Still, ALL Plus is a strong sell for travelers, as it features so many more brands than the Ambassador program.
“We are pretty happy with the coverage we have, and it was quite a challenge,” Gareau said. “We only own 2% of our hotels, so we did convince a lot of hotels and brands because the rationale is really great for both hotels and customers.”
ALL Plus could be valuable to travelers who have longer trips planned for Europe, Latin America or South America. It's also worth considering if you want to explore some of the brand’s offerings and immediately get loyalty perks.
The subscription's fixed discounts are a strong selling point, even though all travelers can get a 2% to 10% discount on stays, depending on the property, just by signing up for Accor's loyalty program.
A four-night stay next month at Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo in Panama, one of TPG’s most-anticipated hotels of 2023, would go for $1,180.80 for an oceanview king room. With the ALL Plus Voyageur 20% discount on the best daily rate, a member only pays $944.64. That $236.16 in savings already exceeds the membership cost.
It's not a bad way to nab a discount during King Charles III's coronation in May using the ALL Plus Ibis card. A stay at the Ibis London City - Shoreditch runs $266.61 a night for a long weekend stay from May 4-7. However, an ALL Plus Ibis member would only pay $226.62 a night. That is nearly $120 in savings after three nights, so it more than makes up for the ALL Plus Ibis membership cost in one stay.
It’s also worth noting that many Ibis hotels are pet-friendly, so ALL Plus Ibis is a good option if you’re traveling with a four-legged companion.
The membership is a no-brainer if you’re a frequent Accor guest looking to vault up the ALL loyalty tiers. If you bought both the Voyageur and Ibis cards from ALL Plus, that’s 30 status nights to go toward building loyalty, according to Gareau. Combining both ALL Plus cards is enough to unlock Gold status, which includes room upgrades and either early check-in or late checkout.
U.S. travelers aren't likely to see much day-to-day value from ALL Plus. Still, it's worth considering if you have an upcoming trip to a country where Accor dominates the hotel scene or if there’s an Accor hotel you’ve been eager to visit. The cost savings of a single stay might make buying into ALL Plus worth it.
Keep an eye on the ALL Plus discounts, though. While the 20% Voyageur discount on luxury and premium hotels may seem like a lot, you already get as much as 10% off a rate just by being a nonpaying ALL member. Do the math, look around for additional promotions and discounts, and see what ends up working best for you.