“We hadn’t planned on opening Santa Barbara, San Diego and Phoenix until January, but demand in our initial markets has exceeded expectations,” said Jeff Potter, Founder and CEO of Manifest. “Even in the midst of COVID-19, many of us are still searching for moments of excitement and discovery but in destinations much closer to home. What we are offering – small group trips, U.S. destinations, private plane travel – really resonates with what travelers want right now.”
Recent data supports the demand for travel clubs and experiences like Manifest. Experiential travel was widely acknowledged as the fastest growing sector in the leisure travel space pre-COVID-19 with Skift Research’s U.S. Affluent Traveler Survey finding that 67% of affluent travelers would rather spend their money on activities than on a nicer hotel. More recently, a survey of 14,000 travelers by industry leaders indicates that new travel trends lean heavily toward domestic travel as travel begins to recover from the pandemic. The Adventure Travel Trade Association recently released a study indicating that the experiential travel market is expected to bounce back faster than the overall U.S. travel market in 2021. In addition, travel consumers are increasingly demonstrating the wish for personalization and curation with Luxury Travel Magazine naming personalization as one of its luxury travel trends for 2020.
Finally, there is a yearning among luxury consumers to avoid the commercial air travel experience – both on the ground and in the air – combined with an underutilized private aircraft industry. This confluence allows Manifest to offer flying private within a two-hour radius of the origination point for the same cost as business or first-class fares through the “shared economy” concept, while ensuring a greater level of health and safety compared to commercial travel.
Manifest has club “chapters” that are geo-located in the top 50 to 60 U.S. markets based on household income selection criteria and filtered against data that shows each markets’ propensity to buy business and first-class fares. Each chapter will begin with limited memberships of only 175 members. Members pay annual dues of $2,500, which provides access to Manifest’s exclusive members-only experiences. Those interested can join a waitlist in each of the future chapters for a $500 fee.
Manifest designs, curates and manages all of the logistical components of each experience which includes adventure, wine/culinary, golf, cultural, and romantic destinations such as Santa Fe, New Mexico; Sedona, Arizona; Telluride, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Bandon Dunes, Oregon; as well as major events. A complete list of experiences is available here.
During the first year, Manifest will offer members one experience per week in a combination of three-, four-, six- and seven-day trips. Members can invite up to three guests per trip and most trips will have between four and eight people. The experiences will range in price depending on the activity, location and length of stay.
Given the current environment of uncertainty, Manifest has taken steps to ensure members have complete confidence and flexibility when joining the club. For those who join by October 31, first year’s dues ($2,500) can be applied toward the first experience. In addition, annual dues are fully refundable if the member doesn’t book a travel experience within six months and any waitlist deposits for membership in future chapters are fully refundable if Manifest doesn’t begin service within one year. Finally, Manifest works only with partners that adhere to, or exceed, the CDC recommendations for safe travel measures.
“While we know pent-up demand for travel exists, we also appreciate the ongoing sense of uncertainty,” said Potter. “We’ve taken additional steps – what we call the Manifest Promise – to ensure our members are able to travel in a way that is safe, reliable and considerate.”
Based in Denver, Colorado, and founded by Jeff Potter, the former CEO of Frontier Airlines, Exclusive Resorts and Surf Air, Manifest is an exclusive, chapter-based lifestyle and travel club that provides custom-crafted getaways to unique destinations within the U.S., removing the hassle of typical travel by providing private plane service. Currently, Manifest has chapters in Denver, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles Basin, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Phoenix with additional chapters to follow. To date, the company has raised over $2 million and is currently filling out its seed round.