I can’t think of any other marketing solution that is a bigger “win-win” for customers and businesses than community or group buying. We’ve been working with BuyWithMe, one of the top community-buying websites, for three months now so it’s easy to forget that many people may not be as familiar with this industry and how it works. The brilliance of the community-buying platform is that both the businesses and the customers win.
So what is community or group buying? Community buying happens when a certain number of shoppers/consumers show interest in a particular product or service. When enough interest is achieved (normally this is a mutually agreed number of potential buyers), consumers are able to purchase a voucher to get the deal and the merchant gets a steady stream of new customers. Community buying sites have cultivated communities of consumers eager to get a great deal and try new experiences. The website makes money because it splits the revenue produced with the merchant. For small businesses, it is the perfect way to capture demand, build awareness, and of course attract new customers, all without spending marketing dollars until the results come through.
The tourism industry and hospitality business owners have a great deal to benefit from community-buying and travel opportunities as a vertical is just starting to heat up. At the moment, most of the community or group buying websites (BuyWithMe, Groupon, Living Social, etc.) are mainly focused on local restaurants, spas, health and services. That’s not to say they don’t want to work with hotels and tourism businesses, but the sheer volume of opportunity in these verticals is so vast that it is purely a case of not being able to tap into every opportunity. That said, traditional tourism businesses like hotels, day trips, cruises and sightseeing operations should be looking into this medium to attract new customers, particularly in need periods. It’s a win for the businesses and a win for potential travelers.
An interesting new development we saw last week was an extension to BuyWithMe’s daily deals and seven-day sales. They took the community-buying concept to the next level and launched the first of their Exclusive Experiences city passes called The Hamptons Pass. The Hamptons Pass enables 36 businesses to get exposure in exchange for providing exclusive access, complimentary benefits and free perks when cardholders show the pass. There is no other cost to participate. The merchants win through exposure to new clients and through BuyWithMe’s publicity and marketing machine. Consumers/shoppers get special treatment all summer long with exclusive opportunities and VIP perks at restaurants, activities, spa services and hotels. Once again, everybody wins through the community buying approach.