Groupon Getaways: What luxury hotels need to know about group buying sites

Groupon knows what it’s doing.  It’s no surprise they partnered with Expedia to create Groupon Getaways.  I do wonder though, how the industry is faring with this.  The hotels featured in these offers are surprisingly good for the consumer, and the hotels involved may fill rooms, but I also wonder if they thought about maintaining their brand’s image, and attracting the right kind of guests.

Take a look at this example of Jefferson Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux property, now seen on Groupon.  This is a luxury property and even I was surprised to see this.  As we know, high end hotels are reluctant to show discounting like this.   Relais & Chateaux certainly pride themselves on maintaining a luxury brand.  What I don’t know is whether they realized their relationship with Expedia would result in this kind of “extra exposure”.   I am not saying Groupon Getaways is not a good marketing platform – for certain types of hotels it is.

Before you do your next Groupon or group buying site promotion here are some tips:

1. Know which sites your offer will appear on beyond the site you are promoting the offer with.  For example, this Groupon is coming through Expedia.  Did the Jefferson just work with Expedia and do they realize they are a Groupon?  Perhaps it is just a way to syndicate content and the hotels are not involved in the decision.  Make sure you know where your brand is going to end up. Know which sites have partnerships with others. Will your offer be syndicated or end up on other sites?

2. Know your target audience and make sure it is aligned with the site’s demographics.

3. Educate yourself on all the options.  There are other group buying or flash sites that may be a better fit for your brand.

4. What is your objective?  Do you want to quickly fill rooms or attract high quality guests?  It is a quality vs quantity play.

5. Test small promotions on sites that fit what you want to do.  All group buying sites let you cap the amount of room nights.   When you find something you are happy with then offer more inventory.  Do not try to go with a site that can offer mass volume because they have a lot of members when you don’t know how it is likely to perform or what quality it will create.

6. Think about your brand alignment.  Does being listed on the site make my brand look better or not?  The last thing you want to do is work with a site that will diminish the years of work that has gone into creating value of your brand in the consumer’s mind.

7. Think about your drive markets and which are the top cities guests are already coming from.  Ask the site to give you a breakdown of subscribers by geography.  I don’t know why Groupon is showing it’s Las Vegas audience a Washington D.C. hotel.

Travel industry friends, speak up on this topic.  What do you think?

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One Comment on “Groupon Getaways: What luxury hotels need to know about group buying sites”

  1. Jose Mallabo (@josemallabo) August 14, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Good post. Deals on travel are clearly a hot area and have been since the days of Preview Travel! Check out or Shopping on Twitter — we’re considering pushing next into the travel category.

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