Groupon/Living Social revisited

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muirford's picture
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Same stuff that's been written in other articles, on the front page of the New York Times.  

If you don't read it all the way to the end, here's an interesting bit. "The researchers found that fans of daily deals were on average hard to please. After they ate at the restaurant or visited the spa, they went on Yelp and grumbled about it. This pulled down the average Yelp rating by as much as half a point."

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We just had someone try and use their crwdct and did not read it. So we stuck to the rules and got a nice 1 bubble on tripadvisor. Ouch. Then they cancelled the review and post again as so they were the highest review as we got a 5 star right after they had done theirs. It is obvious in the review that they are touched but it is in the aggregate rating.

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toddburme wrote:

We just had someone try and use their crwdct and did not read it. So we stuck to the rules and got a nice 1 bubble on tripadvisor. Ouch. Then they cancelled the review and post again as so they were the highest review as we got a 5 star right after they had done theirs. It is obvious in the review that they are touched but it is in the aggregate rating.

Am I reading that correctly? The guest wrote the review, then retracted it when they saw you had a good review and rewrote it so it shows at the top again? How many times can they do this? Take screen shots right now and turn their sorry selves into TA for spamming your listing. Regardless of the interaction they had they should not be able to keep rewriting the review. That is childish for one thing and punitive for another.

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We have informed TA about it.

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dup

Breakfast Diva's picture
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I just bought a Grp0n deal this morning. It's for Vegas and is a good deal. I need a getaway I can look forward to! We're able to put 2 together and will stay for 4 nights. Good room rate with $100 food credit & $100 gambling credit for the 4 nights.

These are the type of deals, big hotes/resorts that I think can really benefit from group discounts. I'm sure they don't care much about their TA reviews because they're so huge.

It's pretty frightening all of the really dumb. redundant questions the public asks about the deals. With Grp0n, you can post a question and it's answered pretty quickly. They ask the same questions over and over and most of them just can't get the concept of black out dates, weekend vs weekday coupons and restrictions. It must be tough when one of these deals is for a b&b and to have to field these questions all day!

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Breakfast Diva wrote:

They ask the same questions over and over and most of them just can't get the concept of black out dates, weekend vs weekday coupons and restrictions. It must be tough when one of these deals is for a b&b and to have to field these questions all day!

This is the part I have disliked the most.  People only see the VALUE and do not read the fine print until they purchase and you are right they can't understand black out dates, how the weekends get filled first, etc.  I like how they are now allowing the merchant to split the weekdays from the weekends and only have X # of each. This will take care of a lot of headaches for both the customer and the merchant. 

This was not the case when we had our promotion. Of course we had a limit to sell and did not sell the full number we were alotted but as with all of us there are only so many weekend room nights....  All I can say - those that jumped first gobbled them up.  Just like any sale the best gets taken as soon as the doors open. 

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See, this is where I think things go off the rails, in spite of this, some yoohoo will write a TA review about not being able to get a weekend night when that is what they wanted because they are all booked. They just don't understand why you weren't holding it for them when they wanted it.

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We had a special get picked up by a big magazine which proceeded to put the wrong info in the article. It was easier for us to change our special than to argue with the guests that their beloved magazine got something wrong. If it were a groupon or other then we would stick to what is printed on the coupon and not change because guests can't read.

 

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 Just for my information who pay the sales tax on these rooms used with Groupon or LS? How is that handled? 

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Around here, you have to pay taxes on the full amount directly. The same is true with GC around here, tax is extra and not part of the GC.

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sandynn wrote:

 Just for my information who pay the sales tax on these rooms used with Groupon or LS? How is that handled? 

The guest does on arrival.  The amount taxed is dependent on your area laws. 

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The issue here is lack of consistancy of the marketing companies policies.  I say marketing companies because there are many, with new ones popping up each day, each with slightly different policies but in general they are the same.

I have done the 2 biggies... the problem I found is that they have policies in place but they are strict with some, lax with others and and disregard polices for others.  Buyers have started catching on to this and question or become demanding on onset of the reservation.

When I began speaking with my rep. there were several things addressed: 

1) the offer - LS was interested in making the offer a package - adding value other than just the room.  This raised the cost presented and more $ back in the pocket of the merchant.  They call this promotional value, if not used, these buyers (sometimes) feel cheated.   Gro upon on the otherhand is (at least with me) more plain Jane.   Both are interest in making the deal the best value for their dollar spent, not necessarily the cheapest.

2) Approval - this is where the polices are flaky.  Once the rep writes up the proposed offer, it is turned over to the approval team who is to research to determine that the offer meets the criteria of the marketing co.  Is there enough supply for the max. # agreed to sell (with accommodations they check # of room nights, # of rooms etc...) Cost, is the amount in the offer correct?  Are there other advertised offers?  Would the buyer really get 50% off?

There, of course, were other issues discussed but I will stay at the topic at hand.  The approval area is where things can fall though the cracks. They check your site for rates and will average out the rates if they vary thoughout the offer term. For my deal, they came back stating that since I offered $10 off for booking online they had to reduce my offer by $10, my solution - remove that offer on my site!  They also verified that I had ample availability for the dates the offer was good.  Which of course was the case.  BUT following this 2 sites and the deals offered, I have seen where the deal was almost the price offered online (everyday) or through packages they have online (everyday) even when the deal was running.  This is due to the approval team not doing an adequate job and thus causing lots of heartaches for the merchant and marketing co. with complaints from the buyers.  So they have the right policies in place.

The biggest headache for me are the ones that call expecting to have to battle to get what they purchased - Reason? I believe they do not trust what they purchased... either feel it is too good to be true or they have been wronged by one of the deals in the past.  For the most part, once they are here, they are like all the other guests.  Of course, I am not finished with this yet, and I do expect it to become more challanging as the expiry date nears and the # of available room nights dwindles.

Case in point, one guy called - yelling in the phone that he could not book because the room had a 2 night min... said his deal did not state he had to stay a 2nd night -then preceeded to tell me everything on the voucher...  The one thing he FAILed to read was the rooms the voucher was valid for... Ahhh, the room he was looking at was not on the voucher!!!  He later booked, stayed, had a great time and has written a wonderful review. 

There will be those that are just not happy, do not feel they received what they preceived the value to be... those may post a review to reflect that.  That could happen any day with any guest. 

Regarding the comment someone mentioned in this tread about these being more internet savvy and would be more likely to post a review....   I thought this would be the case myself, but it is not.  Many of these people get an email with the deals but have no or little idea about how to use the internet, much less where or how to write a review.  Don't know how to open attachments to emails, how to print.... you name it. 

 

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I read a lot of reviews on TA and I have to tell you that I have seen the horror stories that some of the merchants are talking about. For example, it might be a two night stay but include breakfast one day and people will go the second day for breakfast and be charged and claim that they didn't know they would be charged (but it stated ONE breakfast!)

Reminds me of the places that are on HotWeird and OverPricedLine, sure it might be a good deal in some places, but around here the hotels are selling their rooms opaquely for a reason.... because they can't sell them otherwise. I looked locally today to see what is being offered. It's a long weekend around here (Thanksgiving) so I figured things would be tight. Looked only downtown. Priced from $101 to $192. The $192 hass 3.5 eyes on TA and it's number 58. The $190 just below it is a better choice with 4 eyes and number 37 (better location, better stars, etc). So what do you get for $101 and $110, 2.5 eyes and 3 eyes respectively and number 132 and the other has to be under number 91, since that's where 3 eyes starts.

And the reviews of any of these places are horrid... okay, they might have been horrible before, but throw in a bunch of picky people who think that have been sold that this is a great way to get a fantastic hotel at a great discount and you got an angry mob writing reviews.

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 Since this group is also of the bargain-hunting variety, you have to wonder if they would ever believe a higher rate would be worth it, like Riki said.  Some complaints were about add-ons, like meals.  If you add on a $100 meal for $50, but you would never pay $100 for a meal anyway - it's going to have to be a pretty spectacular meal to make the 'value' proposition work.  Like in another thread - a room here for $100 is a budget room but in other places that's what you pay for the best hotel.  I think JB is right - it is a group more likely to take to the internet to air their complaints.

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muirford wrote:

 Since this group is also of the bargain-hunting variety, you have to wonder if they would ever believe a higher rate would be worth it, like Riki said.  Some complaints were about add-ons, like meals.  If you add on a $100 meal for $50, but you would never pay $100 for a meal anyway - it's going to have to be a pretty spectacular meal to make the 'value' proposition work.  Like in another thread - a room here for $100 is a budget room but in other places that's what you pay for the best hotel.  I think JB is right - it is a group more likely to take to the internet to air their complaints.

Yes, that seems to be a good take on it...bargain hunters who live online. If it's a fantastic deal they start to wonder how come the innkeepers/restaurants or whatever charge so much to start with. If it's not a great deal, they feel cheated. Other than having some new faces showing up in a slow season, it's certainly a double-edged sword.

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I believe you are 100% more "at risk" to negative or positive reviews when you use these services, these are "online" people and this is what they do.  On the same token, they have a couple hundred sales in one day and then all expect to stay that next weekend. If they can't they just don't get why not, so this ticks them off.

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 I know that not everyone has that experience with the coupon users, but it is definitely out there.  One PAII member had a rash of negative reviews - all from LS guests who felt that the deal was over valued and not worth the price.  The article also mentions people calling to get a 'matching' deal from a competitor. 

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muirford wrote:

 I know that not everyone has that experience with the coupon users, but it is definitely out there.  One PAII member had a rash of negative reviews - all from LS guests who felt that the deal was over valued and not worth the price.  The article also mentions people calling to get a 'matching' deal from a competitor. 

Could it be that the innkeepers were convinced to inflate the value in order to not lose 35% to the coupon page owners (if using PAII; 50% if not PAII members)? What appears to be 50% off turns out, when the guest looks closely, to approximate 10% off instead? Given what PAII innkeepers have said themselves, it does seem that they were lured in by that fudge factor.

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Madeleine wrote:

muirford wrote:

 I know that not everyone has that experience with the coupon users, but it is definitely out there.  One PAII member had a rash of negative reviews - all from LS guests who felt that the deal was over valued and not worth the price.  The article also mentions people calling to get a 'matching' deal from a competitor. 

Could it be that the innkeepers were convinced to inflate the value in order to not lose 35% to the coupon page owners (if using PAII; 50% if not PAII members)? What appears to be 50% off turns out, when the guest looks closely, to approximate 10% off instead? Given what PAII innkeepers have said themselves, it does seem that they were lured in by that fudge factor.

Please explain this more, I don't understand. (?)

One thing I know when I looked into it is they DO NOT ALLOW YOU TO RAISE any rates on anything. And in fact adding on items they want those at a discount, they want the deal to be the least cost possible, two nighters are even discourgaed, they want the quick sale, the impulse buy (speaking of LS and Groupon's perspective) to sell more certificates.

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Some innkeepers were adding free items (things they got gratis) to the package and adding in the 'value' of that item to raise the starting value of the package. I'm all for added value but if the room is all the skin the innkeeper has in it (say $100 for ease of use) and they 'throw in' a GC for something (value $40) and thus state the package value at $140, discounted amount at $70, innkeeper gets 65% of that amount, the innkeeper has inflated the package amount by $40.

Then the guests finds that anyone and everyone gets the $40 freebie, they feel cheated.

Other complaints from guests were that the prices online were nowhere near what the package 'value' was stated as. Room rates online were running at $100, but the value of the one night package was over $200. Discounted amount? $100. Innkeeper still pays out on the $100, but it's not $50 as it would have been has they not inflated the price to start with.

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Madeleine wrote:

Other complaints from guests were that the prices online were nowhere near what the package 'value' was stated as. Room rates online were running at $100, but the value of the one night package was over $200. Discounted amount? $100. Innkeeper still pays out on the $100, but it's not $50 as it would have been has they not inflated the price to start with.

This is what you are not allowed to do, at all.  Unless an inn raises their rates for the year maybe and gets around it that way? They are very strict and won't allow this.  In fact most of the complaints SAID this happened when it didn't.  From what I have heard... Interesting topic.

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Joey Bloggs wrote:

Madeleine wrote:

Other complaints from guests were that the prices online were nowhere near what the package 'value' was stated as. Room rates online were running at $100, but the value of the one night package was over $200. Discounted amount? $100. Innkeeper still pays out on the $100, but it's not $50 as it would have been has they not inflated the price to start with.

This is what you are not allowed to do, at all.  Unless an inn raises their rates for the year maybe and gets around it that way? They are very strict and won't allow this.  In fact most of the complaints SAID this happened when it didn't.  From what I have heard... Interesting topic.

I understand that was not supposed to happen but some of the comments sounded like the innkeepers were given the 'wink, wink' in order to build up the supply of offerings on certain sites in certain areas. I know I was told to add more things in to make the price higher to start and make it seem like a big deal. Other than the room, all of that other money would have been cash money right out of my pocket.

In doing a package of my own last year, I 'threw in' tickets to a museum here. I pay for those tickets and this year they are charging me more for them. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that until I got the first bill. The package essentially is just getting people in the door, I am not making a dime other than the normal room rate. I'm not giving 50% of that to an online distributor, so that's helpful!

We received a $100 GC for dinner at a restaurant that is on all the foodie news blogs for this area. We ended up spending more than that but I didn't see any way I would go back there and spend my own $100. Guests here rave about it. Maybe my palate is undeveloped.

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I think it is a case of, if they gave me this what else will/should they give me. More, MOre, MORe, MORE!!!! GIMMEE!

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 Isn't that always the way? Those who have given in to guests wanting "a deal" usually report that they are hard to please. 

RIki

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 This would be in my opinon the same kind that you really bend over backwards and they ding you on the reviews. I am not kidding one that stands out in my mind was one that I really did go over board to give her a discount let her come early and much more. She really dinged me on the review. She wrote great stuff but marked me down in those stupie little bubbles. Sad

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