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Daily Deal Travel Sites: Are They for Real?

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This Has Always Bugged Me.

Ever since the onset of Groupon, there has been a flurry of daily deal sites that give you a heavily discounted deal for a limited time only. It’s an old sales trick (remember the infomercials that said ‘call within the next 30 minutes for a special price!’), but it has definitely gained steam in the eCommerce age.

We’re not talking about conventional ‘coupon sites’ like CouponFeed.org , which gives you a list of updated coupon codes (they tend to change each week). Here’s how they work: they give you lots of coupons for Greengeeks, for example, and then you can pick and choose which ones you want to use. Usually they are dependent on the travel destinations (i.e. Hawaii, Europe, Mexico).

These coupon sites definitely vary in quality from site to site (don’t get me started on the crappy Retailmenot.com!), but if the site is good you will see lots of 40-50% off promotions going on.

Then there are the daily deal sites: Farebuzz.com, Livingsocial Escapes, and Groupon all claim to offer heavily-discounted daily deals on their products.

An Experiment: Which Type of Site Gives You The Best Deal?

We compared the daily deal offerings for one week on all three of the major daily deal sites mentioned above. We also tracked the coupon sites’ offerings. What did we find?

They were identical.

Confused? Let us explain. Travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity will decide to have a sale to a certain destination, and they will communicate that sale to their ‘partners’, which includes both the Groupons and Coupon Feed types of sites.

Then when the sale goes live, both of the sites will advertise the exact same offer…but they will phrase the language in a way that makes you think one is a daily deal, whereas the other one requires a promo code to use.

Both achieve the same ends: Expedia wants to sell tickets, and these sites mobilize different audiences to do the same thing. So, Expedia wins in this scenario.

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