So, the Torcroft Hotel’s Groupon campaign is now over. But last week, I caught up with Neil & Sally Taylor to find out how it was going. When we spoke, they were four days into their great Groupon adventure.
(You can read Part 1 of this article here)
- What were the dates of the offer?
“The offer was advertised for a week for purchase of the voucher, and people have one month in which to book (the period they can book in is, in our case, 1st April – 31st May, 1st October – 23rd December.)”
- How has it gone so far?
“We have been overwhelmed with enquiries and bookings. The phone has been ringing constantly. One problem we’ve encountered is the first onrush of Groupon guests arriving when we were still coping with lots of new bookings, which is hard when there is just the two of you!
We’ve already booked 160 2-night stays and 110 3-night stays. Of those bookings, half are finalised and half are conditional. Right now, we’re still in the midst of adding them by hand to our booking sheet before transferring them to our online system, Freetobook.”
- How far in advance are these bookings?
“April and May are now fully booked. October is mostly booked. The offer also runs through November and December. Six couples have stayed via the offer already (as of Tuesday 3rd April).
- Any problems?
“We had one disgruntled guest, who felt he waited too long to be booked in because Neil was on the phone. Then he complained on TripAdviser because Neil told him we were a non-smoking establishment. He had mistaken the guest’s fake ‘electric’ cigarette for a real one when he was ‘smoking’ in our lounge. I don’t know why he thought Neil would know what it was, as non-smokers we’d never heard of them. I would have thought he should have come to us and explained first. He also complained that Neil had given some others guests tea and cake and not offered some to him and his girlfriend when they’d arrived earlier, as if everything is in the offer – when in fact we judge when to ask people if they’d like any refreshment on arrival depending on how tired they look (the couple in question who got tea were walking the coastal path and had been walking all day), what time of day it is and how busy we are with check ins.”
“Some Groupon guests are only interested in the offer, and how much they can get, rather than the holiday. They expect us to find weekends for them in balcony rooms, not realising that these go first. Others are delightful and very flexible, and we hope they come back. The offer has attracted a much younger age of guest (20-30), and some of these are less polite, impatient and surprise us in odd ways – for example by coming to breakfast in pyjamas bottoms and t-shirts, and in the evening asking for glasses of ice, so they can drink their own alcohol in the bedroom and not make use of our licensed bar. They have also asked us to reheat their own food at breakfast, rather than their pay £5 for our breakfast. We try to be flexible, but sometimes we feel we’re being taken advantage of!”
- So are you glad you did it?
“So far, yes. Though we did want to fill our rooms at quiet times of year, our incentive wasn’t solely financial. In some ways, we were more interested in raising awareness with high season coming up. This certainly seems to have worked. Our website has been getting c6000 hits per day, as opposed to the c100 we would normally expect. We give our repeat customers a 10% discount as a matter of course anyway, so it will be interesting to see how many of our Groupon customers rebook.”
(We’ll be checking back in with Neil & Sally soon, to find out how they feel about Groupon once the dust has settled.)