Several times already at theBandBer we’ve reported first hand on accommodation owners’ experiences of Groupon and other daily deals sites. The consensus so far seems to be that flash sales can be useful when it comes to boosting your property’s profile, as long as you don’t expect to make any real money out of it.
None the less, the fact remains that many BandBers have always been wary of this kind of sales technique. And now it seems that their scepticism is fully justified. When it floated on the stock market in November 2011, Groupon was valued at $20 per share, but that valuation has now sunk as low as $2.60. More pertinently, it has also started to move away from its core business, instead using the huge customer database it has built up to sell “vacuum cleaners, mattresses and other overstock merchandise,” as Stephen Jones of Tnooz observes.
An exclusive interview with accommodation owner Caroline Cashmore about her experience of “daily deals” site, KGB Deals
We all know that the Cold War has been over (officially anyway) for more than 20 years now. But who would ever have imagined that UK hotels would be signing up with the KGB!
Allow me to explain. Regular readers of “theBandBer” will remember that a little while back we reported on the Groupon experience of Neil & Sally Taylor, owners of the Torcroft Hotel in Torquay. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to Caroline Cashmore, who owns and runs the Glazebrook Country House Hotel with her husband, David. Rather than Groupon, they decided to participate in a promotion with a similar deal-of-the-day site, called KGB Deals.
We’ve had a very stimulating response, as always, to our guest post from Sally Taylor at the Torcroft Hotel in Devon, about her experience of running a Groupon Campaign. A whopping 93% of those who voted in our online poll said they wouldn’t consider selling through the flash sales site. They offered their opinions via theBandBer.com itself, as well as LinkedIn and Facebook (good to see social media bringing B&B folk together). Here’s a selection of their comments:
“We did a ‘very special’ offer last year via The Sunday Times (Sunday Nights promotion) and got a few bookings – most of these, like the guests you mentioned, just wanted as much as possible for as little as possible. We wouldn’t do that sort of offer again.”
‘Why did we decide to sign up with Groupon? To be perfectly honest, we decided that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. One of the problems facing the owners of small hotels and B & Bs is how to attract customers during these difficult economic times. Faced with the ongoing costs of running a business – mortgages, rates, utility bills and ongoing repairs, it’s not an option to sit the recession out and hope things will get better. The obvious option is to make your customer an offer they can’t refuse, but how does the small guesthouse compete with the big boys such as Premier Inn? The real challenge is how to get your offer out to potential guests when you don’t have a huge marketing budget that allows for primetime TV ads and pay for clicks campaigns to ensure you stay on the front page of Google. Once upon a time, B & B owners could put their property on a few internet holiday sites and sit and wait for the bookings to come in. No longer. The internet has changed beyond recognition in recent years, and marketing is now a highly sophisticated operation. Most owners of small hotels have to juggle cooking breakfast and making beds, with the business side of things. The Marketing Director is also the on-call plumber and bottle-washer.’