As the race between Groupon and LivingSocial grows tighter, Groupon has closed in on LivingSocial’s one main differentiator: travel. LivingSocial has Escapes, and now Groupon has Groupon Getaways, courtesy of the company’s new partnership with Expedia.
Groupon’s new travel branch will follow the tried-and-true Groupon model. Subscribers will have a limited time to purchase discounted travel deals, and discounts start at 50% off. Groupon’s partnership with Expedia means Groupon Getaways will be able to offer deals from among the 135,000 hotels that work with Expedia. Additionally, Groupon Getaways will offer package deals for airline tickets, car rentals, cruises, activities, and more.
The new travel venture offers a unique opportunity for hotels and travel suppliers to reach Groupon’s 70 million+ subscribers, as well as Expedia’s secret treasure trove of registered members (the number of which the company has not disclosed).
“Everybody wins with our new partnership with Groupon: Travelers get amazing deals for spontaneous travel to dream destinations; travel suppliers get the ability to reach an enormous audience at no upfront cost to participate; Groupon gets to extend its business into new markets; and we advance our new ‘Expedia Everywhere’ strategy with a powerful new high growth channel to deliver daily deals,” said Scott Durchslag, President of Expedia Worldwide, in a statement.
It will be interesting to see how Groupon Getaways competes with LivingSocial Escapes, which launched in November 2010, one month after LivingSocial acquired Urban Escapes. Travel deals range from small, local B&Bs to international resorts, and LivingSocial typically offers approximately 20 travel deals at a time.
Groupon Getaways will be launching in late June, and so far, few details exist to paint a better picture of the kinds of travel deals Groupon will be offering. Nor has the company said whether it will offer multiple deals over an extended period of time as LivingSocial does, or if it will offer one deal per day in the traditional Groupon style (Groupon could not be reached for comment, but it seems likely that deals will follow the LivingSocial format of hosting multiple deals over the course of a week or so).
But Groupon is already ahead of the game if it can deliver on its promise to serve discounts of 50% off of more. While many of LivingSocial’s travel deals are pretty tantalizing, they’re not always a full 50% off. For example, one deal is for a seven-day vacation in Brazil for two for $2,399, a 40% discount off the standard $3,998 price tag. To be fair, most of LivingSocial’s travel deals are 50% off, but it remains to be seen whether Groupon can top that.