When a “deal” is not a “deal”.

Deal sites, they have sprung up everywhere. The big players are Living Social and Groupon. Toss in Google Offers, Amazon Local and the plethora of niche sites and one would never have to pay full price for anything ever again.

We have used the big two for our B&B. we have also tried some smaller lesser known sites with mixed results. We have been courted by Google and Amazon, but had to say know as their “takes” are way too high. They say that the deals can be loss leaders or ways to get people in the door and then they will spend more once here. In the B&B Industry that rarely works. For our Inn, Living Social has been the best to work with. I recommend them and would be happy to talk to anyone on a personal level about my experiences.

When a deal is not a deals

My wife knows I want an iPhone case that allows you to carry a license and credit card, maybe some cash, so when she saw one on the Steal.com Network for $19 at 50% off she pointed it out to me.

Well it looked like a great deal, you have to tack on shipping, so lets do the comparison on Amazon (we have an Amazon Prime account so I have got in the habit of using it for comparison shopping). So I took a look on Amazon where it was a couple of bucks more. Being Amazon it gave me similar products, one that was in fact a better design, with free Prime shipping for $19. So in theory I could save myself $5 by going through Amazon.

Deals in the B&B Industry

In the B&B Industry as a vendor you are asked to give a 40 to 50 percent discount on your package, and then anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the price the consumer pays is taken as commission by the deal site.

Now for a a larger hotel that works on volume this may be a great deal, they use their prime summer rates and go from there. For a B&B with a handful of rooms you have to make sure you make some money to pay the bills, staff (if you have any) and the food to feed the guests. In our case by using the Day Spa as a loss leader we have been able to make a small amount on each deal we have run. It has helped fill the rooms, when they may have been empty.

Now the thing to know as a consumer is that we always offer packages on our web site, you can easily seek them out, as you can on most B&B web sites. As an innkeeper i would much rather sell you direct than through a third party.

The upside to these deal sites is that as a small B&B I get exposure to a bigger audience. The question then becomes the quality of that audience. Some are just looking for a cheap place to stay, others really are looking for a great deal on an experience. That is where the biggest difference lies.

So what now?

This post is really just to open your eyes, check your sources, and be mindful of what it really means when you are using a deal site. Just remember the people making the most money are the deal sites themselves, no matter what the product or service.

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