5 tips for getting the most from Groupon Getaways

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Who loves travel deals? I do! Not long ago, Groupon partnered with Expedia to launch Groupon Getaways, a site that offers deeply discounted travel deals. It’s simple. Go to groupon.com. Click the Getaways tab. Start planning your next vacation. A sample of today’s Groupon travel deals includes luxury hotels and resorts in Puerto Vallarta, Las Vegas, Belize, Montana, Palm Springs, Orlando and Niagara Falls.

Are these Groupon travel deals as unbeatable as they seem? Not always. Many have hidden fees and blackout dates. All of them have expiration dates and you have to pay in full when you buy the Groupon, not when you take the trip.

These deals are not being offered for charitable reasons. The ONLY reason they are offered is to fill rooms that might be otherwise empty in the off-season or for some other reason. You might be able to find a good deal for the same destination by other means.

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from a Groupon deal if you are smart about it. We recently bought a Groupon for three nights in a one-bedroom condo, Liftside #20 in case you’re wondering, from Key to the Rockies in Keystone, Colorado. We took the trip last weekend and it was awesome!

Here are five tips that helped us book a great vacation through Groupon Getaways.

1. Ask yourself, is this really what I want?

This might be the best deal ever, but if you don’t use it, you’re pouring your money down the drain. Before you click “Buy”, think about how this getaway fits into your existing plans and budget. Do you have dates in mind when you KNOW you can use it? Will you need to sacrifice something else to fit this trip into your schedule or budget?

2. Read the fine print

$240 for three nights in a 1-bedroom condo in a resort town like Keystone looked like a screaming deal, until I read the details and saw that we would also be charged a $60 cleaning fee. That was 25% more than the advertised price, but still a better deal than comparable condos I found on Expedia.

We were traveling to Keystone that weekend anyway and needed lodging, so the Groupon was a winner. However, a 25% mark-up might have been a dealbreaker for a trip that we weren’t already planning.

I also compared costs between staying in the condo and eating all our meals there vs. a nearby budget hotel with a complimentary breakfast and they were even. From the photos, I’m sure you’ll agree that we made the right decision.

3. Ask questions

Groupon has a Q&A section for each deal where you can write a question to be answered by the property. The speed and accuracy with which your question is answered by the property may be a good indicator of how you’ll be treated during your stay.

I asked a last-minute, nit-picky question via Groupon and it was answered within hours. It was the first of several positive interactions with the managers of our Keystone condo.

Even if you don’t have a question of your own, reading others’ questions and the response times can give you some good information about whether this deal is right for you.

4. Read Reviews

Read reviews of the property on one of the many online travel review sites. I was intrigued by Groupon deals in Costa Rica and the Bahamas, but when I read reviews on tripadvisor.com, I found that one of the hotels was not well suited for young children and the other had a lot of ho-hum reviews, so I moved on.

Don’t rely too much on a single positive or negative review. Get an overall impression from multiple reviewers and you’ll get a good idea of what to expect. There were not many reviews on our Keystone condo, but they were consistently good, so we felt safe to take the plunge.

5. Sleep on it

Sure, some Groupon vacation deals sell out, but most don’t. If you check Groupon frequently, you’ll have at least a week to decide on most of the getaway deals before they’re gone. I saw the Keystone condo deal on the day it was posted and waited until there were just hours left on the clock to commit.

I’ve seen three Groupon deals for different Keystone properties since I booked this one. If this deal gets away from you, a similar deal will likely come around soon.

Booking a Keystone condo through Groupon Getaways worked well for us. Using these guidelines, I will be on the lookout for more Groupon travel deals!

 

This post was featured on ABC’s “The Lookout” and on the Huffington Post. This post also appeared on Travel Tips Tuesday at walkingontravels.com and suitcasesandsippycups.com.

 

20 comments

  • Very good advice for choosing a Groupon Getaway. Reading review online is really good. It helps you to know what you are paying for.

    • Thank you! I really do think that you need to do your homework here. There are some great deals out there, but not all of them are right for everyone.

      • I bought a vacation in St Croix last year and it was truly awesome. Two people, for seven nights, few yards away from the water for less than $650.00. Now this is with added tax. Airfare was only $260.00/person round trip, breakfast included… Sure it wasn’t 5 star hotel, but we spent most of the time laying down on the beach, snorkeling, diving… It was so great, that I’m actually playing with a thought of moving there, lol.
        So in process of looking for that exact deal so I can go one more time to see if the feeling of falling in love with the place was real

  • You totally made the right choice. We booked a room at one of the budget hotels that Keystone owns and it was a dive. It was AWFUL. Luckily we were there for a conference and needed the cheapest option so we were only in the room for sleeping or I would have been mad.

    • So sorry! Sometimes you do just need a place to sleep for the cheapest price. We always dither between paying more for comfort and saving that money for something fun. Fortunately, this time we were able to get both.

  • It looks like you ot a great deal! That’s a very nice condo. I keep looking at the Groupon Getaways in Asia but haven’t bought one yet. I have specific dates when I want to travel. I’m afraid that I’ll buy it and then find out that the Groupon designated rooms for my dates are already taken. I have no idea if though if they’ll only take so many Groupons per date. So, I guess I’m waiting for a time when I have more flexibility.

    • On the one I bought, several people (including me) asked about availability of specific dates in the Q&A and received answers. I’m sure that a lot of your concerns depend on the individual property, so it’s nice to have the opportunity to ask questions up front. Once I hit “Buy” and had a certificate to print, I called the property right away to make reservations.

  • You lucked out on a wonderful deal and place. I’ve used Groupon for a number of things but haven’t used its Getaways portion yet. Great advice here. I too read multiple sites for lodging reviews. We’ve passed up on some lodging deals with no reviews found. Hope you had a great TBEX experience. Sorry to have missed it and meeting you and fellow bloggers.

  • Great tips! That fine print will get you if you are not careful. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way before.

  • I’ve used both a Groupon Getaway and a Living Social one, both with very positive results. The ones that bug me though, are the hotels that advertise $99 for a room, but only for two people. The last one I looked at wanted $30 extra per person, even for children. That was a huge dealbreaker for me.

    • We had that experience when we were looking for a room in Las Vegas for our family. Many of the advertised rates are for only two people. It is annoying and can be a tip-off that the hotel is not as family-friendly as others.

  • Another thing to look at in the fine print is the Book By and Use By dates. I missed the Book By date on one deal but thankfully had a very nice booking agent who let me use the voucher anyway. Phew!

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  • Great tips. Sometimes I get that over-excited feeling when I see a groupon deal and instantly want to buy (like if I accidentally watch HSN). Before I buy I always check other resources to make sure it is actually a good deal. I think the tip to sleep on it.

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