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!