Not so long ago, the new, travel “catch term” in a struggling travel economy was the “staycation”.
The idea that people could really vacation in their own back yards, getting to know, appreciate and experience their own neighborhoods was novel, and widely accepted.
It made sense.
Many of us don’t really know our own cities, so companies like CityPass made it easy, especially for families to see all the cool things a city has to offer . Their money-saving passes to key attractions made the staycation a success.
Enter LivingSocial, a competitor to Groupon, with its newly launched travel division: Living Social Escapes
Headed by former Expedia exec, Doug MIller, LivingSocial has more or less popularized the term “Near-Cation” by looping local hotels into deeply discounted deals and offers.
Its competitors have left the local hotel scene pretty much untouched.
As USA Today Travel reported, the LivingSocial, “perk-filled” hotel offers are good for one or two night travel experiences, with a shelf life of a week, when a new set of discounted hotel offerings comes out.
Although Expedia has thousands of discounted hotels, LivingSocial pretty much makes sure the hotels are within driving distance from your chosen city and work with local staff.
What’s fascinating, is no sooner do these group-buying services come out, than someone develops a site to make searching through the group-buying sites easier.
Take a look at Dealradar.com. The site aggregates the best deals in each city culled from 200 group buying sites.
What this means is consumers get one convenient email that delivers all the deals cutting out the need to subscribe to multiple deal sites.
Lauren Lloyd, a spokesperson for Dealradar says the discounts are broken out into categories (Arts, Automotive, Spas, etc) on a city-by-city basis, making the deals easy to find specific to a consumer’s needs.
Of course, she says, consumers can visit the web site if they don’t want a daily email.
The company says the average discount per offer, aggregated, is a whopping 53%.
One LivingSocial deal I liked was the Brattleboro, Vermont Theater Deal at The Latchis Hotel.
For $285.00 (down from $485.00) members get a two-night stay at this art deco hotel; complimentary bottle of wine; daily breakfasts; two dinners at a cool, local restaurant, and two tickets for The Latchis Theatre.
BUT, they’re sold out.
Like Groupon, LivingSocial seems to have come out of nowhere. But the company now has 26 million members, and is hiring six people a day, adding to its staff of 1,300
And , they answer their phone!