Collective Buying Hits Up Dining, Hotels

Today, LivingSocial Deals is offering an overnight stay and massage at Virginia's Lansdowne Resort for about half price.
photo from Lansdowne Resort

Whether or not you've ever been a coupon clipper or Costco shopper, a new class of web sites that harness collective buying power for big discounts may be worth a look — especially now that the "social buying" trend has migrated into the dining scene.

The sites all work in basically the same way: They offer a deal, say a $50 restaurant gift card for $25, for a limited amount of time (a ticking clock has a way of calling people to action). Enough people have to buy in to make the deal work, and the offer can sell out.

And then, of course, you need to read the fine print — the coupons are often only good for a limited amount of time, so you have to use them fast.

Here's a look at some of the group buying sites offering restaurant deals that have sprung up in DC:

LivingSocial Deals: This DC-based newcomer just launched Monday. Today, you can score an overnight at the Lansdowne Resort with a massage for $129 (a $275 value). Look for several restaurant deals coming up this week.

Groupon: This site, featured Tuesday on and in June on, recently offered deals for Hela Spa and Panache restaurant.

BuyWithMe: Recent deals have included a $100 voucher for $50 at Georgetown's Qi Spa and a $50 bottle of wine for $25 at Hook.

Have you used any of these sites yet? What do you think?