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 ChicagoTribune.com and in June on WashingtonPost.com, 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?


R-Diddddaaaay said...

There's another service called What's the Deal DC that is launching in August as well. Check them out at http://www.whatsthedealdc.com .

Beets and Bonbons said...

I bought my first coupon on GroupOn today, in fact. (DC Metro Food Tour of Eastern Market) The site was certainly easy enough to use and in addition to clueing me in to an activity that I did not even know existed, it was a pretty good deal too. I'm looking forward to exploring the other sites.

Saxdrop said...

Ive bought two Groupons in the past couple months. As Beets said, they find some interesting, novel opportunities so even if I dont buy, I feel like there's some value added to the emails.

I also am much more of a foodie then someone who participates in recreation, so while Ive been aware of various massage and spa spots, I dont generally patronize them. Thanks to Groupon I have.

Amanda said...

Thanks for the feedback. Good to hear you're finding interesting stuff.

And thanks for the addition, R-D...

Newsaholic said...

I've bought three Groupons since I saw the WaPo article in June, but haven't used any yet. They're not terribly short dated, but they're not exactly open-ended either--3 months seems to be an average expiration date.

I very quickly realized that I should limit myself to restaurants I know I like and would visit anyway, lest I get lazy and not make it out in time to use the coupon up.

caroline said...

I joined the Hela Spa deal from Groupon and enjoyed my first facial-- something I would never pay for at full price. I also recently purchased their 50% coupon for La Tomate but have not used it yet. It's a great way to try new services and restaurants that I would normally find too expensive.

Sara Williams said...

Very cool concepts and great to know about. Thanks!

Allyson said...

I've bought multiple Groupons and have been really pleased. I've never had any trouble using them at restaurants, and they don't have all of the annoying restrictions that the restaurant.com certificates do-no need to mention it when ordering, generally they can be applied to alcohol, etc. The only issue I'd mention is that most groupons for services (salons, spas, etc) seem to want to know when you schedule the appointment if you're going to be redeeming a Groupon, even though it never says that anywhere on the website or on the actual Groupon. The first time I made an appointment at a spa I didn't mention it, and while the spa accepted it, it seemed to be an issue for them. Ever since, I've asked when scheduling if they need to know that I'm redeeming a groupon, and the answer has always been yes. Overall, I've found it to be a great program though.

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