The Gist: You offer a fantastic deal, crafted and negotiated with regional staff from LivingSocial, to come experience your inn or B&B. While the more unrestricted deals get more purchases, deals will have an expiration date and may be customized to fill your down times or shoulder seasons. LivingSocial promotes the deal via email, either as the Daily Deal or as part of their travel-specific Escapes email, to an opt-in email list of consumers in a specific market(s).
These consumers opt-in to the LivingSocial emails and are looking for deals on unique experiences. Your deal will have a time-limit and a quantity limit. This scarcity is key in creating the typical high demand and response. Those LivingSocial customers interested in the deal will purchase it directly from LivingSocial. Purchasers can get their deal free, if three of their friends or family also purchase the same deal.
Oftentimes, purchasers will promote their new purchase on social networking sites, encouraging others to do the same. LivingSocial collects the funds from all the purchases, keeps a commission and sends your agreed-upon share within days after the offer ends.
The upside for innkeepers (as shared with PAII by innkeepers who offered deals through LivingSocial):
Participating innkeepers will receive a bump in cash flow, possibly during the slowest times of the year (depending on when the deal is executed and offered).
Most people who buy experiences at inns and B&Bs are first-time "inngoers”, Gen X or Gen Y and people who otherwise would not likely have come across the participating inns.
Return on investment is 100% measurable, unlike other advertising and marketing efforts. You know exactly the economic impact on your business from participating in LivingSocial.
There is likely to be some breakage, which consists of the unredeemed purchases. The innkeeper receives payment up front for all purchases, even those which may never be redeemed.
Awareness of your property may skyrocket during the time of the deal. Participating innkeepers report a surge in web traffic to their web site.
There is always the chance that some of those LivingSocial customers will return to the property in the future – at more typical prices - assuming the innkeeper has met or exceeded expectations and develops an effective, direct relationship with that guest.
Advice for innkeepers before jumping on board (as shared by participating innkeepers):
Be prepared for a surge of incoming emails and phone calls during the time the deal is promoted by LivingSocial. Have the necessary help to answer the ringing-off-the-hook phone. Don’t fail on this – if you can’t deliver timely and great service to the inquiring guests, even during the "surge” period, they may think the on-site experience will also be questionable.
Have a keen understanding of your variable costs for each guest who comes through your doors on the package offered. Make sure you understand what your net proceeds for each LivingSocial guest will be and what it will cost you to service that guest (i.e. food, cleaning, etc.). Be sure you include your costs with any add-ons in the package, i.e. flowers, chocolates, vouchers for off-site restaurants or activities, etc.
You stand to be more profitable and successful if you add distinct value to your offer that doesn’t come with a higher cost to you – the innkeeper. Consider soliciting participation from area businesses (i.e. restaurants and attractions), that would offer a voucher to the guest that costs you – the innkeeper – less than the face value. An example might be including a $50 voucher for dinner at a great local restaurant, but you negotiate a deal with the restaurant in which you only pay $25 for that voucher. If you offer cooking classes, your actual costs might be low, but the value could allow you to have a higher-priced package. The more offered in the package, the better – but keep a close eye on your costs and income per guest.
Don’t craft a deal that you are not comfortable with and that you can’t confidently stand behind. If the guest experience is not a good one through LivingSocial, it will be bad for all parties – the innkeeper, the guest and LivingSocial. This is why a lot of thought will go into the offer details, the wording of the deal in the email promotion, the limitations and restrictions, etc.
If you would like to ask questions of innkeepers who were satisfied with their LivingSocial experience, these innkeepers have generously offered to answer your emails or phone calls:
"We did a LS Escape 3 weeks ago. We sold 60 vouchers. We were happy. We worked out our costs to the penny, and by adding in the high margin upsell items and because we have an onsite day spa and could offer a credit for that too, we did well. We will do another LS escape as soon as they let us. We will probably tweak it a little but not much."
Nathan Allen Swantown Inn B&B, Olympia WA
I am VERY HAPPY/ECSTATIC with my LivingSocial deal. My rooms are full, my guests are happy, some have already sent friends, some have already booked (at full price) for future stays and I'm planning my next one.
Vicki Woods Iron Mountain Inn, Butler TN
Interested? Contact LivingSocial below to inquire about PAII exclusives! Your information will be forwarded to a LivingSocial representative.