MAYBE: Annie Ashworth, marketing strategy, Pages & Pages Ltd. Destination hotels need to retain their aspirational qualities and hold steady on rate, plus commission and drop in revPAR could be disastrous for a hotel with few rooms. For mid-range hotels in groups - even small groups - it's a great way of doing one-off, high-visibility marketing. But once you've discounted, it's hard to go back.
YES: Rafael Bejerano, director, The Arch London. Knowing the ins and outs of your business, particularly peaks and troughs, allows you to forecast accurately and group-buying sites are excellent tools for filling low periods. Two years ago we did an afternoon tea offer and sold 5000 vouchers in a few days. On day one we had 1000 click-throughs to our website; this brings awareness to your brand. If you would consider one of these sites, it ought to go into your strategy.
MAYBE: James Byrne, director, Eccleston Square Hotel, London. The temptation for hoteliers is to say 'I just want bums in beds', but if you charge the right price to start with, supply will meet the demand. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult for hoteliers to avoid using these tactics because customers are becoming more dependent on these 'bargain' deals. Hence, there is a reluctance to pay normal prices.
MAYBE: Emily Davis, digital marketing strategist, Creative Network. Being visible on sites like Groupon gets your hotel in front of new prospects. But does that type of offer fit your strategy and the guests you want to attract? The digital world is brimming with places to advertise so it's tempting to be distracted by the latest shiny object. But having a solid strategy will avoid knee-jerk reactions, so you?ll make decisions that will achieve your online goals. People who buy at a discount tend to keep buying at a discount.
YES: Stephen Day, chief executive, Entrusted Group. But do your research. These sites can be effective for gaining new clients and brand building. However, it's vital to choose a reputable site. Know the difference in profit and cash flow and be clear about your client acquisition costs, and remember to gather as much client information as you can.
MAYBE: Graeme Kerr, managing director, Organic Hospitality. Utilise your own marketing data as you'll get more loyalty from your own clients. However, the level of success is dependent on hotels having a good data-collection strategy, segmenting customers into key interest groups and quality of the offer. These sites should only be used as a filler, to aid cash-flow or to raise awareness.