Groupon.com is becoming an increasingly popular discount site to buy anything from jewellery to fine-dining experiences. It also offers a wide selection of worldwide travel options, advertised at slashed rates.
However, discount websites do not necessarily offer the cheapest rate. On a recent trip to New York, I booked my hotel through a discounted travel site, naturally believing this would be the cheapest rate, until I stumbled upon the hotel’s rate posted on their website—I was actually paying more through the discounted website! Thankfully I was able to cancel my original booking and re-book with the cheaper rate.
I’ve since become a more educated discount website shopper, researching the actual price of the item or service before I make a purchase. Since then I have received fantastic deals like 80 per cent off a salon-quality blow dryer and 60 per cent off a three-month yoga package.
We decided to do the heavy lifting for our readers and put this theory to the test by comparing vacation packages through Groupon’s Getaway Deals with direct online bookings. Here’s what we found!
Vacation deal #1—Dominican Republic beach resort
Location: Punta Cana, Dominion Republic
Deal: Seven-night, all-inclusive stay at the Caribe Club Princess Beach Resort
Details: Roundtrip airfare and all-inclusive amenities in the Superior Room
Dates: April 25–May 2
Fine print: Airfare through selected US cities, and prices in USD
Groupon.com: $799/person (note: in USD)
While booking through Groupon seems to save you $253/person, the exchange rate alone will eat up your savings. Plus, the biggest challenge with this deal is that the flight departure is only available through selected American cities like Baltimore, New York, Cleveland, Fort Lauderdale, and San Francisco, to name a few. So unless you happen to live within close proximity to one of these cities (which is geographically unlikely if you live in Canada), the hassle and cost of merely travelling to a selected airport is not worth the overall hassle.
Need more info? Try these Groupon tutorials from Techboomers
Vacation deal #2—New York City hotel
Location: Manhattan, New York
Details: Weekend stay for two in a King Room at the Manhattan at Times Square Hotel
Dates: Any weekend (Friday–Monday) in February
Fine print: Date cannot be changed once booked and deal is non-refundable
Hotel website: $132.53/night
While this package does not include airfare, the difference of $23.53/night for the hotel adds up to a total weekend savings of $70.59, giving you extra pocket cash to splurge on dinner or shopping.
Vacation deal #3—Colorado ski resort
Location: Crested Butte, Colorado
Details: Weekend stay for two in a Deluxe King Room at the Elevation Hotel & Spa
Dates: March 6–8
Fine print: Date cannot be changed once booked and deal is non-refundable; does not include ski rental or equipment
Hotel website: $242/night (flash sale)
The cheapest rate for the same package through the hotel website was a flash sale of $242/night. Otherwise, the rate for this room could go as high as $388/night, which would mean a savings of $239/night! The difference for two nights alone could pay for your plane ticket to Colorado.
The moral of the story is that yes, Groupon typically offers lower rates, but you have to do your research and read the fine print to ensure you’re saving enough to make the trip worthwhile.
Generally, these getaway packages do not include insurance to cover medical emergencies, trip cancellation, or lost/stolen luggage, so always ensure you have a travel insurance plan that will take care of your needs.
For more information on medical and non-medical plans for Canadian travellers, click here.