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Writer tests Groupon's new travel offers


Others have done it before. So how is Groupon doing with online travel agency Expedia’s offering group travel discounts with savings of up to 60 percent?

They were not the first to come up with the idea.

"Other Web-based companies, including and, also act as Internet intermediaries, linking consumers with excess inventory at hotels, restaurants, cruise lines and even airlines. And bricks-and-mortar travel agents have passed along similar types of discounts to clients for years," writes  Susan Glaser at the Cleveland Plain Dealer

She tested the offer. Her conclusions:

In general, the deals can be a boon to consumers, she found. But users should be sure to do some research before buying.

She quotes industry analyst Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group who has several suggestions such as finding out whether the travel is timed right for buyers and which blackout dates apply; making sure the deal is one not already offered by other travel groups such as AAA; and trying to ensure that reservations can be made fairly easy, which has been an issue at times for Groupon customers who had to wait several hours on the phone.

"Finally, make sure that any add-on to your overnight -- a credit for a restaurant, spa service or tee time -- is something that you actually intend to use, otherwise the deal may not be such a steal," she writes.

"It's really important to know what you're getting," Harteveldt said.

Writer Glaser booked a one-night deal, for $89, (a normal $159 value) at the Ohio resort of Quail Hollow, which included a $50 credit at the resort's fine-dining restaurant, CK's Steakhouse. The deal included $75 to spend at the restaurant.

She said she spent more money than the coupon but that overall the experience was a positive one.

"I'm not complaining. It was just the pick-me-up I needed to get me through January in Northeast Ohio," she wrote.

By David Wilkening

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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