This time last year all the travel industry buzz – some good but so much of it negative – was about the daily deal websites, which had exploded into the public consciousness over the previous 12 months. They had moved through other industries – massage, teeth whitening, restaurants – like locusts through a wheat field. Now it was travel’s turn.
Travel was particularly attractive for the deal sites. Relatively high prices meant relatively fat profits.
Many of the bigger operations – Groupon, LivingSocial, Cudo, OurDeal and Ensogo in Asia – set up travel divisions while several specialist sites like TravelCandy and Biggest Travel Deals joined the fray.
The sector was white hot. Dedicated sessions at No Vacancy Thailand and TRAVELtech Sydney were eagerly anticipated and well attended.
There was a lot of talk, intense debate about the business model which demanded travel suppliers offer dramatically discounted product while paying deal sites commissions of 50%.
However few of the big operators got on board, partly because they were restricted by global pricing agreements with the large Online Travel Agents, but also for other more base reasons.
The simple fact is many in the industry didn’t (and don’t) actually like the daily deal sites, the ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’ way they do business.
The relentless cold calling by callow sales people who have no idea of how travel – or any other industry for that matter – actually functions; the ‘me me me’ culture of the sites, the lack of give and all take.
Yes, people were talking.
Now that conversation has run out of puff.
A couple of the specialist operators have closed (TravelCandy and Biggest Travel Deals), Getaway Lounge has merged with Cudo, while there have been several prominent departures from the travel divisions of the large operators.
You don’t hear much about them these days, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that daily deal sites are, like, so 2011.