Groupon Getaways with Expedia debuted with a hodge-podge of international hotel offers, and plenty of Expedia advertising.
The initial deals ranged from a one-night stay for $89 (including an all-access pass, gaming credit and breakfast buffet for two) at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas to a five-night stay for four people at $1,497 in a two-bedroom Tower Club at Lebua Signature Suite in Bangrak, Bangkok.
In typical flash sales fashion, you have about a week to buy the deals, and a minimum number of people have to purchase the deals for them to become effective.
And, at least one of the deals appeared at first glance like all the rest, with the hours and seconds ticking down before the deal expires, but in reality it was different.
Instead of being able to purchase a complete stay from a hotel, this deal was offering, for a $500 price tag, a $1,000 voucher toward Tahitian vacation packages from Classic Vacations, an Expedia brand.
All of the deals come with a lengthy description, some in the form of bylined articles and some without bylines.
For example, the Palms Casino Resort deal comes with a bylined piece from travel correspondent Jorie Larsen. The 6-paragraph story described the hotel and its "pulsating nightlife," and detailed some of the things you can do "on and off The Strip."
The editorial slant clearly was a bow to the way Travelzoo and SmarterTravel vet their deals, albeit with perhaps a little less rigor because the verbiage on Groupon Getaways appears to be more marketing-focused.
The attempt to provide an editorial focus can also be found in Groupon's statement beneath the deals about its "Handpicked Destinations: "Our travel experts and writers research every getaway for you."
The editorial descriptions are branded Getaway Reports, and there is also a useful tab describing the Fine Print & Details.
The Groupon Getaways, of course, are designed to be booked on Groupon.com.
However, Expedia gets in some extra advertising and links because the Groupon Getaways come with snippets of user reviews from Expedia.com. When you select the reviews, you navigate to an Expedia.com page where you can read the reviews in full and book the hotel in the traditional, online travel agency manner.
For example, when you view the Groupon Getaway for the Cosmopolitan Hotel Toronto (a one-night stay for two for $199 in a Lotus Suite, including $25 food and beverage voucher, parking, Internet, late checkout and breakfast for two), and then select one of the Expedia user reviews on the page, you navigate to an Expedia.com page which says you can book a stay at the hotel from $195.
So when you consider the advertising for Classic Vacations and the links to Expedia.com, then Groupon Getaways is definitely a new advertising vehicle for Expedia in addition to being a revenue generator.
Groupon Getaways with Expedia in the U.S. offers international hotel packages, but Groupon has not yet launched its getaways for international points of sale, although it plans to do so.