News | Distribution | OnlineHotel flash sales are often more "flash" than "sale", finds studyThis article was originally published onBy Karthick Prabu | December 9, 2013 How much do you really save when you make a booking through one of the flash/private sale sites like Jetsetter, Voyage Prive, and Vacationist?A new study says the savings might be almost 10 percentage points less than the advertised discount.To find an answer, EveryLodge, the flash sales aggregator for hotels and resorts (TLabs, here), has tracked about 15,000 sales across major sites.It tracked deals at Bungolow, Expedia ASAP, Groupon Getaways, Jetsetter, LivingSocial, Luxury Link, SniqueAway, Spire, Tablet, Travesse, TripAlertz, Vacationist, Voyage Privé, and Yuupon, among other sites.Its key discoveries are presented below.Savings: Advertised versus actualEveryLodge found that the average advertised discount was 48%. But that figure does not accurately reflect actual savings, it says, because the sale sites often calculate discounts based on a hotel’s rack rates. (Rooms are frequently available elsewhere online for less.)If a hotel is willing to hold a flash sale for unsold inventory on particular dates, it has probably also discounted rates on those dates through other channels.So, EveryLodge compared sale/deal prices with prices on mainstream hotel booking sites like Expedia for the same dates.By doing this, the researchers revealed that the actual discount of an average flash sale is 39%.Top deal sitesUsing the methodology explained above, EveryLodge worked out the actual savings across the sites that it track by comparing the rate offered through the sale with the rate on Expedia.The results show that the generalist flash sale sites LivingSocial and Groupon (which sell everything from helicopter rides to yoga lessons) actually offer better discounts than dedicated travel sites like Jetsetter and Vacationist.The best discounts are on LivingSocial and Groupon with 53% and 47% respectively, according to the study.Vacationist is the worst performing sale site with an average discount of a mere 24%. High-end hotels and flash dealsThe average sale price per night varied considerably across the sites. Groupon takes the prize for the cheapest hotels, at an average of $104, compared to the average sale price of $135 (per room per night). Groupon's bargain status is partly due to the fact that the company featured more lower-end hotels than its competitors did.What do hotel owners think of flash sales?The study says it has enough data to more accurately deduce the attitude of hotels towards flash sales. The most notable point is that most of the hotels that held flash sales did not follow up with a second sale, suggesting a certain degree of dissatisfaction with what happened the first time around.When hotel flash sales started becoming popular, a number of commentators said that high-end hotels would be unlikely to participate because of the risk to their brands.The study shows that reality turned out differently. There have been a lot of sales for some very fine hotels, though it is true that none of the large, very high-end brands have partnered with flash sale sites.Below are the overall results: Among the sales tracked for 6,208 hotels, about 40% held more than one sale, and about 13% held three or more salesSome hotels held a great many more salesAcanto Boutique Hotel and Suites in Playa del Carmen tops the chart by offering 17 salesOf the hotels that held three or more sales, 41% used more than one sale site, suggesting that they are experimenting with different platforms and do not show any particular loyalty to a particular sale siteWhere are the hotels using flash sale sites located?North America, especially the US and Mexico topped the list of countries that offer hotel flash deals. The number of hotels (offering deals) in North America is double than hotels in Europe, which ranked number two.Unsurprisingly, the Caribbean ranks high on the list. Despite the popularity of Asia as a tourist destination for both Americans and Europeans, only 244 hotels in Asia held a flash sale.NB: Sale image via Shutterstock.