Social buying and Flash sale sites: Generating revenue and creating loyalty within hospitality and private online travel clubs?

An interesting debate is going on within the hospitality and travel trade: should they participate in social buying/flash sale sites to supply fresh competitive deals?

The new kids on the block…private online clubs with exclusive hand-picked travel offers and very attractive savings of 60-70% off hotel rack rates and brochure prices….all with a limited time span, typically a few days or as as flash sale. The take up has been incredible. In line with the current love affair with social buying sites such as groupon, kgbdeals and other popular discounting and flash sale sites, they are emerging as a new distribution channel, poised to change the way consumers view their buying decisions.

The hospitality and travel trade are not sure of what to make of them. Some fear they are a reaction of the recessionary buying trends, while others are eager to jump on the band wagon. The emerging picture is that the field is divided. There are hoteliers who think that social buying/flash sites will ultimately lead to price and brand erosion, damaging the long term price integrity and overall online revenues. And there are the hoteliers who are more interested in the immediate results, filling rooms that may otherwise remain empty. Re-active? Certainly, but happy to exploit the here and now approach of this buying phenomena.

The fears being discussed include the fact that there is an oversaturation of players, leading to market share and revenue corrosion, consolidation and failures, together with a significant weakening from industry suppliers which will probably result in a weakening demand from the members of these sites. Loyalty may not even play any part in the decision making process.

According to Hitwise the popularity of flash sale websites with limited time & inventory offerings have grown exponentially over the two years. Online shoppers’ love for the thrill of snagging a bargain, be in experiences, travel, designer clothing, home décor, restaurant visit, beauty and spa treatments and even wine have caused visits to the category to increase 368% in July 2011 as compared to the same month two years ago and 109% one year ago.

Industry Update: Research shows that Historic Venues should revisit their catering offer

Industry Insights: Hospitality and Historical Venues

The Mintel UK Leisure Venue Catering Report, issued in March 2011, highlights two areas that are of interest for historical venues: catering and the emerging fast and casual yet quality-driven experience.

According to the research, historic venues need to better incorporate their catering offer into the overall personality of the venue in order to increase usage and drive sales. At present, a third of visitors to historic venues think that catering is all part of the experience. This obviously highlights the fact that there is plenty of room for improvement.

The other emerging trend is the fast and casual food experience. Visitors are increasingly looking for the “fast and casual experience” where they can round off their visit with fast, but “real” fresh food that should also be highly customisable. Capitalising on this trend would help venues tap into the third of visitors to historic venues who are looking for a quick bite or snack rather than a full meal but who are looking for quality fresh food.

Private Members’ Clubs: How do you recruit the right new members?

Private members’ clubs have been part of the British landscape since the late 17th century. They may have changed in their aims (and members’ behaviours) but they are still true to a key principle common to many private members’ clubs: exclusivity.

Private members clubs may range from the contemporary, fashionable water holes to the familiar, wood-panelled comfort of the gentlemen’s club scene. However, common to all is the essence of their offering…an exclusive and coveted haven, a comfortable space to relax with friends. In London, in addition to the more established private members clubs, they have been joined by a new wave of trendy clubs with bespoke or themed lounges, dining rooms, private rooms and night clubs.

Many of these clubs have memberships with a waiting list of years, rather than months. Others struggle to retain the interest of their members and attract new ones. They find themselves grappling with social media, emerging trends in technology, and a market positioning that may need updating. Their brand identity may have taken a battering from a dwindling brand footprint and a younger generation that still wants exclusivity but is also looking unique and stunning venues with a wow factor, somewhere where they can hang out with colleagues, clients and friends.

Membership thrives when there is a perceived value attached to the offering. If members feel that the value is decreasing, they will not renew but will move on to other clubs. Findings in a recent report on membership organisations indicated that during 2010, price was not the top driver responsible for non-renewals – contrary to findings in the 2009 study. In fact, one-third of the respondents believed that members did not renew because they perceived a lack of value in the organization. This was an increase of about 80% over the previous year.

So what is the solution? Free memberships? Exclusive events? How do you control the calibre of your membership list yet attract enough new members to stay profitable, exclusive and “coveted”?

There are 130 private members’ clubs in London alone, and the driver behind any successful club is to foster loyalty among your VIP members, remain exciting in your offering yet still cater to their tastes. A tall order but a significantly important factor to retain and recruit the right calibre of members.

Market Accents has been working with membership organisations and private members’ clubs for many years. We have successfully created brand identities and communication programmes based on targeted segmentation, an understanding of members’ requirements and a pulse on the market. For more information, kindly contact us at We are always happy to have a chat.

Understanding Markets

We have just finished putting together industry-specific, country market maps for a client. A lot of effort and research has gone into them, but – what a level of understanding when you then look at them in detail!

Market Maps come in many guises. We consider them an important element in our work, whether we are carrying out strategic reviews, market segmentation or value and supply chain analysis. Together with competitive landscapes, where we plot our clients next to their competition within a market and competitive attractiveness matrix, we find that market maps help us to focus attention on key elements within the market space. For our clients, the graphic representations help with the visualisation of the power play in the markets.

What are Market Maps?
We prefer to look at them as playing fields, where we highlight the terrain, understand the strategies and the power struggles at play. We have developed our own unique methodologies, tools and presentation for market mapping. In our work, market maps help us identify key customer and consumer insights, and ensures we have full awareness of the the total market place.