First Travel Deals Go Live as Groupon and Expedia Partnership Takes Off

Groupon’s partnership with Expedia went live late this evening, offering a dozen or so travel discounts that let people book hotel rooms and airfare at half the cost for destinations around the world.

The partnership was originally announced at the D Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., right before Groupon CEO Andrew Mason appeared on stage. In a video, I interview Mason and Scott Durchslag, Expedia’s president, which is at the bottom of this post.

So far, there’s about a dozen discounts being offered on Groupon, from domestic trips to Denver to more tropical vacations in Tahiti. The deals maintain the same style as the daily deal vouchers we have all started to become accustomed to.

For example, for $79, you can buy a one-night weekday stay for two at the Pointe Hotel in Cavendish, Vt., representing a 53 percent savings. A one-night stay in a luxury mineral spa resort in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan costs $130 (Canadian), which is 54 percent off. On the upper end is a $1,000 voucher — it costs $500 — that can be applied toward a Tahitian vacation package or toward airfare, hotel or tours once you arrive at the destination.

Together, Groupon and Expedia are entering a crowded market, ranging from Groupon’s next-nearest competitor LivingSocial’s own branded Escapes business to other companies, such as Gilt Groupe’s Jetsetter and even Overstock.com.

One of the value propositions that the two are offering is making the fine print as straightforward as possible. For example, once a customer purchases a voucher, they will be able to redeem it over the next year based on availability, and that they’ll do their best to avoid the dreaded blackout travel dates.

Most of the offers on the site expire in the next six or seven days.

Despite only being posted for a short time, the Tahiti vacation already has one customer confused. In a comment, a customer asks: “I would like to buy this for myself and my wife. Can I buy 2 and she buy 2 from her account and we use it towards our package ??? since ur allowed to use 2 per person … the other question is, if I am interested in 3-4 nights vacation, how much would the arifare would be around Nov 2011.”

Maybe it’s still not as easy to understand as they thought?


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