Groupon today made another move to build up one of its vertical marketplaces: today the company said it would add 20,000 more hotels to its Groupon Getaways travel portal. This is one step in a series, Groupon tells me: the next will be to integrate last-minute bookings from Blink, the HotelTonight competitor that Groupon acquired last year.
Currently, Blink is still operating as a standalone app, called Blink by Groupon. For now that will remain, although at the blink of an eye, it sounds like Blink may soon be disappearing as a brand.
“Blink will continue to offer the same great deals with the same great properties through the Blink by Groupon app for the time being,” a spokesperson says. “Adding last-minute inventory to Groupon Getaways is an obvious next step following our acquisition of Blink. We hope to have more information to share with you on this soon.”
The offering will be available first in the U.S. and Canada via the web and Groupon’s mobile app. It will also be rolled out globally later this year, the company says.
Groupon says the 20,000 new hotels come by way of an affiliate relationship with Expedia. To encourage users to go to Groupon for their travel searches over Expedia (or anwhere else), it’s offering them a 5% rebate in the form of “Groupon Bucks” — the company’s loyalty currency — for each reservation made. Offerings across the site — as you might expect from a company built around flash sales — come with discounts, in Groupon’s case of up to 60%.
Groupon Getaways has been around since 2011, but it’s only in the last several months that Groupon has been taking its travel ambitions up into higher gear.
It goes along with a wider push at Groupon to expand in other vertical marketplaces — a complement the company’s other strategy of growing its presence in local commerce with more mobile and point-of-sale solutions.
Just last week, the company acquired flash fashion site ideeli for $43 million to build out its fashion offerings. Up to now, fashion was part of the bigger mix, but in future perhaps it may too become a standalone offering like Getaways.
As we pointed out last week, Groupon’s last quarterly results from November 2013 showed sales of $595.1 million, missing analysts’ estimates but beating on EPS of $0.02. The company needs to continue to develop more products that are diversified from each other and “beyond the daily deal” (to paraphrase co-founder and ex-CEO Andrew Mason) to keep current customers loyal, and to attract new ones, too.
Tapping into the travel industry, worth trillions of dollars globally, could be a five-star option for trying to do just that.