Meetup Perks Helps Local Groups Find Local Sponsors

Everybody, it seems, is getting in on the local offers game. Now, so is Meetup, one of the most local sites out there, with Meetup Perks. Meetup Perks just launched today, with the aim to make it easier for local businesses to find groups to sponsor by offering discounts and other deals.

There are about 80,000 groups on Meetup, including everything from tech meetups and car enthusiasts to hiking and cooking groups. About 30,000 businesses already offer some of these groups deals, discounts, and other perks from local businesses. For instance, the Houston JeepPeople Meetup sometimes meets at one of its sponsors, a truck parts supplier, which also offers members a 5 percent discount. Members of the Las Vegas Hiking and Outdoor Meetup get a 30 percent discount at a local sporting goods store. But up until now these sponsorships have all been informal and done directly between the groups and local merchants.

With Meetup Perks, Meetup is creating a self-serve platform that makes it easier for merchants to find groups to sponsor and for group organizers to opt into receiving deal offers. Local businesses can search groups by location and topic, and then enter the type of sponsorship they are willing to provide—which can range from a group discount to a place to meet. Instead of taking a cut of each deal, Meetup will charge an ongoing fee of $5 per group that decides to take advantage of each offer. Although to kickstart the effort, fees will be waived through March 15 to the first 5,000 businesses that sign up.

Meetup Perks is modeled on the age-old practice of the hardware store sponsoring the Little League team. It is more about creating customer loyalty and goodwill targeted to people by group affinity. The rewards are supposed to be ongoing, rather than one-off promotions.