Must admit, when I first heard of Groupon Getaway deals, I let out a sarcastic “puh.” Not until recently a friend sent me a deal to Dubai: flight, hotel, city tour, and airport transfer included. And you know what I did? I booked it! But not immediately.
First I checked out the tour company’s website, their Facebook, the reviews, the FAQ’s, the flights, and hotel. Chatted with a Groupon representative. Spoke with a representative from the tour company. To my surprise, it was legit! Not only did we book the vacation itself, but a few other activities from Groupon using the same strategies booking the vacation. We were able to book great activities without going through the travel company, paying extra money. This is so not like me! Let’s just say my trip was exhilarating, and never thought to be the one to say I booked a vacation through Groupon. There will be more details about the trip in a later post, but here’s a sneak peek!
Groupon Getaways is a hub for tour companies and hotels to sell vacations at an extremely discounted price. You’d purchase the Groupon, and will get a voucher. You’d contact the company directly and book! Tour companies may include the hotel, flight, and activities for a certain amount of days. If there is a flight included, it may only be for a select number of airports. If that is the case, you can contact the company to see if you can pay extra to leave from your airport. But you can more than likely book a separate flight to the airport of choice cheaper (that is what I did). Before you choose a date to purchase your Groupon, make sure you can find a decent deal on your connecting flight. You’d want to ensure you can get there.
You may get a travel agent who is your point of contact before and throughout the trip. They are responsible for sending you all documentation about the trip and will answer all of your dying questions. BUT before you book, take these things into consideration.
Read The Fine Print
Typically the fine print is listed on the side panel or separate tab called “FINE PRINT & DETAILS.” It will tell you how many people included, extra fees, age limit, cancellation restrictions, refund policy, and much more you will need to know about your trip. Also, there is a trip details section. It tells you things such as itinerary, how many nights, what’s included such as hotel transfers, lunch, activities, etc. The title of the trip can be alluring, but reading the fine print, you may find out that it may not be the best trip for you. Even though the trip may sound exciting, don’t get carried away and make a rash decision on a nonrefundable voucher. READ READ READ!
Check Out The Company’s Website
A lot of Groupon deals are from tour companies and hotels. Who are they? There will be a link to the company’s website on the right panel if you are on a desktop computer. If the website is not professional giving details about their business, what they do, location, proper grammar, and appealing fonts: I’d suggest you move on. A legitimate company would spend the money to make sure their website is appealing to potential clients.
From the company’s website should be links or icons to their social media page(s). If it is not, try searching for them on social media platforms. I choose Facebook because, on business pages, past clients can leave reviews that you can read. If you cannot find the company on social media, move on! To me, it means the company is either just starting, or does not take their business serious enough.
Check Out The Company’s Social Media
What established company wouldn’t have a social media account now in days? Exactly! So make sure you do not skip this step. When checking out their social media, make sure there are current posts, and they pertain to the services they provide (vacation, flights, tour, etc.). If there are tons of posts such as Donald Trump, sports, and very little about their services; move on! A legit company would want a better social media presence.
Read The Reviews
If there are reviews from Groupon, it will display in a separate area at the bottom. You’d see how many stars, but not all of comments left by past customers are viewable. But that’s ok! You can find reviews on the company’s Facebook including their website. If you are not able to read customer reviews, move on. They could be hiding something.
Another good website to check out the reviews is Travelzoo. I spoke about Travelzoo in How to Spot a Fake Hotel Review, and received backlash talking negatively about people’s most precious Travelzoo. Travelzoo is very popular and an excellent way to check out reviews. But that still doesn’t stop companies from posting fake reviews. Actually, I was able to “swerve” a Groupon for an Abu Dhabi excursion by checking Travelzoo. There were many reviews of how the tour company didn’t pick them up at the hotel, how the tour was rushed, etc. Some flat out said DO NOT GO WITH THIS COMPANY. So I didn’t. We ended up booking through Viator, which cost a bit more, but with a more established company, and better reviews. And you know what? The tour was great!
How do you best learn other than listening? Ask questions! Lot’s of them. Do not assume the company will include a particular activity, or that there aren’t any extra fees. Ask, straight up! I chatted with a Groupon representative online via chat, and with the actual company over the phone before booking. This lasted for about for 2-3 days after answering all my questions. When booking activities, I chatted via email for various reasons. It would have cost extra money calling to Dubai. But I did call the hotel using Google Voice to make sure we were booked, despite it being handled by our travel agent of the tour company. It only cost a few cents per minute.
If you are not sure what questions to ask after doing the above, as yourself: who, what, when, where, and how? For instance: who will be picking us up? What type of vehicle? When, day and time? Where, hotel? How much (extra)? You can throw why in there to sound like a childish brat. Why not? It is your vacation!
For me, it doesn’t matter if the travel agent booked the hotel and activities for you. They should be able to release the information to you weeks before your trip. I’d recommend calling or emailing the company’s website to verify booking at least two weeks prior your hotel, flight, and/or activities booked. I’d also recommend calling the companies directly such as for tours, rental, etc., even though the actual company may have taken care of it. Hey, people mess up.
Now I am a Groupon believer! (Maybe a bit of a Nazi now that I am reading over this again). But I am serious about my vacations, and you should too!) And the beautiful thing about it, you can sign up for email alerts. But you can find very cheap travel deals if you know where to look to make travel planning less time-consuming. CHEAP IS NOT ALWAYS BEST. Check out the reviews to make sure you don’t get gypped on experience. Groupon is a great site to start your search. Click here for more websites where I find the best travel deals on a budget. Sign up for those email alerts!