For travel junkies who want to book a trip without breaking the bank, Groupon has been a go-to site for discounted travel destinations since 2011. Boasting bargains like “10-Day Greece Vacation with Hotels and Nonstop Air from $999 a person,” it’s hard not to get excited at the prospects of seeing the world while still maintaining your 401(k).
However, after looking at the prices and picturesque stock photos, you might begin to wonder what the catch is. You’re not alone. We looked to get to the bottom of Groupon travel vouchers. Are they a good deal or too good to be true? Let’s find out.
Pro: The Travel Discounts Are Decent
Groupon Getaways offers over 1,000 travel deals for hotels, excursions, cruises and group trips from domestic to abroad. You can search by destination, interests and dates in order to find your dream vacation.
They’re constantly featuring new travel destinations and deals that fall under two types of Getaways: Flash Deals and Market Picks.
If you’re more flexible with your destination, you can take advantage of Flash Deals, exclusive deals that boasts 15 – 17% off of three- to five-star hotels. The standard Groupon trips are called Market Picks, which are essentially the same as Flash Deals, without the same level of discount.
Both deals offer highly-ranked hotels and destinations at great value. You can check out star ratings and customer reviews to get other travelers’ opinions, too.
Con: There Are a Few Hidden Fees
Unfortunately, if you read the fine print, you’ll notice that the advertised price does not normally include airfare, and if it does, it can significantly alter the price – especially if you depart from an airport not listed on the voucher deal.
The amount you pay for a voucher also doesn’t include taxes or any fees, so you’ll want to check the fine print to see what you’ll be charged upon booking or check-in. A few examples of fine print include:
- Voucher expiration dates
- Blackout travel dates
- Cancellation fees
- Baggage fees
- Solo travel fees
You’ll want to make sure you plan accordingly, factoring in the cost of airfare and additional fees before booking your trip. You can also contact the travel company that’s sponsoring the travel deal to get more information – that is, if they have a good customer service staff. We’ll discuss that later!
Pro: The Groupon Platform Is Easy to Use
Anyone who has used Groupon, for travel or otherwise, knows that the platform is relatively simple and easy to use. All the steps are pretty straightforward, and the platform will direct you to the next steps as you go. You’ll be able to read the fine print and details, too.
Here’s how it works for Getaways: The travel vouchers are packages that come from third-party travel agencies that pay Groupon to advertise on their platform. After you buy a travel voucher on Groupon, you’re sent over to the travel agency that listed the deal to redeem your voucher code, book your airfare, choose your departure dates and finish booking your trip.
Con: The Travel Agency… Not So Much
This past winter, I attempted to book a trip to Ireland using a Groupon travel voucher that I purchased on the platform. Unfortunately, the travel company that listed the voucher had an issue with their booking system, and I was unable to complete the booking of my trip, leaving my Groupon voucher pretty useless.
Luckily, I was able to get ahold of a Groupon customer support agent and cancel my Groupon voucher with a full refund. Which brings me to my next point – not every travel agency will offer a great experience when it comes to booking your trip.
For example, when I went to redeem my Groupon voucher on the travel agency’s website, I noticed that their website was down and unable to book my trip, and I was prompted to call a customer service number. After 30 minutes on hold, I felt like something fishy was up. After five days, I threw in the towel and get my voucher refunded on Groupon.
The lesson here is to do your homework on the travel agency before purchasing the Groupon by calling the company directly and reading reviews from those who have previously traveled with the company.
Pro: The Structured Itinerary Is Good for First-Time Travelers
For those who haven’t traveled abroad or even cross-country, Groupon travel vouchers come in handy for structured itineraries chock-full of experiences and excursions. If you’re new to travel, it’s a good way to take the stress out of traveling, as most everything is booked and planned out for you.
Each Groupon Getaways itinerary is fairly detailed, listing flights (if applicable), hotels, attractions, meals and even lists of optional tours and upgrades you can add to the schedule and cost of the tour.
All you have to do after you’ve finished booking is print out all of your reservations, your itinerary and any documentation that lists your hotel or group travel confirmation numbers.
Con: The Number of Days Can Be Misleading
If the advertised deal reads X amount of days, be advised that the days include travel, meaning you’ll at least spend two days of your trip on a plane – especially if the flight is abroad. This means that if the trips advertises seven days, you’ll most likely only have five days of actual vacation, including attractions, tours, sightseeing, etc.
There are also specific dates that you can book for the trip – and they’re all typically off-season – meaning, your price may not only rise due to airfare costs, but by the date you choose to depart.
Additionally, most flight departs on “off” days, meaning you’ll most likely leave and return on a weekday. It’s important to choose your travel days wisely, as they don’t offer a lot of flexibility and can drastically alter the cost of your trip.
You’ll notice that while a majority of the pros are about the experience of the trip, many of the cons are financial. While the Groupon platform boasts great deals and an easy-to-use interface that provides the opportunity to enjoy a trip without the stress of planning, you need to be aware of the travel dates listed, as well as the extra costs of airfare and any hidden fees that may arise during booking.
If you’re looking to travel more in 2018, and you want to give Groupon Getaways a go, make sure you read the fine print before booking your next vacation.
Have you purchased a Groupon travel voucher for your vacation? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!
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