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Will Groupon emerge as a larger player in online hotel sales? It’s possible, but the necessary focus probably isn’t there, and flash sales aren’t on anyone’s 2014 trends list.
After some A/B testing, Groupon for the first time has added a distinct ‘hotels’ tab to its mobile apps as a way to better-merchandise its lodging offerings.
The hotels tab defaults to users’ current locations for a same-day booking, although the offerings, as a rule, aren’t tonight-only deals.
The idea is to enable consumers searching for hotels to find them easier without having to go through the catch-all Getaways tab, which includes flash sales for hotels and vacation packages, as well as cruise and car rental deals.
Under the new hotels tab, users can search for stays via flash sales and alternately choose “market picks.”
Groupon has been taking a much higher profile in the travel industry as it recently eliminated its co-branding with Expedia for Groupon Getaways, and is sourcing all of its own flash-sales deals.
The user experience in the new hotels tab in Groupon’s mobile apps can be confusing.
For example, the first screen shows rooms at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel New York for $199 for tonight, April 3.
The next screen says the rate is $119 per night (limited availability) and that there are 12 hours and 17 minutes left in a flash sale.
When you tap “Select Dates,” it defaults to April 3, and it is back to the $199 rate, with a calendar showing varying rates throughout the next few months.
That the time that $119 rate was available, according to the calendar, was for a stay on May 26, and if you wanted to stay at the property on May 13, then the rate would be $309.
That doesn’t make for a satisfying user experience.
The hotels tab is mobile only for now, and hasn’t made its way to Groupon.com.