We're not sure that there's more of a market for flash sales now than there was in 2013, but we do know that expectations are vastly lower. And we know that Secret Escapes is now the only real player with this deal, its own site, and a similar agreement with, ironically, Jetsetter.
Jetsetter still sees value in flash sales but it is such a small part of parent company TripAdvisor's overall business that it saw value in farming out that part of the business to Secret Escapes, which focuses on flash sales 24/7.
Flash sales or not, travelers will find value in Secret Escapes if it can indeed negotiate exclusive deals.
Travel is still a relatively small portion of the overall Groupon business, although the segment notched solid revenue growth in the third quarter. The issue for Groupon in travel is whether a standalone app will make much of a difference as the popularity of flash sales seems to be diminishing.
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.
Groupon and Expedia have downgraded their partnership. Whether it was a mutual decision as both parties claim or push came to shove, it was clear that these two big brands weren't going to smoothly co-exist forever.
Starwood's new hotel flash sales site has little flash, and it is a bad move to jump through hoops about your exclusive sales when in reality you can find the same hotel deals all over the Internet. Bad move.
This is just further confirmation of something we already knew: That travel deals often aren't really deals. Several sties, such as DealAngel and DealBase, have tried to make businesses of out vetting deals, but they never got really far.
TripAdvisor didn't buy Jetsetter to have it sit in the background, and the impending doom of SniqueAway is the logical next step.
The move outwardly appears to make sense for LivingSocial: If you are attracting a lot of traffic among users who aren't interested in your flash sales, why not diversify and get them to reserve a different hotel. Just how the economics plays out in the end remains to be seen.