Are Daily Deal sites the right marketing tactic for a special event?

The Daily Deal phenomenon certainly outlasted the “fad” phase.  It even appears to be more than a "trend".  It has become a sustainable, viable marketing tactic.

A lot of good has come from the Daily Deal sites.  Companies, brands and retailers have all come to consider the pros and cons of this relatively new marketing opportunity.  For some companies the Daily Deal model doesn’t work, for others, it works quite well.  So much so, that they continue to offer deals over and over.

I perused the daily sites of Groupon and Living Social (even though I receive daily e-mails) to see all of the different kinds of deals that are listed.  Obviously, yoga is an extremely popular business model for Daily Deal sites.  There were many restaurants listed along with manicures/pedicures, roller skating and, of course, my favorite bowling alley in the whole world, Fireside Bowl.  These companies really seem to find value in the Daily Deal business model.  Good for them.

As I put together my thoughts for today’s blog it occurred to me that I’m posing a question I don’t have the answer to.  Is it my responsibility to pose the question and answer it? If the intention of this blog is to be informative than I must admit, I’m writing this post because I’m confused about an event marketing tactic that I just don’t understand.

I’ve asked this question to several of my event colleagues over the years and nobody seems to have a thorough explanation.  I don’t understand how an event manager is OK offering a Daily Deal for their event? Doesn't that hurt the event attendee that loves the event most?

Yes, the question is dramatic but hear out my exaggerated example …

I’m a HUGE Aerosmith Fan.  I’ve been to at least 7 Aerosmith concerts in my life.  I wouldn’t miss a chance to see them for anything.  The minute the tickets go on-sale I am on-line with credit card in hand to buy my tickets.  Typically, I like to buy lawn seats.  After a long drawn out winter, the idea of sitting out on the lawn at First Midwest Bank Amphitheater, drinking a beer and listening to some classic rock sounds like the makings of a perfect summer night.  I’m exactly the target demographic the concert producer is seeking.

So how is it that 3 weeks after the tickets go on-sale the promoter decides to offer a Groupon for half or a third of the ticket price I paid? I’m the target market.  I’m who this concert is for.  I’m the loyal fan who paid attention to the marketing, followed the promoter on twitter, listened to the radio and bought my tickets when I was supposed to.  Now three weeks later, there’s a Living Social Deal for half off.  How is that right?

The difference between an event and a yoga class is that an event is perishable.  The Aerosmith concert is only going to happen for a clear and distinct amount of time.  It’s only going to be one night.  If a yoga class sells lots of Groupons the studio can add extra instructors, offer multiple classes and patrons just have to schedule their classes further out.  It’s still not possible to clone Steven Tyler and offer multiple Aerosmith concerts at the same time.

That being said, isn’t the event organizer hurting the ones that love them most by offering a Daily Deal option?

Aerosmith

Another example is the Third Rail Music Festival.  I’ve seen some promotion for this festival throughout the city.  It looks and sounds like a lot of fun.  I checked out the website and considered buying a pair of tickets.  But as part of my research for this blog post I noticed Third Rail Music Festival was offering a deal for over 40% off the ticket price on the event website.

I guess if the event posted on its website, “HEY CHECK OUT THIS LINK TO GROUPON AND PURCHASE YOUR DISCOUNTED TICKETS THERE!” I could perhaps see some validity in it, but it still doesn’t solve my issue of offending the event patron who loves you most. Who’s thinking about the guest who paid full price when the event first went on sale and now is standing next to someone who paid 44% less 3 weeks after the tickets went on sale?

I’m left with an unanswered question.  The only conclusion I can draw from this is to recommend that event organizers consider the patrons who care the most about your event.  They’re the ones that you should be working to accommodate.  They’re your real bread and butter.

Hopefully, the patron’s Sweet Emotion of getting their concert tickets on-time because I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing is enough to keep them wanting to Walk This Way and not prompt them to ignore the show and simply just Dream On.

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