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Using Group Buying Sites to Sell Your Camp


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Jul 20, 2011, 10:08 AM

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Using Group Buying Sites to Sell Your Camp Can't Post

Group buying sites like Groupon and Living Social are wildly popular, but are they a good idea for selling summer camps? We noticed some of our camps offering deep discounts on enrollment through deal sites this season. Although these sites are a fast way to reach a wide audience, they can also have a down side.

Because we care about our summer camp partners and want everyone to have a profitable season, we've put together a list of things you should consider before using a group buying site to fill your camp.

  • You could lose money - Many group buying sites not only require businesses to offer their product at a 50% discount, they also take 50% of the revenue as their fee. Let's say enrollment in your camp costs $300 per child. Your deal would be offered at $150, plus you'd be forced to turn over half of each sale to the site. So you'd only receive $75 for a spot in your camp that could have earned you $300.

  • You could lose loyal customers - Parents who have already enrolled at full price could see the discount deal and demand a refund for the difference. Many small businesses have also experienced current customers waiting to buy the discount deal rather than pay full price.

  • It undervalues your camp - The summer camp experience is worth its weight in gold. By offering enrollment at half-price, you're telling parents that the price is negotiable. They may not be willing to pay full price in future seasons, waiting instead for a last-minute discount.

  • Discounts don't build loyalty - Many businesses consider using group buying sites just once to find new customers. But savvy consumers have learned to deal hop, only patronizing businesses who offer a discount. The people who bought your deal this year won't necessarily come back next season.

Check out posts from these marketing blogs for more cautionary tales:

So what's the alternative for reaching parents who love a discount?

Invest in targeted, annual advertising on camp directories like MySummerCamps and KidsCamps. You'll be able to reach parents when they search year-round and drive thousands of people to your Web site. Announce discounts or coupon codes in your listing and invite parents to contact your camp for more details.

You can also promote your usual early bird or sibling discounts in unusual ways. Purchase Facebook ads before your enrollment deadlines. Or advertise in email newsletters and blogs to draw attention to your discounts.


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