This all reminds me of when the classified websites launched here- there was Dubai Donkey, Souq.com, Ebay.ae (cheeky!!!) and Dubizzle. I think we all know how that story ended- Dubizzle rules supreme now!
So who is going to win the battle of the deals? Let's have a look at the contenders...
Gonabit- very active and possible leader
Cobone- very active but seems to have higher offer uptake
Groupon- mmmm.... either this is a soft launch or they are not as good as everyone has been predicting- weak offers
Deal Gobbler- a wanna be Cobone/ Gonabit
1 Deal Days Living Social- not launched yet
Wanamax- they gone bust aleady I think- well their website has disappeared!
Ad7vantage.com- offers through 7Days- very expensive to take part as a client!
2for1uae- another Gonabit
Lowcost Dubai-more of a touristy one and doesn't look as zooty as the other sites.
My money is on Cobone or Gonabit winning and if you pushed me- I would say Cobone will win out in the end- purely based on their more impressive uptake of offer numbers. They are both neck and neck on Facebook likes so it is hard to distinguish!
And how about this for a funny coincidence- I sent a mail yesterday to one of the new ones to ask them very politely to refrain from spamming the Facebook pages I manage- and also a little tip/ heads up that Facebook will ban them if they continue! Well I just got a phone call from them, as I am typing this, asking if I would manage their social media for them hahahah!! So, do I now enter into the fray of what I am dissing and put my money where my mouth is and show them how to do it? Or do I run for the hills!
The business model is excellent for the deal sites- they take 20- 50% off the cost of the offer! They say everything else is free- so the cost depends on how much you sell. I had one client who wanted to offer a 2000 dhs gift voucher for 1000 dhs..the site said they would take 50% off that cost....so basically if they sold 100 the deal site would get 50,000 dhs....that's a very expensive marketing campaign!!! Not including the loss of revenue on offering the deal! I reckon the best thing is a small cost deal that is for something quite niche and for a small size company who can't usually afford to advertise on this scale- you are getting massive low cost exposure through their website, social media and data bases- but not necessarily loads of vouchers being bought!
If you're a salon/ spa/ hair dressers it is a great way to get new clientele- assuming of course you really look after these new bargain hunting clients. It does have the potential to become a PR disaster- there are already reports of people not being able to use the vouchers as the salons are too booked up until after the voucher expiry. Can a small salon actually cope with an influx of 300 plus new people over a short period? Can they give them the great service required to make them a return customer? Will existing customers get fed up of voucher wielding clients in their favourite salon and go elsewhere??
Also where is the loyalty to the deal sites? I flit between the big 3 but have only actually bought 3 deals- one of which I am getting a refund on as the deal was totally misrepresented! The other two- one was half price concert ticket for a concert I was going to anyway and the other a half price brunch cos cheap booze- well I am there! I have not been tempted by the cheap mani pedis and hair cuts- just not comfortable with them. Maybe I am just not a deal person- or maybe I am but am very selective! One friend of mine buys nearly every day and has stacks of vouchers! Maybe it's possible to become a deal-addicted....oooh I really, really may need my under arm hair removing with lasers in the future- quick buy the voucher!! Apparently 20% of vouchers never get used anyway!
What would I buy regularly? Travel deals actually- reduced hotel rates for sure, the odd beauty deal if I knew the salon, meal discounts for somewhere I would normally go... I don't think I am their target customer- I have never bought The Entertainer Book either- I always get shock horror gasp when I say that! What's the point- would never use all/ any of the vouchers!! It's only me!
Add to all these websites- coupon books, loyalty cards, regular sales- man, we shouldn't need to pay full price for anything ever again in Dubai! How are you supposed to manage all of this!! One lady I heard of has everything in a selection of marked envelopes for ease of use- argggghhhh!! I can't cope! What are the enevlopes labelled as? Spa- massage, Spa- mani pedis, Food- cheap pizzas???? The list could go on!
One last top tip I will share with you- do not surf these sites whilst under the influence! I have one friend in London who had a Chardonnay induced Group On splurge and is now having to have liposuction, fake eyelashes, hair extensions and a chemical peel all in the next month!!!
Here's an interesting article about the start of it all in The National from Dec 2010 You have to feel sorry for the Wanamax now- after all his spouting in this and the website is now gone!