Offering A Groupon? First, Consider Your Brand

Let me start by saying this post may seem a bit off topic since it is about an experience I had last weekend with a Groupon.  I did not actually have the groupon. I just got caught in the middle of a groupon frenzy.

Last Saturday, my boyfriend and I went to the VA wineries.  We live in a rather congested area of Maryland, (about 15 miles outside of Washington DC), so going out to the VA wineries is a little bit of country heaven for us.  It takes us about an hour (or more, depending on which ones we go to) to get there and we love the peaceful drives and the serene experience of enjoying wine amongst the beautiful scenery that surrounds most, if not all, of the wineries we visit.  That was, until last weekend.

We went to a winery that we had never been to before. When we got there, it was busy but not overly crowded.  We were in the middle of our wine tasting and I noticed that some other people had been given cheese and crackers to go along with their tastings so I asked if we could have some. The woman pouring the wine asked me if we had the groupon. I said, “No, but I’d still like some cheese and crackers – I will pay full price for them!”  So, she went to get us some and by the time she came back to us, we noticed the noise level inside the winery had risen quite a bit and it sounded like we were now in a loud crowded bar.  It was suddenly difficult to move.  I was pressed up against the wine tasting bar with people trying to edge there way in between my boyfriend and me to claim their spot to taste wine.  The place was overrun with loud people trying to get their groupon value and my boyfriend and I could not get out of there fast enough.   Our serene winery experience had disappeared.

This particular establishment was not equipped to handle such a large volume of people and obviously did not care about the fact that the numbers of people showing up to cash in on their groupon would alter the experience of those trying to taste, learn about, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon of wine tasting.  It was impossible to even hear what the wine pourers were saying about each wine let alone take your time to actually sip and taste the wine. The people shouting and pushing up against us sort of killed all that.

I am sure most of those groupon users were there for the deal and not necessarily the wine or the experience; however, I would question the winery owners regarding what type of image and brand they are looking to portray.  This is not a place I would recommend to someone interested in enjoying an afternoon of wine tasting. For me, it will forever be the place that was overrun by groupon users.  And, who knows how frequently they will offer that deal? I’d rather take my wine tasting elsewhere.  This experience begs the question for any company thinking about using a groupon: 1) do you have the capacity to handle the volume of people who just might show up? And, 2) is that the image you are truly looking to portray for your company?

Perhaps this whole experience also answered my question about why groupon is worth so much…. The concept obviously works.


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