The best feature of the daily deal sites like Groupon and living social is also their worst. They tend to flood the inboxes of their subscribers with dozens of discounted services from a wide range of places — by tequila tastings at a Mexican restaurant with private lessons at a yoga studio in lawn care services of luxury — whether or not users are concerned.Loopt lets users take a bargain and recruit others to commit to purchase if the deal is offered.
Loopt, a location-based mobile communications, is seeking a slightly different approach to the phenomenon daily deal. The company is testing a program in San Francisco that calls U-offerings; the idea is to let people who use its service request the deal they want and then recruit their friends and family through Facebook and Twitter to commit to purchase if the deal gets green lighted. Then, Loopt stretches for the company or the dealer and presents them with the offer.
"Users get to choose where the deal is and are involved in the process," said Sam Altman, CEO and founder of the company. "This is the inverse of the daily deal model".
The company introduced the new early Wednesday and late in the afternoon had already secured the first agreement: a travel voucher $ 35 with Virgin America worth $ 100. Loopt provided 500 gift certificates to their users and sold all of them within the hour.
While Loopt is already partnering with Groupon to show users deals in their area, Mr. Altman thinks that the new feature could be a bigger advantage for companies looking for loyal customers. In addition, Loopt can set caps on how many registered users for a bargain, circumvent the problem of small businesses that get overwhelmed by the response to their bigger deal than expected.
"Their main customers claim by word of mouth," he said. "As more people sign up for a deal, we can call this activity and say we have $ 2,000 in revenue and new customers, if you accept these conditions."
Abby Lunardini, a spokesman at Virgin America, said the company was satisfied with the results from the experiment group purchasing.
"Adding component generated through U-Deals was something that was really cool and interesting for us, because you really get to people who want to buy," he said. "Our fliers tend to live through their mobile devices and online and are super-engaged with our brand in those channels".
On Thursday, I reported the growing interest of merchants to offer personalized offers to encourage repeated visits and loyalty, instead of targeting a large audience that can collect once and never return.
Ms. Lunardini said that American Virgin has seen the high returns from work with Loopt users offers targeted campaigns.
"Last year we launched the first airline offer with their geolocation, offering a two-for-one deal on our New Mexico flights for those who checked in at popular local food truck in L.A. and San Francisco," he said. "That day was our fifth day of highest sales in 2010."