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Groupon Makes Comeback with Travel, Mobile Push and a New 'Pull' Mode'.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Thursday, 26th September 2013
 
One of the most frequent questions I'm asked these days – after Groupon set up its Travel vertical group in Asia Pacific earlier this year – is 'how long do you think they will last?'.

In the rapid-fire world of online, it seemed only yesterday when Groupon, the daily deals monster, was hailed as the game-changer in travel and today, some people are surprised that it's actually still around and not imploded like the thousands of copycat sites that mushroomed after "the Groupon phenomenon".

4Hoteliers Image LibrarySo when Seah Seah (right), formerly with Langham Hotels and prior to that, ZUJI, joined them as their travel head last October, many people were surprised – why would Seah join a company that is perceived to be floundering and its CEO Andrew Mason left in rather dramatic fashion, writing the most-talked-about resignation letter in the US corporate world?

To Seah, the move represented an opportunity for personal growth. "Groupon is full of entrepreneurs and I wanted to be among entrepreneurs – how they think, how they disrupt, how they question everything. Travelocity was a platform that couldn't change and the speed of change was slow. At Groupon, there is no platform, it's full of entrepreneur fervour and the feeling is ‘we can do anything'."

He's had to make mental adjustments obviously, one of which is ‘how do you translate the online travel world into the social commerce world – they are two different worlds, one is 15 years old, the other is 3 years old. Social commerce can do travel in a way that OTAs such as Travelocity can't."

Groupon is also moving from a "push" to "pull" model and Seah said the intention is to become a Social Commerce Platform (SCP, a new acronym to remember perhaps) where customers come to Groupon to be inspired and to buy deals. And with mobile now accounting for 50% of the group's US$6 billion transactions, this factor could well work in its favour when it comes to travel and Asia.

Mobile and the shift in model from "push" to "pull" was recently hailed by Wired magazine as one of the reasons that "Groupon is staging one of the year's more unlikely comebacks".

The article, noting that Groupon's shares have more than quadrupled and its market cap is back above US$8 billion, said that changes instituted by new CEO Eric Lefkofsky and mobile appear "to hold the key to Groupon's comeback".

In its second-quarter earnings announcement, Groupon said that "pull" was supplanting "push" – email accounted for lower than 40% of all North American transactions, and noted that "pulling" was an approach ideally suited to mobile apps – the Groupon app was downloaded 7.5 million times in the second quarter.

Read the full story HERE

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