Are LivingSocial Escapes travel deals worth it? Here’s what we found

Mirage400Daily deals websites seem to have tailed off in popularity in the past year or two, but the travel deals section of the major sites appear to be doing well. Unlike neighborhood deals, which aren’t sustainable in most cases, these travel deals can make a lot of sense for both parties. An empty hotel room is lost revenue and they don’t need to assume that you’ll come back at full price next time in order to come out ahead.

Recently we did a similar test to see if Groupon Escapes are good deals, and this time we are focusing on their main rival, LivingSocial Escapes. Both sites offer a mix of hotel rooms around the country (usually in the low season) and resorts in Mexico, the Caribbean, and beyond. They typically boast a bottom line savings of anywhere from 30% to 70%, but are these discounts real or just accounting tricks?

We checked prices on US hotels as well as Mexico/Caribbean resorts

As with the Groupon test, we checked prices of 10 hotel deals in the United States as well as 5 resort deals in Mexico and the Caribbean. We calculated the total you’d pay with LivingSocial, including all taxes and fees that aren’t always obvious on the top of the page. Then we checked on other travel-booking sites elsewhere to find the best price for the exact same thing that LivingSocial offered.

Ten hotels and five resorts aren’t really enough to conclusively say that ALL LivingSocial Escapes are honest about what they promise, but they were enough to get a meaningful sample to see what the trend is. Future deals might get better or worse, so this is just a snapshot of how they stack up now.

The conclusion (short version)

WaldorfAstoriaThe full set of data is just below, but for those who just want a quick answer to the question, here it is: The LivingSocial Escapes travel deals only sometimes deliver the full discount they promise, but even when they don’t they almost always deliver a significant discount off what you can find elsewhere.

In about half the examples, the actual discount was very close to what was promised, which was usually around 40% to 50%. In most other cases the discount was closer to half of what was promised (20% instead of 40%, for example). You could focus on the negative and say that LivingSocial often fails to deliver the full discount, but we are generally impressed and even a bit surprised by how good the deals really are.

More dramatically, the all-inclusive resort deals we tested pretty much all delivered something very close to the promised discount. This wasn’t the case in our Groupon Escapes test, as a couple of those turned out to be typical of deals you can find elsewhere. With the Caribbean and Mexican all-inclusive resort market so competitive, the fact that LivingSocial delivered about 50% off the best deal found elsewhere is astonishly impressive.

LivingSocial Escapes hotel deals in the United States

1 – Courtyard Portland Downtown/Convention Center

A One-Night Stay for Up to Four Guests in a King or Double Queen Guest Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $124.26
  • Extras included: $25.00
  • Total deal price: $99.26
  • Best price elsewhere: $170.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 46%
  • Actual savings: 42% (including extras)

*Offer price including all extra taxes and fees

2 – Warwick Seattle Hotel

A Stay for Two in an Executive King or Double Queen Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $150.80
  • Extras included: $25.00
  • Total deal price: $125.80
  • Best price elsewhere: $210.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 41%
  • Actual savings: 40% (including extras)

3 – Renaissance Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

A One-Night Stay for Two in a Deluxe Standard Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $107.67
  • Extras included: $35.00
  • Total deal price: $72.67
  • Best price elsewhere: $109.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 34%
  • Actual savings: 33% (including extras)

4 – Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa, Henderson, NV

A One-Night Stay for Two in a Traditional Resort View Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $76.59
  • Extras included: -$10.00
  • Total deal price: $86.59
  • Best price elsewhere: $132.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 78%
  • Actual savings: 34% (including extras)

5 – Hotel Belleclaire • New York, NY

One-Night Stay for Two in a Standard Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $184.00
  • Extras included: $60.00
  • Total deal price: $124.00
  • Best price elsewhere: $148.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 35%
  • Actual savings: 16% (including extras)

6 – Le Méridien Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

A Stay for Two in a Classic King or Two-Double Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $149.00
  • Extras included: $0.00
  • Total deal price: $149.00
  • Best price elsewhere: $239.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 79%
  • Actual savings: 38%

7 – Wyndham Orlando Resort • Orlando, FL

A Two-Night Stay for Up to Four People in a Room with One King or Two Double Beds

  • LivingSocial price*: $113.95
  • Extras included: $0.00
  • Total deal price: $113.95
  • Best price elsewhere: $167.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 67%
  • Actual savings: 32%

8 – Sonesta Gwinnett Place, Duluth, GA

One-night stay for two

  • LivingSocial price*: $62.15
  • Extras included: $0.00
  • Total deal price: $62.15
  • Best price elsewhere: $55.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 44%
  • Actual savings: -13%

9 – King George Hotel – Union Square, San Francisco, CA

A One-Night Stay for Two in a Standard Queen Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $137.45
  • Extras included: $25.00
  • Total deal price: $112.45
  • Best price elsewhere: $133.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 38%
  • Actual savings: 15% (including extras)

10 – Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa • Dana Point, CA

A One-Night Stay for Two in a Resort-View Room

  • LivingSocial price*: $176.81
  • Extras included: $25.00
  • Total deal price: $151.81
  • Best price elsewhere: $302.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 47%
  • Actual savings: 50% (including extras)

Bottom line on LivingSocial Escapes US hotel deals

PortlandHotelBased on the 10 examples we tested, the LivingSocial Escapes for US hotels do offer significant discounts, although only about half the time were they close to what was promised. In one case we found an even lower price elsewhere for an inexpensive hotel, though only by a small amount and this was otherwise the exception.

If you are interested in a specific deal on LivingSocial Escapes then it’s almost certainly the best price you can find on your own, by quite a large margin. However, in some cases the deal is only a huge discount because it includes extras like free parking or credit at a restaurant. In those cases it’s obviously critical to decide whether the extra is actually worthwhile for you, because sometimes it might not be.

LivingSocial Escapes resort deals in Mexico and the Caribbean

1 – Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites • Cancun, Mexico

A Five- Night Stay for Two in a Standard Ocean-View Room

  • LivingSocial price: $798.00
  • Best price elsewhere: $1,488.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 50%
  • Actual savings: 46%

2 – Sandos Finisterra • Los Cabos, Mexico

An All-Inclusive Four-Night stay in a Deluxe Bay View Suite

  • LivingSocial price: $1,026.00
  • Best price elsewhere: $1,665.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 50%
  • Actual savings: 38%

3 – Be Live Grand Punta Cana • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Four-night Stay for Two in a Superior Deluxe Room

  • LivingSocial price: $575.00
  • Best price elsewhere: $994.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 56%
  • Actual savings: 42%

4 – Keyonna Beach • Antigua, Antigua

A Five-Night Stay for Two in a Standard Room

  • LivingSocial price: $1,599.00
  • Best price elsewhere: $2,488.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 46%
  • Actual savings: 36%

5 – blu St Lucia • Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

A Three-Night Stay for Two in a Standard Room

  • LivingSocial price: $739.00
  • Best price elsewhere: $1,517.00
  • LivingSocial savings promise: 66%
  • Actual savings: 51%

Bottom line on LivingSocial Escapes resort deals

CancunAllInWhile the LivingSocial Escapes in the tests above were always at least a little shy of the promised discount, in all cases the actual discount was still outstanding. By now we are all trained to know that we can’t just take percent-off deals at face value, so the fact that these are even close is notable.

It isn’t quite so simple to say that all resort deals offered by LivingSocial Escapes are worth jumping at (more on that below), but if you are in the market for an all-inclusive vacation to Mexico or the Caribbean, this seems like the first place to look for bargains.

Compare these deals to similar properties to really test the offer

If you are the type of travel shopper who likes to be confident they are getting a good deal before they type in their credit card information, one last thing to check is to compare the deal to something similar nearby. In other words, if you see an offer for a 4-star hotel room in a city center, you should also check prices or deals at other 4-star hotels in the same city. You might actually find an even lower price at a hotel that is as good or better.

With resorts it can be even more confusing because many properties only publish a “rack rate” that is very high because they usually fill up with tour groups and through travel-agent bookings at big “discounts.” In other words, if a travel agent can get you a room for US$200 per night that is offered online for US$395 per night, it feels like an excellent deal. However, if every room at that resort ends up selling for around US$200 per night, then the high rack rate is just a gimmick.




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