Unlike most people that spend the majority of their time in one place, I’m not home enough to commit to one hairdresser, gym, spa, etc. The recent explosion of local flash-sale websites
has made traveling and exploring new places more affordable. I subscribed to 20+ flash sale website and visit each one daily to determine the top ones. Here are some of my favorites based on: availability in most major markets, reputable local businesses, unique offerings in each city (not repeat national deals), ease of redemption, and variation of service/events offered.
Membership: Members only (get an invitation from a member or request one from gilt.com)
Markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC
Sales Details: Deals last for a week and inventory is limited. Each offer contains specific terms and conditions, including expiration date. Most offers are nonrefundable. After purchase a confirmation and certificate is sent by email and accessible through the app.
Recent Sales in Miami: Dinner for two at a 5-star restaurant, chauffer service, food and wine pairing class, and exclusive VIP concert experience.
App Availability: Apple App Store (City offers are currently not available through app)
Advantage: Gilt City’s deals go live no matter how many people opt-in, unlike Groupon. The offers are far more sophisticated than other deal websites. This is definitely the site to visit for exclusive upscale local events, shows, and businesses.
Disadvantage: There are only 5-10 offers that last for over a week and the good ones sellout quickly.
Membership: Free, sign-up at scoutmob.com
Markets: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, New
York City, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC. Coming soon: Charlotte, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego.
Sales Details: Scoutmob provides a location-aware coupon directly to your mobile device every day. Each offer has a rapid expiration time, so you must claim the offer using the mobile app or texting it to your phone from the website. Although there is a short period of time to claim the offer, most offers don’t expire for several months (usually 3 months).
Recent Sales in Miami: Not yet in Miami, but coming soon!
App Availability: Apple App Store, Android Market, BlackBerry App World
Advantages: There is no need to enter your credit card information like other deal website. New deal alerts are sent to your mobile device and all you have to do is show it to the local
business to redeem.
Disadvantages: There is a short amount of time to claim the offer, so check your email or the app often. Also, any questions about a deal must be addressed with the business, not Scoutmob.
Membership: Free, sign-up at LivingSocial.com
Markets: 580 markets across 25 countries
Sales Details: Quantity discount model like Groupon. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday deals begin at 5am local time and last for 24-hours. Deals that run on Friday run for 72 hours beginning at 5am. Each offer contains specific terms and conditions, including expiration date. Once the deal closes, your credit card is charged and a link to print your deal is sent. For cancellations contact LivingSocial within five days, after five business days returns are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Recent Sales in Miami: Firearm training, hang gliding, one hour wakeboarding lesson, and four week children’s tennis camp.
App Availability: Apple App Store and Android Market
Advantages: The reach is much larger than other location-based deal websites, so if you are in smaller towns LivingSocial andGroupon are your best bets. They also have something called “LivingSocial Instant,” where you can search a half-mile radius using the iPhone App to find deals (test markets include Washington DC, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Portland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and London).
Disadvantages: The return policy is very vague. I haven’t heard many complaints or issues from friends, so I assume they handled any issues appropriately.
Membership:Members of RueLaLa only (get an invitation from a member or request one from RueLaLa.com)
Markets: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC
Sales Details: Deals last for 24-hours starting daily at 11am ET. Each offer contains specific terms and conditions, including expiration date. After purchase a voucher is emailed to you and can be accessed using your RueLaLa.com account. Orders can be cancelled within 30 days after purchase as long as the offer has not expired.
Recent Sales in Miami: Laser hair removal, mixology classes, 10 course dinner, acupuncture, and a salon day for 10 people.
App Availability: Apple App Store (Rue Local currently not available through app) and Android Market
Advantages: The return policy is one of the best for flash location-based offers. You can cancel within 30 days as long as the offer hasn’t expired.
Disadvantages: RueLaLa Local launched last month, so it is the newest site to make the
list. My experience with RueLaLa flash shopping site has been spectacular, so I expect the same from the Local offers, but I have no first-hand experience.
Other notable websites
localdealsites.com: The most comprehensive list I’ve seen of all the daily deal websites that’s searchable by city.
yipit.com: An aggregator that tracks 1,000 deals a day and tailors the results based on your preferences, emailed to you each day.