Secret Escapes, the UK’s premium AirBnB getaway purchasing service, has been running a decent business in Central Europe for a while, but has gone further recently with its purchase of Czech competitor Slevomat Group.
Slevomat runs a Groupon-type business, offering a variety of services that fit within Secret Escapes’ usual portfolio, like spas and hotel bookings, and others which don’t, like clothing and subscriptions.
Alex Saint, Secret Escapes CEO, told Tnooz, “We have been competing with Slevomat for nine months or so […] we know that large numbers of people from the Czech Republic travel internationally with the main destination Croatia. So that gives us the impetus to contract hotels there at the appropriate price point. We can also cross-sell inventory from across the group which will work for these source markets.”
As his remark suggests, Saint sees Central Europe as undervalued. Poland is currently Secret Escapes’ third biggest market, but it is still a business which essentially functions from a Groupon-esque flash-sales model.
While still cautious, the feedback and reviews of Secret Escapes tend to be much better than those of Groupon, despite the inherent problems in the voucher-sales model like how genuine the discounts are and the availability of the deals.
This, though, could be solved with platform functionality, much as Groupon has tried, yet Secret Escapes’ purchase of Slevomat has the added benefit of providing them an extra platform to try out.
Overall, according to Tnooz, Saint wants to move the whole company on to one platform, but that is a long term goal.
For the moment Saint is happy with three different platforms providing local flexibility – flexibility which may provide avenues of development for the final platform.