Groupon is a popular third-party booking website, where you can buy discounted deals for Las Vegas bars, restaurants, shows, attractions, services, and experiences. These deals are called Groupons, and can be redeemed just like a voucher once you get to the establishment.
What is Groupon?
Here’s how Groupon’s about page describes them:
Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) is building the daily habit in local commerce, offering a vast mobile and online marketplace where people discover and save on amazing things to do, see, eat and buy. By enabling real-time commerce across local businesses, travel destinations, consumer products and live events, shoppers can find the best a city has to offer. Groupon is redefining how small businesses attract and retain customers by providing them with customizable and scalable marketing tools and services to profitably grow their businesses.
That’s a lot of marketing jargon to say that Groupon gives you good deals on restaurants and attractions in cities throughout the country. Including Las Vegas.
There’s a constantly changing selection of deals on Groupon. These promotions can (and do!) sell out, so make sure to pull the trigger if you see something you want to take advantage of.
How does Groupon Work?
You buy a Groupon directly from the Groupon website (which makes it one of the few third-party booking sites I recommend). You will pay the price listed on the Groupon when you purchase it, and will receive a voucher. You then bring this voucher — either in a mobile app or a good old fashioned print out — to the business, where it serves as a voucher for whatever is included in the package.
After browsing the Groupons in Las Vegas, you can click on the deal(s) that interest you.
On the page for each deal, you will see a couple of section headers, including:
This provides an overview of what to expect from the Groupon. Some are written better than others, so I don’t put too much stock in them until I read on.
These are all reviews from people who have redeemed the Groupon. They’re all generally well-reviewed, so if it has under 4 stars, I’d shy away from it. As always, read reviews with a grain of salt, but there can be some helpful tips. I recommend reading through a few pages to look for themes and see if there are any recurring suggestions. Often times, the reviews will share tips for redeeming the Groupon or things to do/avoid.
People’s poorly lit, blurry photos from when they redeemed their Groupon. These can be amusing, but don’t factor into my decision too much.
What You’ll Get
A list of the items/services included in the Groupon. This is the most important part of the Groupon, so I always examine this before determining if I want to further investigate.
A lot of times, they will include overpriced extras here to markup the “total value” of a Groupon, so make sure that everything here is worth paying for; if you’re “saving 60%” on a package deal, but end up spending more than you would’ve buying what you wanted á la carte, it’s not a good deal.
I recommend adding up the total value of all of the things you would pay full price for separately, and comparing that to the price of the Groupon; if it’s cheaper, go for it. If it’s the same price, I’d book directly (rather than through Groupon) so you have more flexibility.
Always read the fine print carefully before booking a Groupon. It will usually list a couple of important rules for the Groupon, including:
Expiration – Groupons usually expire 1-4 months from the date of purchase, so be careful if you’re purchasing far in advance! Additionally, the vendor will sometimes set an expiration date for the promotion. Make sure you’re inside this range.
Limits – Tells you how many times you can use a Groupon, and how many can be used per visit. While each varies, establishments will generally limit you to one Groupon per person/table/visit/bill. So check this before buying one for everyone in your group!
Blackouts – Dates you cannot redeem the Groupon; often coincides with holidays. Make sure your trip dates do not fall on these days.
Other Exclusions – Each Groupon will have special exclusions, which may prevent you from using it with other offers/coupons, during happy hour, or for certain items. Read this carefully to ensure that you will be able to redeem the value towards what you want.
Groupon provides an overview of the establishment, often with hours and recommendations (for example, if it has wifi, is suitable for kids, price range, etc). This can be a good starting point, but I encourage you to check the company’s website as well to ensure you have the most current information.
You will purchase your Groupon direct from the Groupon website. They frequently run sales, which are featured prominently on banners at the top of the page. You can typically get 10-25% off during these sales.
If you’re looking to maximize your value, wait until one of these promo codes is available, and enter it when checking out.
You will be billed the price listed on Groupon immediately, and be emailed a voucher that holds the value(s) expressed in the What You’ll Get section.
You can visit the website and sign in to print out your voucher, or download the mobile app and pull up the barcode there. The voucher has a barcode, which is what you will redeem at the business to get your deal.
If you’re planning to use the app to redeem your Groupon, I recommend screenshotting the voucher and saving it to your phone’s camera roll, in case you don’t have service when you get to the establishment.
Right when you get to the business, tell the server/attendant/bartender that you are using a Groupon. This way, they can adjust your bill accordingly and avoid difficulty later, as well as reminding you of any limitations. They’ll take it from there; sometimes they will immediately request the voucher, and other times they will ask you to hold it until the end.
Some places will scan the barcode, whereas others will simply look at it on your phone and mark it as redeemed. Do NOT mark your voucher as redeemed until an employee specifically tells you to.
As with everything in Las Vegas, tipping is expected.
Groupon users are notoriously cheap in that they often forget to tip, or tip cheaply. You should plan to tip for the full retail price of your purchase. Groupon even reminds you of this when they send you your voucher, asking you to:
*Remember: there’s no discount on great service. Please be sure to tip on the total bill (voucher value plus anything else you order).
Help your bartender/server share in your good fortune and pay it forward with a generous tip.
Linking Cards with Groupon+
Groupon also offers cashback at select restaurants through Groupon+. To participate in this, you can link your credit card to Groupon and “claim” an offer. If you pay with your linked card(s), you will receive the stated cashback. These stack with credit card rewards, so it can be a great way to double dip.
These are Groupons that I have personally used and enjoyed:
- Vanguard Lounge: $24 for $40 worth of drinks for two; $12 for $20 worth of drinks for one. I have used this Groupon with my mom and on a solo trip. It’s a great deal on delicious craft cocktails, which go for $13 a pop. I recommend visiting in the late afternoon/early evening, since it switches to an R&B club in the evening. It also stacked with a Groupon+ deal, so I was able to get $3 cashback on top of my two heavily discounted rounds.
- Banger Brewing: $29 for Beer Experience for Two, including a flight, two pints, and 1L souvenir growler (and fill). I have used this twice, and enjoyed it both times. Banger’s got some unique flagships (Morning Joe, which is a coffee kolsch that tastes like a frapuccino, and El Jefe, a jalapeño hefeweizen that is highly-rated among people who don’t share my conviction that peppers do not belong in beer).
- Hexx Kitchen and Bar : $30 for $50 worth of food/drinks for two. Ask to be seated outside, since the balcony is across from the Bellagio Fountains and offers some of the best people watching. Their bottomless mimosas at brunch are well worth it if you can slam mimosas back like me.