Hotel recommendation and booking site gekko.com has launched a Facebook application to offer a more targeted personalised deals service than the plethora of Groupon-style flash sale sites.
The multi-lingual application has been developed over the last five months and officially launched at 2pm today (July 19) following a period in beta testing.
Gekko says the application will enable hotels, bars and restaurants to offer targeted deals direct to customers and friends of customers who have expressed an interest in their property or premises.
A ‘request-a-deal’ button enables suppliers to tailor exclusive offers or incentives to customers without having to push out the deal widely through more volume-based channels.
Michael Cassius, chief executive of Gekko, said: “What we want to do with this application is give everybody a personalised recommendation and personalised deal.
“It’s a place within Facebook where you can go to get the best possible deal either because you are using our booking engine or because you ask for a deal directly from the hotelier.”
Gekko says the closed environment in which deals can be made available means hoteliers and other suppliers can offer deals targeted to a more loyal clientele.
This makes it potentially more attractive against deals sites like Groupon which are seen by many as encouraging a race to the lowest price point and undermining profitability without driving loyalty.
Cassius said while such models will continue to prosper, using social media in this way as an effective e-commerce tool will open up an alternative channel to market.
He said deals sites were “a bit like carpet bombing” whereas the Gekko application was all about precision targeting and personalisation.
We are approaching this not only from a social but from an e-commerce perspective, bringing a business aspect to the social environment
“We know people ask their friends about places they want to go to so here we are providing a tool for people to use.
“We think this is definitely a big opportunity for us because we are approaching not only from a social perspective but from an e-commerce perspective, bringing a business aspect to the social environment.”
Although recommendations from friends are said to count for 40%-50% of that decision spending on social media accounts for less than 10% of marketing, said Cassius.
Gekko has partnerships with major hotel review and booking sites like Expedia, Tripadvisor, hotels.com and booking.com. It also works with restaurant sites like toptable.com.
Bas Lemmens, a Gekko director and a former partner at booking.com who has led the development of the Facebook app, said hotels will also be encouraged to sign up.
“We do not exclude anybody. We make the conversation happen between places and users. Everyone is free to do whatever they want.
“It’s very expensive advertising on Google now and people want to know who is clicking and who is their audience.”
The app has launched in English and Russian initially and will eventually be made available in Dutch, Spanish, French and German.
Users will be able to save their favourites places in lists and share them with friends as well as asking their social network for recommendations.
Gekko will be promoting it from today through its existing member database as well as marketing it online including through Facebook ads.