Groupon. LivingSocial. ItIsOn. It seems that I wake up every morning to a flurry of email offering me cut-price beauty treatments and pasta dinners. Why, just last weekend my good friend the Neil-bear took advantage of a half price meat hamper. Apparently it came with a free tea towel, but he wouldn’t have been interested unless that was one part of a cow too. And let’s not say anything about the time I had to explain the concept of “vajazzling” in the staff canteen at my job before this one thanks to a well-timed offer.
With new voucher providers springing up every week it’s a wonder firstly, that they don’t run out of stuff to flog you and secondly, that anybody in the food or entertainment or leisure industries is making any money. Or is it? When I was putting together my 30 before 30 list and making a few notes about how to achieve the other 29 goals without breaking the one about living within a paycheque, Jehane commented that it was rare she had ever seen anything genuinely useful, like a discounted haircut, in those morning mailouts. And when you phone up to book a space for your afternoon tea you’ll likely be told that there isn’t one for a couple of weeks, even although there’s no way they’re fully booked at 3pm on a rainy Wednesday afternoon (but more about that in a future post).
When used well, the daily deal is simply a piece of clever marketing. By specifying restrictions you can maximise your business’ returns by filling spaces that would otherwise be left empty, and give good enough service and you might even make some repeat business out of it (unless your competitor offers a similar deal the next week). As long as you don’t over-promise something that you can’t deliver, or sell yourself so short that you’re actually trading at a loss.
Plus there are certain facilities – ‘industries’ doesn’t quite cut it – that I can hardly imagine existing without the daily deal to promote them. My mum celebrated a special birthday recently, and her friends gave her two vouchers for a “thermal experience” at The Spa at Glasgow’s five-star Blythswood Hotel. It was an extremely thoughtful gift, firstly because they were treating her to something that she would never have gotten around to doing herself and secondly because there was a time limit on it. If the sauna is the 21st century alternative to the scented candle or soap set that gathers dust at the back of a cupboard because what else do you get the woman who has everything then I’m all for it. Especially if there’s a glass of prosecco included.
Because here’s the thing: has anybody ever thought to go to a spa just… because? Really?
It certainly didn’t seem to be the case at the Blythswood on Sunday where everybody we spoke to seemed to be first-timers. Not that you’d know it from the whistle-stop tour of the facilities we were given by the blonde femmebot behind the reception desk, who threw terminology I hadn’t heard since mine and the Bezzer’s trip to Bath at us as if we were supposed to have a clue what she was talking about. At least there were less silly costumes this time around, she says bearing in mind that there are only three people in the world who have seen her in any kind of swimwear and all of them are relatives.
The thermal experience at the Blythswood is, the website claims, “designed to take your body on a wet and dry, warm and cold temperature journey”. Basically what this means is that you will spent much of the time wandering from room to room in a bathrobe, your glasses perched precariously atop your head because myopic fog is slightly more comfortable than that from a steam room. I couldn’t tell you what any of the ‘treatments’ were called because my mum and I spent most of the time giggling and giving them nicknames based on Greek mythology. To be honest, it was for the best that there weren’t any professional spa-goers using the facilities with us – we’d have been chucked out for our shrieks of hysterical laughter in the bubble pool, for sure.
That pool was a firm favourite, probably because your role there wasn’t just to sit about inhaling pomegranate vapour from a glowing pink orb. At least that’s what I think it was, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t call it that in high school.
Lovely day. Excellent company. Absolutely no need to ever do that again. And the swimwear returns to the back of the drawer, where all being well it will not be seen for at least another three years.