Rice University’s Associate Professor of Management Utpal M. Dholakia published a series of papers that analyzed Groupon’s effectiveness for various businesses, including spas, gyms, and restaurants. These have proven extremely useful as I research how Groupon, Living Social and other social couponing websites can be effective or harmful for museum discounts. One paper, in the series, that has been particularly helpful is HowBusinesses Fare with Daily Deals: A Multi-Site Analysis of Groupon,LivingSocial, OpenTable, Travelzoo, and BuyWithMe Promotions, because it provides an analysis of some different daily deal sites and gives some characteristics of Groupon and LivingSocial that can be useful for my thesis. These papers are also very useful because of the for-profit case studies they provide, whose experiences will help inform how I develop strategies for non-profits, specifically museums. Dholakia’s research provides recommendations for having a successful online promotion through any of the above mentioned sites, and I intend to show how his suggestions can be applied to museums.
Another key source that I have found is the article “Get Your Group On,” written by Joelle Seligson. It was published in The American Alliance of Museum’s Museum magazine in July-August 2010. This short article is going to be a valuable source because it contains quotes from museum professionals who have utilized Groupon and/or LivingSocial. It is one of the few articles I have come across that talk about how museums are using these social couponing companies and gives specific examples of museums that have offered memberships, special event tickets, or exhibit tickets to subscribers. It also talks about some of the pros and cons these museum staffers have found when using the daily deal sites, which I think will be useful in guiding my approach to developing a strategy for using Groupon, LivingSocial, or other daily deal site effectively. One of the most important facts of this article was that the first museum to try out Groupon was the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, which offered a deal in July 2009. Groupon reportedly approached this museum, encouraging it to offer general admissions ticket and the museum sold more than 1,500 (pg. 36).
While I am accumulating a significant amount of sources to help with my thesis development, the Rice University papers and Seligson’s article in Museum are the two key sources that have greatly impacted my research path. After reading these papers and article I feel I am in a much better position to move forward with my topic.