As criticism of daily deals abounds, more merchant-friendly options are springing up: daily deal auctions, social advertising, and loyalty cards 2.0. Another option is the Chicago-based startup playOccasion, founded in August, which offers a marketplace for businesses to sell “occasions.”
Available in DC and Chicago, playOccasion is currently focusing on sports and fitness events, like a beginner’s tennis drill. Their model is similar to daily deal sites because it is group buying: a minimum number of participants are needed for each occasion, and they pay up-front.
But occasions are not deals, so playOccasion helps vendors make more money, doesn’t discount the value of their services, and – hopefully – creates more loyalty.
“Our focus is on engaging customers with businesses month over month,” says Aksh Gupta, who has worked on various projects with cofounder Tzviatko Chiderov. They also try to reduce setup time, so vendors don’t have to expend much effort to bring in extra money. playOccasion takes a 13% cut (on average) of the paid price.
Another obvious difference from most daily deals is that playOccasion offers events, which means users have no flexibility about when to use their vouchers. But users do get a “happiness guarantee” and a refund if they are not satisfied with the experience.
On the whole, playOccasion seems like a better deal for vendors than users, who may need more incentives to become avid participants on the site.
To hear more about playOccasion’s future plans – including what other types of occasions they will offer – visit them at our Tech Cocktail DC mixer tonight.