Groupon, Living Social and Other Discounts
Groupon and Living Social have recently began offering their products in the Boston area for skydive discounts. Unlike other industries, skydiving does not have a profit margin large enough to operate consistently at the discount required to advertise with Groupon or Living Social. So how are some companies offering these discounts?
1) It's a bait and switch. Groupon and Living Social offer small companies access to over 3 million people in the Boston and surrounding areas, a tempting offer especially for low budget operations. In order to advertise to all these people, and still make enough to operate, some skydive centers will charge hidden fees that the coupon does not apply to.
- • Goggle and jumpsuit fee
- • Parachute rental fee
- • Telephone reservation fee
- • Rescheduling fee - often people will find that the drop zone's schedule will be filled until after their coupon expires
- • Homeland Security fee - some companies will prey on fears of customers, there is no fee charged to skydive operations by Homeland Security
- • Mandatory Tipping – Many of these low budget operations will make it seem that tipping is not an option and that the instructors rely on them.
By the time you add up all the fees, plus the cost of the coupon, you will not see much of a saving, and will often pay more for a sub-standard service.
2) Reduce expenses. Sounds like a basic rule of business, but no matter what costs you reduce, airplanes are always expensive. Some operations will forgo required maintenance in order to maintain a profit. While it's illegal, the FAA relies mostly on self regulation to keep small planes airworthy. Other areas these low budget operations will reduce cost:
- • Second rate parachute gear - using older equipment that can be purchased cheap because it does not have the latest safety systems
- • Lower jump altitude - Jumping from 6,000 feet uses less than half the fuel that it takes to go to 10,000 feet, and can be done in roughly half the time. For safety, the United States Parachute Association recommends a minimum jump altitude of 7,500 feet.
While everyone loves a sweet deal, for most people skydiving is a once in a life time experience. We urge you to research any large discounts and make an informed choice so that your first skydive is the safest and best possible experience available.
"The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten" - Benjamin Franklin