Groupon is today offering the chance for a very wealthy individual to realize his sea exploration fantasies on a veritable budget, with a $12,500 trip to visit the sunken RMS Titanic via deep sea submersible. The offer, to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Titanic’s voyage, has a reported retail value of $59,600, representing a 79 percent discount. It is only available to one buyer, with a midnight expiration. Nobody tell James Cameron.
Groupon has been struggling to keep its momentum lately, after announcing disappointing earnings in its first quarter as a publicly traded company. The 40 million dollar loss on increased revenue was seen by many as a sign that the daily deal business may be reaching the saturation point; in addressing those concerns, Groupon has been experimenting increasingly with alternative ways of marketing its offers, which represent the most popular daily deals on the web. Groupon Reserve, an invitation-only program featuring fashion items and other upscale offerings, was launched last October, and followed by Groupon VIP, a $30-per-year subscription service which is currently in trials.
Although the Titanic deal pokes fun at its own absurdity, offering the buyer a “once-in-a-lifetime package” including a Titanic “DVD signed by professional Leonardo DiCaprio impersonator Frank Lloyd Roberts,” it may in fact be serving as a test-bed for one-off deals aimed at affluent buyers. Websites such as Gilt and Jetsetter have found tremendous success in this area, and Groupon may be increasingly desperate to bolster its traditional revenue streams. Or, the joke may be on us: Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is widely regarded as a jester of the tech world, famously starting a rumor about himself that he owned over 20 cats. Mason has however visibly toned-down his public persona lately, looking increasingly like the picture of a multi-billion dollar CEO, after nearly blowing Groupon’s IPO by violating the SEC mandated “quiet period.” The Titanic package, in addition to deep sea exploration, includes round-trip airfare, meals, and a 13-day ocean voyage, care of Deep Ocean Expeditions. Joke or not, you can see it for yourself here.