Recently someone asked me to weigh in on the concept of flash sales, specifically when used in the hospitality and travel industries. Essentially, a flash sale is a time dated offer that arrives unexpectedly and requires an immediate response to book the featured promotional rate. More back story can be found here.
I think these tactics are fine if they are relevant and anticipated by the customer and if they don't become too prominent in the marketing plan. In other words, they need to be the fallback during carefully selected periods. As booking windows become increasingly shorter, people are more comfortable with "last minute". But, penalizing the early birds, which often are your most loyal fans, definitely has consequences. What is gained short-term, might cost you more in the long run. Once the infrequent fire sale becomes the norm, fewer people are going to believe that your "normal" price is the real deal...then, trust is gone.
When making decision about marketing I often look through these filters...
- Does the idea support short-term or long-term goals? How much will the short-term gain erode long-term performance?
- Are we willing to offer this all the time and to our best customers? If not, why not?
- Will our customers trust us more or less when we do this?
- Does it build an audience of loyal, raving fans?
- Is the prospective idea or tactic easy or hard? Things that are easy (like buying ads) are not as meaningful and effective as doing things that are hard (building one on one relationships one customer at a time).
- If we do this, will it improve our care score? Will our best customers feel more cared for?
Nothing (no amount of marketing) replaces doing meaningful work that people are willing to pay a premium for. The keys are to find something you are passionate about and hoping there are enough people that agree with you.