Yesterday I shared a short video where Felipe Lyon gave a quick overview on Groupon Puerto Rico‘s Launch. Thanks to my good friend @mark_hayward I had the opportunity to sit down with Felipe Lyon Regional Manager of Groupon Puerto Rico and ask him a few questions related to Groupon’s launch next monday.
I wanted to make sure you guys had access to the full interview which I will be following up with some of my thoughts on Monday’s post if you want to receive the post via email make sure you Subscribe to our Newsletter via Email.
Here is the full interview feel free to share your thoughts and ask any questions:
Raúl – Felipe can you explain what is your current position at Groupon?
Felipe – I am the Puerto Rico Regional Manager.
Raúl – Can you share with us the general Business structure of Groupon Puerto Rico?
Felipe – Just as in other countries we have a local team that is constantly building and finding the best options, deals, businesses so we can publish their offers. In this way we have a powerful platform in line with those of other countries.
Raúl – Can you give us an overview of the Groupon Functions?
Felipe – Groupon is an online magazine where every day we publish great deals from the best venues in your city. It is also an open invitation to discover your city. Via these daily offers we provide a unique price and opportunity to visit various venues, it can be a hair salon, restaurant, unique product, service, trip or romantic escape. Every day we provide a different flavor to our consumers to give them the possibility to try out a place where they have always wanted to go. Maybe you’ve walked in front of a hotel many times and would like to stay at it with your significant other. Groupon makes it posibble to create the possibility and opportunity to enjoy different places in your city. All of this is from the consumer’s perspective.
For a Business Groupon is a marketing tool. A tool where they can find new consumers, to try out there products and services with the opportunity of making them into long term customers.
Raúl – How do you share those offers or how does it reach the consumer?
Felipe – On our website Groupon.com.pr in which as a user you can visit every day, we also have our newsletter in which you can subscribe too. We send a daily communication with opportunities that our merchants our offering. Since our users are internet savvy this also increases the probability of these offers being shared on social media channels. This means we can extend our reach outside of our subscribed users or site visitors.
Other opportunities arise when someone goes to a restaurant and identifies that they have a groupon offer and they share it online via Facebook and Twitter. Users also have the functionality of commenting on the site regarding venues and sharing there experiences. We have been a trending topic with some of the offers posted on the site. That resonance online is created by our users which share the offers. This really diversifies the many ways you can find out about a groupon offer.
Raúl: You mentioned that Groupon is controlled by its users. Other than the content that you guys create how much value is brought in by the user created content.
Felipe : Eventhough Groupon is an online magazine it plays a very important part in social media. Why? Because it is created and built by its users, the users which are the consumers log in every day to buy and distribute the different Groupon offers that are published. Users also play a great part in helping these brands get recognized by sending it via twitter, retweeting, and hitting the facebook like buttons. The users are the essence of that makes Groupon so big.
Raúl:You mentioned trending topics on twitter from groupon offers that resonated in the Twitter eco-system can you tell us a bit more about that
Felipe : For example a few months ago we had a Green Day Concert Groupon published that gave the opportunity to see the band with 50% off. It was a trending topic at a global level because it was so incredible that you could go see Green Day in Latin America for half the price. This interest in our users and there contacts on twitter allowed that offer to become a trending topic.
Raúl: Any extra functionality that Groupon here in Puerto Rico might have that it would not in other places?
Felipe: Our site is the same like the one we have in the U.S. and Germany. Groupon.com.pr will start off with the general functionality and then later will add additional functionality by steps. For example Groupon Now which was launched a few months ago might be an option we might brine here.
Raúl : What other functionality does Groupon US have that Groupon.com.pr will not have at the moment
Felipe: The tools and functionality that we are currently testing in the US for example Groupon Now are currently in beta in selected cities like San Francisco and Chicago. Our Puerto Rico site will have many other features like our own blog which will be available for everyone to read our twitter profile and all those factors will be part of the effort.
Raúl: Do you guys manage your Facebook and Twitter?
Felipe: Yes we do manage it our own selves. We have resources assigned to monitor twitter, social networks, and other parts of our online presence.
Raúl: Can you please explain with more detail the Concept of Groupon International which Puerto Rico is part of to being part of the U.S.
Felipe: Puerto Rico and the US are two different countries they have different laws and that is the reason why it took so long for us to get here. We are the same global organization, the same business model and the same resources shared, the deals are the same which makes it part of the essence of Groupon.
For example we can publish in various countries. An offer might be published in US, Mexico, and Brasil. Another offer might be published in Spain and it can be published here too we are the same platform the same organization. En each country we have a dedicated team just like in Puerto Rico. We have an office in each country, we don’t only have a website we have a Team made up of local resources which are all Puerto Rican except me
Raúl: Are we going to see San Juan as an option on the main Us Site Groupon.com
Felipe: You should always visit our site via country if you interested in U.S. you go to Groupon.com if your interested in Puerto Rico you go to Groupon.com.pr. On the top of the website you will see flags for all the countries which gives you easy access to visit the other country websites.
Raúl: Is the Groupon Affiliate program going to work in the same manner as in the US? How would that benefit local blogs and websites so which can help you with your local effort?
Felipe: Groupon Affiliate is a global program that exists not only in the U.S. The affiliate program works in the same manner everywhere. Any person can become part of it if they have questions people can feel free to write to myself or my team and we can provide any additional information.
Raúl: How does the Affiliate Program Work?
Felipe: It is a bit more complex to answer that in a few minutes. With a quick overview it is a network of affiliated that send traffic to our website so those users can buy. The network is made up of various blogs and online businesses which help us build a good customer base.
Raúl : I know there are many competitors in Groupon’s market how does Groupon Differentiate from other local competitors?
Felipe: In general I prefer not to talk about my competition there are over 500 global clones. In reality Groupon invented the business model and is the business with the largest growth in history. Since we created the business model that helps us be the leader in every market, which we exist. We do our job very well, we have very high requirements to publish the best businesses only and we want the best consumers in that way we can create a unique match.
Raúl: In RaulColon.net I write about how Puerto Rico’s major issues with Customer Service. Have you guys taken into consideration the fact that you might have some merchants with customer service issues?
Felipe: Well this has two sides one the work with our partners that publish the offers which we educate and train. Since we work with only the best organizations we have a certain level of comfort that they will take care of our customers in the best way possible. This not something we have to teach to them since we assure ourselves that we visit the best businesses so they Groupon. Consumers can always expect the best service and support via Groupon. We have the Groupon promise which if anyone has a problem with a coupon we give them a full refund of what they paid. We really want to give the best service and if you call our support you are going to get someone who will try to understand your problem and try to resolve it. There is no answering machine no sales pitch we have a team in Puerto Rico that will be able to solve your problems 24/7. If you have a problem at midnight either Saturday or Tuesday we want that problem to be resolved at the moment. For us it is a priority to have a 24/7 team dedicated to supporting our customers.
The user which is the Groupon consumer in general is someone who is looking for new experiences, new places to visit. They come in with a different mindset when they get to a restaurant they expect the best. We want to transmit that to our business partners. It is a consumer who wants to spend, know the place, wants great service, which opens the door to sell more to that consumer or making him a long term customer. We have never had any problems with a merchant giving bad customer service.
Raúl: I think that giving that extra level of commitment will give Groupon a competitive advantage since the risk of exploring or buying something and it not meeting expectations is mitigated.
Felipe: We have been doing the same thing for over 2 years. We know how it works, how to treat our consumers, and how to treat our merchants to make that happen that is another advantage Groupon has.
Raúl: Will you be having a formal launch event?
Felipe: We will be launching our site on May 9. In the future we plan to have a more formal event with merchants and for the press.
Raúl: Facebook is trying to enter the Groupon Market, what advantage do you guys have over Facebook?
Felipe: In front of any competitors we have the advantage of being 2 years ahead. For us it is very important to have local presence like for example our Puerto Rico team searching for the best businesses. We have a large team in every country.
I also appreciate the time Felipe Lyon took to sit down with me at last moment before a long business trip and answer all of my questions.
Also thanks to those who asked questions via twitter that help me organize my questions including Nelson Rodriguez, @shayralee, and Mr. Wilton Vargas from @tecnectico for allowing me to post my content on his blog and also helping out.