“Availability” is a very important restriction in the travel industry. Consumers assume that it means that if it is a room is available, they will be able to book it. That’s not what it actually means. Much like airlines, hotels divide their rooms into multiple inventory buckets. In order to use a Groupon, there must be availability in the Groupon bucket. Because of the low price that hotels receive for Groupon rooms, Groupon customers will be in one of the lowest availability buckets. The reason that regular Groupons are so generous is that merchants are sold on the line that they can do the first deal at a loss and you will become a repeat customer. Hotels don’t buy that. To a hotel revenue manager, you’re a head in a bed. Not only must your head be profitable for a given night, it must be maximally profitable. If there’s a big convention in town and rooms are selling for $500 a night, you won’t be able to use that Groupon voucher that you bought for $100 a night. This is especially important because Groupon Getaways works differently from most travel sites. You typically select a hotel, pick dates and then you get prices. (Which vary significantly based on the dates that you pick.) If you book, the prices are guaranteed for those dates. With Groupon, you’re not buying a specific date when you click. You’re actually buying a voucher that you may or may not be able to redeem at a later date. Think of it as buying a frequent flier voucher for a later trip. Get the full story at GigaOM