Navy Pier, like other enterprises, is finding the use of daily deal site Groupon to be a mixed blessing.
The pier sold 7,500 Groupons for the beginning days of its annual Winter WonderFest, an 283 percent increase from its first venture into discounted sales via Groupon last year.
This raised overall ticket sales by 12 percent. But use of the deal site, plus parking discounts at the pier, brought event revenue to date down 8 percent, to $420,000, pier officials reported Wednesday morning.
Those buying Groupons, which can be used only through Dec. 17, pay only $9 per ticket, half the full price of $18. Groupon keeps half, its typical arrangement, so the pier clears only $4.50.
While pier officials expect to garner more revenue than last year for the indoor holiday fun fair, which runs through Jan. 2, they plan to evaluate whether to use Groupon again, at least at those deep discount levels.
“We will have to see if it will be worth it going forward if we can’t get better terms,” said Mark Thompson, senior director of marketing for the pier.
Pier officials made the report to the board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the state-city agency that owns and operates the pier and McCormick Place, at its monthly meeting.