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EVENT REPORT

Groupon Creates Weekend Summer Camp in Chicago

Photo: Sheri Whitko Photography

Groupon, the Chicago-based daily-deal Web site, hosted its first Camp Groupon July 6-8. Billed as an “all-inclusive urban adventure,” the $749 package included experiences from a private Counting Crows concert to skydiving and nightly happy hours. Swissôtel Chicago was the event headquarters, and activities and events took place at venues throughout the city. Paulette Wolf Events & Entertainment assisted with event management.

Around 500 guests purchased the package. Though the company has hosted revenue-generating events before, “this was the highest price point to date for a Groupon-hosted event and definitely the largest in terms of logistics, staffing, and external partners required to make it a success,” said Noelle Provencial, the senior manager of experiential marketing and events.

When it came to mapping out the weekend, “we wanted to experiment with an event program that highlights the values at Groupon's core: city discovery, celebrating local businesses, amazing price points, and an unrivaled consumer experience that's high-end, fun, and quirky at the same time,” Provencial said.

After meeting at the hotel for a Coors Light- and Leinenkugel-hosted happy hour on Friday night with treats from other sponsors including Lifeway Kefir, guests headed to a showing of The Blues Brothers movie on Wrigley Field. On Saturday, the so-called campers set out on one of five activity tracks.

“[The tracks] were aligned with some of the major deal categories that you'll find every day on Groupon,“ Provencial said. “We went after relaxing activities like yoga on the beach with massages for [the] 'Tranquility Glen' [track] and active things like kayaking on the Chicago River for 'Adventure Hill.'”

Staffers added twists and surprises so that each activity became unique to Camp Groupon. Stilt-walkers, for example, greeted campers who ventured to the Museum of Science and Industry, and planners staged a pillow fight in a Lake Shore East Park for the guests to see on their ride back to the city. On Saturday night, all the camp guests headed to Navy Pier for a private concert from the Counting Crows and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals; Potter greeted guests and posed for photos at an on-site meet and greet.

Provencial said that a major challenge of planning the event was “creating the campers' itineraries so that we did not have people changing buses between their activities or meals.” Planners ultimately worked out a way to let guests stay on the same bus throughout the day, “which made everything easier” and kept the campers on track.