A new website -- Sciddy (www.sciddy.com) -- is vying to be a "go-to" resource for seniors seeking discounts on just about anything. Although it's still very much a work in progress, you might find it a useful check for any place you intend to visit. But pickings to date are pretty slim: Sciddy calls its senior discounts "unbelievable;" so far, I'd call them "underwhelming."
Sciddy doesn't arrange discounts; it just compiles discounts available from diverse sources. And for travelers, your main targets will be on things to buy and do at your destination:
-- Travel & Transportation category includes air travel, B&Bs, bus travel, cruises, and rental cars.
-- Food & Drink category includes bakeries, bars, buffets, delis, grocery stores, ice cream, and 10 restaurant subcategories ranging from barbecue and buffets to pizza and seafood.
-- Attractions and Landmarks category includes amusement parks, local attractions, museums, pro sports tickets, and zoos.
The other categories, such as Health, Home & Garden, Financial, Pets, Education, Shopping, and Automotive, target local residents rather than visitors. Sciddy says its listed discounts start at age 50, but many individual locations establish minimum qualifying ages up to 65.
Sciddy is easy to use. Log onto the site, enter an area you plan to visit, click on an individual category, and wait for the display. I checked the three destination categories for four cities -- my home area (around Ashland and Medford. Ore.), my nearest big city (Portland), Chicago, and New York City, and found about the same mix:
-- Restaurant deals were mainly for fast-food chains and about what you would expect through AARP or other mass membership programs -- mostly minor percent-off deals. Many listings just say, "Discounts vary by location." I didn't see any listings for "tablecloth" restaurants or upscale joints.
-- Hotel and rental car deals are pretty much limited to AARP discounts, cruise listings are for local travel agencies that claim to offer "senior deals," and there are no air travel deals.
-- Attractions deals are extremely limited -- mainly a few museums in the big cities.
All categories included many pages of potential listings with the notation, "Needs to be contacted." Clearly, Sciddy needs lots more listings -- and it's asking for them.
Thus, at least so far, Sciddy's main feature is a compilation of fast-food restaurants, many of which offer small discounts -- mostly 10 percent off, a few at 20 percent. Over the years, Sciddy may well add more substantive offerings of greater interest to travelers. But for now, I would rank Sciddy third on my list of sources for destination area deals, and neither of the other two is limited to seniors:
-- My favorite -- a new favorite -- is the recently launched private-sale site, Savored (www.savored.com), that arranges 30 percent discounts at 635 participating restaurants, mainly upscale, in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington. Discounts are available only by advance reservation, for a $10 fee, but they're significant for good dining. You have to sign up for membership, no fee.
-- Next, I would go with the very low-tech but still useful Entertainment guides (www.entertainment.com, 888-231-7283), loaded with discount coupons for a wide range of eating establishments from fast food to tablecloth, as well as deals at local amusements. And Entertainment's traditional half-off hotel deals are often better than you can get through AARP. Entertainment has reduced the prices of all of this year's books to $8.95 each.
My review of Sciddy's offerings confirms what I've been saying for some years now: Really good senior deals are few and far between. Most of the time, seniors do much better arranging discounts through sources available to travelers of any age. And as for senior deals on air tickets, forget them. Sciddy doesn't list any for a very good reason: There aren't any.
(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perkins' new book for small business and independent professionals, "Business Travel When It's Your Money," is now available through www.mybusinesstravel.com or www.amazon.com).