Leading Hotels Fiasco

“In a case study of how technology can sometimes fail a brand, Leading Hotels of the World — with 450 luxury hotels in North, South and Central America; Asia; Europe; and Africa — advertised a promotion last month to celebrate its 80th anniversary. It offered consumers a chance to win two nights at any of its properties between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 for $19.28 each night.

The company made 3,000 rooms, or 6,000 hotel nights, available for the promotion.

Too popular
“Much of it was handled in-house, with a lot of it online, a lot of one-to-one marketing,” Mr. Calder said. “We contacted many of the customers in our database, it got some press pickup, and it got a lot of mention on blogs and travel sites. It really took off.”

Maybe too much. Some 150,000 people registered for the promo and were directed to a dedicated site Oct. 1 to attempt to book the $19.28 rooms.

The site crashed almost immediately. Most people were shut out; those who did get into the site were not able to book any rooms. “

As mentioned in the article the promotion was handled internally. One would hope that if they had engaged any decent agency that they could have identified the potential technology issues as well as been able to properly manage any unforeseen complications. What I actually see as the bigger story here is that the power of the internet was once again proven.

I am sure senior people at Leading Hotels were thinking … well, its just a small online promo, we expect to receive a response but since our only communications are one-to-one with current customers it should be fairly small. Right? We’ll be fine managing it internally.

Wrong. Word travels fast on the internet and bad blood travels even faster.

Read the full article on Advertising Age.

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