Oct022008

LHW 1928 Promotion Saga – LHW Response

LHW 1928 Promotion Saga – LHW Emails Respond to Promotion Disaster

The power of a social network site was demonstrated with the rapid fire posting of information yesterday on the FlyerTalk LHW 1928 thread (page 51 is when LHW responds to promotion meltdown).  Interspersed between the whines and calls for lawyers were cogent posts from an LHW representative proactively providing information to the FlyerTalk thread readers.  I learned about the rescheduled email promotion from an LHW representative posting on FlyerTalk a couple of hours before I actually received the email to my inbox.

Yesterday I received two emails from LHW regarding the 1928 promotion.

The first email provided a form for resubmitting a request for a reservation with space for up to 3 LHW hotels.  I was asked to submit the form during an 80 minute window beginning at 5am California time on Thursday, October 2, 2008.

The text of the email is shown here:

Dear Ric Garrido,

 

We are deeply sorry for today’s disruption of the USD 19.28 sale. Demand for this promotion far surpassed our expectations, and due to the exorbitant amount of traffic to www.lhw.com/1928, we were unable to accommodate travel requests. Nonetheless, we intend on making every effort to honor the offer on a first come, first serve basis, and have devised a plan to enable you to apply for the USD 19.28 rate. (The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. makes no representation or guarantee that it will be able to fulfill your request.)

 

Please click here to download the form for details. As a reminder, below is a complete list of the hotels participating in this promotion.

Thank You,

 

The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. “

 

And this is the form:

 

 

 

 LHW 1928 email form

 

Approximately four hours later a second email from Ted Teng, Leading Hotels of the World President and CEO, arrived stating the October 2 email promotion is suspended and email registrants for the 1928 promotion will be contacted next week with further details.

 

Dear Ric Garrido,

 

Thank you so much for your continued patience with The Leading Hotels of the World. We are extremely sorry for the inconveniences we have caused and regret to advise you that the USD 19.28 email promotion scheduled for tomorrow October 2nd shall be postponed.

 

Although our original back-up plan provided a viable solution for the 150,000 people who were registered, it was met with some confusion over submission procedures and timing. In addition, we have become increasingly concerned that a large number of non-registered respondents plan to submit forms which would inundate the system and greatly diminish your chances of securing a USD 19.28 rate.

 

In view of this, please do not email your form tomorrow. You will most likely receive an error message we have put in place as a safety mechanism.

 

We are sincerely committed to restoring your faith in our brand and do not want to risk disappointing you again. We are working tirelessly to develop a solution that will be fair for you and all registered participants. We will email you next week with further details.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ted Teng

President & CEO

The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd.

 

Unfortunately, what looked to be a great marketing campaign caught fire with the media and the public.  I googled the LHW 1928 promotion yesterday morning to see how my blog post ranked and all I found was page upon page of mainstream media news reports from local papers and TV stations reporting on the promotion for the past three weeks.  I am surprised only 150,000 people registered for the 1928 promotion. 

I had this story marked since September 5 for writing a blog post about the LHW 1928 promotion.  I decided to wait until just two days before the promotion so the idea would be fresh in readers’ minds to be prepared for the 80 minute booking window.

My thoughts on the resolution of the PR disaster is persons who registered for the promotion will likely receive a discount offer for an LHW stay in addition to another opportunity for $19.28 roomnights.  The point of a marketing campaign is to get loyal customers.  Repeat customers are much less costly to direct market hotel advertising than a shotgun blast to the public.

LHW states they have 150,000 of us registered for the 1928 promotion.  That is a good direct marketing base and now all they have to do is come up with a plan to keep us interested in LHW.  I don’t expect all 150,000 of us to receive a $19.28 room night reservation as compensation for our wasted time, although that would be nice. 

I expected to have wasted time in trying to secure a room for a particular date at a specific hotel.  I have played the auction bidding game and know it is a matter of patience and trying to be clever enough to get the right bid.  I’ve spent hours planning flights on a great airfare sale and then have the fare reprice higher before getting my ticket purchase finalized.  I wasted a couple of hours in the past month trying to get low hotel rates through the Sheraton San Diego and Super 8 motel promotions.

What makes the LHW sale different is I just didn’t expect to be locked out of any possibility of getting a room reservation.  And if it weren’t for the transparency facilitated by a social media site like FlyerTalk I, and you, would probably have assumed we were just unlucky and some 6,000 other people beat us to the bargain rooms for $19.28 per night.

FlyerTalk made us aware that it was a system-wide failure on LHW’s part.  When nobody can access the promotion site, trying from countries all over the world, then you know there is something not working with the promotion rather than just your own bad luck.

The registration and posting of information on the FlyerTalk thread from Marshall Calder, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Leading Hotels of the World, showed a sincere attempt to keep the public informed through an active social media channel which also allowed those of us reading FlyerTalk to disseminate information to others not reading FlyerTalk. 

I do expect some attempt will be made to provide a generous discount on an LHW stay or some other promotional offer to try and retain the attention and place a positive spin on the potential customers who generated an overwhelming interest in the LHW 1928 promotion.

I think LHW is now taking the necessary time to really plan an appropriate response.  We may not all get $19.28 rooms, but I predict registered participants will get something in the way of a discount offer from LHW that is not available to the general public.

Some of us will likely still get $19.28 rooms and I imagine the rest of us will get some stay incentive for an LHW hotel member rather than being left empty-handed if we still miss out on the cheap room nights when the promotion is resumed.

 

 

 

I’ll keep you posted as developments occur.

 

 

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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