Monday, August 13, 2012

Travelocity: Cheap Airfare Mistake Turns Into Denial

This situation has been developing for almost a month now, so it bears some discussion and reflection.  Travelocity, the large online travel agency website, has been embroiled in controversy over a seemingly harmless discount code.

Travelocity tweeted out an offer code meant for members of the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind who attended a July convention in Dallas.  The code knocked $200 off any air and hotel package booked through September 4th.  Travelocity, or so they claimed, intended the code as an exclusive deal for the roughly 3,000 NFB members who attended the National Federation for the Blind's convention earlier this summer.


The Tweet Heard 'Round The World
What is the big deal you ask?  The first issue was that by tweeting the offer code, all of Travelocity's Twitter followers were made aware of this deep discount, not just the NFB members.  The code spread like wildfire throughout frequent flyer online forums and blogs, and the rest was history.  

The second large issue was the deal itself.  Through experimenting, many realized that the hotel/air packages did not have to be booked for the same city nor was there any minimum purchase.  Many people, myself included, were able to find cheap stays in Southeast Asian hotels and combine them with flights to other more favorable destinations.  As a sample, I was able to book a flight to Los Angeles along with the dirt-cheap Thai hotel reservation I never planned to use.  The $200 off coupon easily took care of the Thai hotel and a large chunk of the flight to L.A.  Total out of pocket to me?  About $100.  Not too shabby for a transcontinental flight I'd say!


Travelocity Travel Package Page
I didn't end up booking the package, but plenty of others took advantage.  Travelocity announced they would be cancelling all reservations made by people not eligible for the code. Any cancellation fees would be waived as well.  As you can see from the articles below, the tweet and its intended audience are the subject of a fierce debate.  Gary Leff, of the popular View from the Wing blog, also weighed in with a great recap. 

What do you think?  Should Travelocity honor the bookings made with an erroneously tweeted offer code?



-Charm City Traveler

2 comments:

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