Indiana Jones and the legend of the mythical £9 hotel room

8 April 2009

Ah, the fabled hotel-rooms-for-less-than-a-tenner promotion. How could you possibly resist such a deal? You can't. You want it. Now. Whether you get it is an entirely different matter. Last September, Travelodge advertised "thousands of rooms" at £9 per night. Unfortunately the majority of them appeared to be exclusively available at a previously unmentioned, unadvertised and invisible lunar colony.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) received three complaints regarding the availability of the cheapo rooms. Travelodge responded with some facts and figures; out of two million rooms available during the stay dates, around 67,000 (3.3 per cent) were available at £9. 350 hotels took part, with two hotels excluded due to "an apparent oversight". Another 8,500 rooms were added on the second day of the sale, the Travelodge management apparently caught by surprise of the offer's success, as they always seemingly are.

Now if 3.3 per cent sounds low to you, then you're not alone: Travelodge admitted the percentage of £9 rooms available varied widely from hotel to hotel, ranging from under one per cent to nearly 30 per cent. In fact only two of the 350 hotels had percentages of available rooms that exceeded the 10 per cent figure the ASA typically regards as a minimum requirement - no doubt some hole of a location that nobody ever wants to visit, and that one on the Moon.

The ASA upheld the complaints and stated that "even if demand had not been higher than anticipated, customers would be likely to experience difficulty in finding a room at the offer price." What action is to be taken against the company for misleading customers and whoring itself on the back of a dubious promotion? None whatsoever. As usual. All the very best.

[ASA]

TOPICS:   Advertising

6 comments

  • The B.
    Like all overseeing bodies populated by people who used to work in the requisite industry and are thus part of the old boys network the ASA is about as effective as toothpaste on thrush.
  • Ryan
    I don't know why people complain about this type of thing. There were plenty of rooms available and you just had to compete with the masses. If they sold out before you could book, that's your problem. I myself managed to book a Sat night last month in Cambridge. Surely people can't expect 100% of rooms to be available at that price.
  • SimbaK2K
    If people didn't get the rooms they were probably too slow. I got Heathrow airport for £9 and had many others at similar prices.
  • Paul S.
    I think that while there were obviously plenty of rooms available, they were stacked in such a way that unpopular hotels carried the bulk of the inventory. You might expect that to a point, but then it's hardly reasonable for those hotels with availability of less than 1% to sit on the coat tails of a £9 room sale. It's misleading. Besides which, the ASA asks for 10% as a minimum requirement so that consumers aren't mislead - 348 of the 350 hotels featured in the promotion broke that requirement. End of story. Travelodge mislead consumers. I doubt anybody has a problem competing with others for a bargain, but that's not the issue - the bargains promised by Travelodge didn't actually exist in nearly all instances. How many people would have gone on to book a room regardless? Travelodge will have picked up thousands in residual bookings for a marketing campaign the ASA deemed to be thoroughly misleading in the first place.
  • Rich
    I agree with Ryan. I have been able to book £9 rooms, there have been plenty available when I have booked and when you are there, they are great! If people just complain, it might get to a point where they wont do the promotion anymore!!
  • Paul S.
    People weren't complaining about the offer selling out too quick. They were questioning the availability of the offer. 348 out 350 hotels didn't have the minimum number of rooms available at the price advertised. Good on you if you got on of those rooms, but it's irrelevant - the offer was deemed to be misleading.

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