When will travel companies learn the power of social/viral media?

A few days ago I posted about TripAlertz offering existing members a $10 bonus for each new sign-up. All that was required was a valid email address, and not even a purchase or anything else. I wasn’t sold on the concept of the website which is basically that it’s a Groupon of travel, given that I think Groupon works because it’s “local.” A savings of $55 on a hotel in Aruba when I have to book an expensive ticket to get there isn’t all that tempting. Still, for $10 per referred member it was well worth it and I figured most of us could find some use of the credit that would be worthwhile.

This was of course ridiculously generous, and I was curious how they’d try to “recover” from this, since obviously this was going to cost them a lot of money. I’m sure they intended for people to maybe refer two or three friends, which basically translates to a $20-30 discount on a vacation package. I think they forgot this is 2011 and there is Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc., where we all have tons of (virtual) “friends.”

Anyway, not surprisingly they lowered the bonus from $10 to $1, which seems much more reasonable, but retroactively changed the expiration date of the credit from two years to one year.

I just don’t get it. You’d think these start ups would have someone on their team that knows a thing or two about social/viral media, and would advise against something like this. But then again, the same thing has happened to much larger travel providers, so I can’t say I’m surprised.

I’m almost kind of expecting they’ll only have crappy deals for the next year until our credits expire, though I guess we’ll see!

Comments

  1. I only got $70 in credit, which I may or may not use. You have to tell us how much you got through *your* link though, lucky 😀

  2. There was really no reason someone couldn’t create 30 fake accounts and get $300 for himself. Except that the deals, like Lucky pointed out, probably weren’t really good enough to justify the effort. I didn’t really see anything among the current offers that I wanted to buy.

  3. They can retroactively cancel the credit of people who created fake accounts. It’s in their terms to do so. Though they may not have anyone who is social media savvy, they likely have IT people (or their webhost does) who know how to review application server logs. If they see someone created 50 accounts while originating from the same IP address, that’s a bit of an obvious clue.

    Of course there are ways around that too for any IT savvy consumers.

  4. They ran this promo almost a year ago and are aware of the power of the internet. In fact they accused me of fraud last year when I first got signups under the $10 program. They knew what they were doing. I’m hoping some of the nice offers return where we can all take advantage of the referral credits that were posted. BTW: the backed up on the fraud suggestion.

  5. Exactly, free advertisement and plenty of people that signed up hoping they’d get referrals to sign up. My friends are lame. Only one person took the time to sign up while it was still $10. I got a straggler today for $1. But now I’m already signed up. And I may not cancel. That pays off for them.

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