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Travel companies are going gaga for social media and apparently their marketing budgets have been beefed up to prove it. Yesterday, I wrote about AA giving out free miles for “liking” them on Facebook and now some Hampton Inns in Massachusetts are giving people 10,000 Hilton points for joining their loyalty program by text. The difference between these promos is that AA’s was realistic and scalable, whereas the Hilton one requires manual processing by a person at the hotel, who is sure to get bombarded with requests (mine included) over the next few weeks. The power of social media is that it can go viral – which can either benefit or hurt your brand in record time. By launching an unscalable promotion, scores of people are bound to be disappointed, which will negatively impact them in the end. As you’ll see in the instructions below, it seems this promo is already making the rounds. But, when it’s all said and done, I’m confident Hilton will pay out – in the name of preserving their brand in a social media crazed world.
I just texted and received a text back to call them (this seems incredible inefficient). I called and got, “That mailbox is full and cannot accept any more messages at this time.”
Update: Thanks to TPG reader Lauren, simply send an email to email@example.com your name, your hilton #, and your phone #, and she will deposit 10,000 points in your account. Even if you didn’t get the text confirmation, its worth a shot! I added in that I appreciated them running this program and I’m sure to give my loyalty to their hotel next time I’m in Boston.
Update 2: Got this Out of Office:
“Thank you for your e-mail. If this is in regards to the Loyalty Program Promotion of 10,000 points, unfortunatly the promotion has reached its maximum membership as of Friday, February 18, 2011. Therefore, the promotion/points are no longer available.
Thank you for your loyalty to the Hampton brand. “
Unnacceptable! They had this promo live as of this mornning, February 23rd. Now I feel like they are lying to us- all they had to do was take 1 second to update their Facebook account. If the promo truly ended 5 days ago, why wouldn’t they have noted that on their Facebook?
Update 3: Now Hilton really has me mad. Not only are they trying to weasel out of the promo they advertised, but they are actually text spamming me promos for the Hampton Inn! See below for the text I just got. Way to add insult to injury Hilton. I think they officially win the award for bungled promotion of the year.
Update 4: Okay, now this is just getting ridiculous. I just got ANOTHER text from the special Hampton Inn text club:
Hampton Inn: Send your name and HH Number to firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll receive your 10k HH points after your first stay at either participating hotel.
Okay, so many things are wrong with this situation.
1) What reputable hotel chain uses a HOTMAIL email address to administer loyalty program promotions?
2) What are the participating properties? The text message is simply from “Hampton Inn”
Overall, I’m embarrassed for Hilton. I’m sure this will go into a Harvard Business School case study on how NOT to run a social media promotion and also under “How to NOT solve a marketing crisis that you created”. Hilton needs to cut their losses and award the points for those who followed through with this promotion as it was advertised. In the scheme of things 10,000 points may actually create loyalty with people who may not have considered Hilton. I have 5,000 in my account (leftover from my last redemption at the Conrad Punta Del Este). If I got 10,000 more points, I may actually stay at a couple Hiltons to get me to the 40,000 level.
However, now I’m just annoyed. They’ve clogged up my inbox and sent me on a wild goose chase for a few token points. While I’m always up for the chase, I like it when companies play by the rules that they create. Changing it half way through isn’t right, especially when you are trying to build loyalty. Tsk tsk Hilton- I feel like corporate needs to step in and clean up this mess.
If you go for this promo, keep me updated on your progress on actually getting the points. My gut tells me that we will get them sooner or later – in my opinion there’s little risk in trying.