Hotel prepares social media response after campaign backlash

London’s Hoxton Hotel has created a bit of a social media storm this morning after unleashing its 500 room sale which was sold out in a minute.

Hard to believe for many fans of the property hence the backlash on Facebook and Twitter in the past hour.

Comments range from the annoyed saying it’s not physically possible to those saying the website crashed and the really outraged who are removing themselves from ‘like’ on Facebook immediately.

So, where did it all go wrong? Both the Facebook page and the Twitter page show happy fans of the hotel who managed to get a room, it’s just that those who didn’t now feel scammed and are more vociferous.

The hotel tells us the website-based promotion was real, ran smoothly at the time but was genuinely sold out in a minute.

The property is now preparing a response for the social networks and also has a second promotion running via a prize draw on Facebook for 50 rooms for £1.

The spokesperson also says similar campaigns will run in the future but dates haven’t yet been set.

So, is this a #PRfail, a trendy hotel under-estimating its popularity and what could it have done differently?

One thing it might want to do immediately is change the home page which currently lands consumers with a page that says the £1 promotion is sold out.

What will be really useful is the learnings from this exercise going forward and what the hotel’s next move is.

Social media experts always say a mix of good and bad views presents a balanced picture.

Will the Hoxton be able to turn some of those dissenters into brand advocates?

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda is Managing Editor for tnooz. For the past decade, she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine. In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management, and research companies. Prior to her freelance career, she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.



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  1. Jerry Nordstrom

    Social Fail? No, not at all. Marketing strategy fail? Perhaps.
    If you have a high end product or service then generating a massive amount of unqualified traffic using a one pound offer will not result in attracting your target customer. Noise to signal ratio is to high to make it a worthy tactic.

    If they were looking to create brand exposure to a vast and general audience as the first step in an awareness campaing, soon to be followed up with other offers, then it was a success. Heck, after paying a small fortune to stay in a hot closet that is the Marriott in London I would have taken a stab at a 1 pound room.

    $1 dollar social media set up to the first 2 business customers to submit a request today June 27, 🙂

  2. Martino Matijevic

    Doesn’t Hoxton nor their PR agency read Tnooz? Would be great to see them chip in the conversation and hear directly from them if (and what) they learned from this.

  3. Michael Kaye

    These kind if promotions have an intrinsic message about how a business wants to relate to their customers. The message is that in return for buzz or moving distressed inventory we give preference to the whomever is lucky or agile enough to get in on the offer over the long time guest who has earned preference by repeatedly choosing us at profitable rates. Seen in this light the decision to use a promotion of this kind makes sense for some businesses and not for others. What does not make sense is thinking that you can have the promotion and escape sending the message.

  4. John D

    Was it a #PRFail? I’m sure it wasn’t intended this way, but you just wrote an article about a hotel you likely wouldn’t have mentioned and I just read the full article about a hotel I didn’t know about. This blunder just gave the short-lived 1-minute offer its 15-minutes of fame. What do I take away from this article? Hotel does one pound hotel promotions on a regular basis and has so many fans that is sells out instantaneously. I think this will do them more good than harm, though I wouldn’t recommend other businesses try to purposely craft these scenarios.

    • Jenn Seeley

      Like you, I just learned of a hotel I was unfamiliar with. I am intrigued by their desire to use social media, as it’s kind of what I do – and am passionate about. In my books? Totally not a fail. I wouldn’t really go so far as to say this generated bad publicity as much as it identified a lot of entitled, sore losers. However, we all know the old adage that negative publicity is still publicity. Hoxton may not have anticipated this exact response, but the alternative could have been that it ran quietly, a bunch of people got cheap rooms, said little to nothing about it, and life went on. Instead, look at all the buzz it’s generating? I hope they just ride the wave of the attention and pull off all the fancy tricks they can to end up #winning.

      Jenn Seeley
      Community Engagement, Radian6

  5. Stavan Shah

    It was certainly not a bad idea from the hotel’s standpoint. It definitely helped them achieve their goal of getting publicity, albeit it might have backfired a bit. And, from the ‘fan’s’ perspective, its naturally tough to comprehend that so many rooms vanished in a matter of a minute.
    Undoubtedly, it’s a steal to get ANY hotel room for $1, let alone a trendy one. Given how quickly they got sold out, can be attributed to #PRblunder. In any case, the idea certainly has merit, but instead they should have either done what they are doing right now, which is $1 prize draw or could raise the stake to say $50/room. That I believe would have been a win win.

  6. Martin Soler

    Hoxton regularly does $1 sales, and I think they’ve done a great job at creating buzz about their hotel. Maybe the fail here was doing 500 in one shot instead of 50 a day for 10 days and thus at least making it last 10 minutes. In any case, they’re one of the hotels that has managed to keep a great social media presence using special offers and other tools.

    Was it a PR fail? Dont’ think so because the more people talk about you the more brand recognition you’re getting.

  7. Rowan

    This isn’t the first time a supplier has offered inventory via social media and had it blow up on them. When will these companies learn?

    If a company is going to do something like this on social media, plans should take into account the worst-case scenarios:

    System overload
    Super-fast sellout
    Negative responses from those who are shut out

    Because invariably one of them will happen.

  8. DJBorkowski

    It is really funny that people are mad that they (like so many other people) did not get a £1 room… It is like saying they are mad they didn’t win the lotto or wasn’t the 100th caller. Seems like these people are acting a little entitled.
    I don’t think it was a #PRfail on its own, sadly the strange backlash blew it up. They may never try the stunt again but I don’t think it was a bad idea, only maybe in hindsight.

    • Amelia

      Yes, I agree! It’s just bad luck. It’s definitely worth a try to attempt to score such a good deal but there’s no promises. A hotel I worked for did a similar promo with spa gift certs for the first x amount of callers. Predictably, someone didn’t get through until right after the prizes were exhausted and her response was “so what are you going to do about it?”.
      …although, perhaps that attitude is worth a try as well, in case the company decides their popular promo is suddenly a #PRfail.


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