Yesterday approximately 90 000 of the nation’s working hours were wasted as thousands of people sat idly in front of their computer screens waiting for a deal they were destined to miss out on.
The odds were stacked against the 30 000+ people who became ‘Facebook fans’ of Brisbane-based hotel booking website Wotif.com in the last few days in the belief that they’d be able to secure a room booking for $11.
Online entrepreneur and creator of WalletShop.com.au, Noelle Towler, said they estimated that the gimmick cost Australian business over $3 million worth of wasted productivity.
“We’re in the business of helping people keep their money safe – and today we saw millions of it burned in a stunt that left many people wanting more,” Ms Towler said.
“Assuming only half of the site’s Facebook fans spent 3 hours of the day eagerly refreshing their browser waiting for the announcement to be released, that works out to around $3.02 million in lost productivity*
Leading UK Social Media advisor, Tom Greenwood from Scamper Branding, commented that the stunt may have been more detrimental to Wotif.com’s brand than positive.
“While Wotif.com may have seen their Facebook fans shoot up by over 30 000 people in a matter of days, they failed to engage effectively and plan for the response of those fans,” Mr Greenwood said.
“Hundreds of comments were being posted on the website’s Facebook wall every minute and very few of them were positive,” he said.
“People were complaining that they had been waiting too long, that they were going on lunch, that they had to go and pick up the kids from school... and every negative comment was left completely unanswered.”
“It could have been a magical moment for their brand, but instead they saw an instant drop in loyalty as 3000 fans rapidly ‘unliked’ the page as soon as the promotion was over and they missed out on getting a deal.”
Hotels-Fairy.com owner, Vineeta Mangalmurti, said it was a pity that the booking giant needed to resort to cheap gimmicks to get people booking, but was grateful for unintentional referrals.
“What we saw during those hours was many people motivated to book hotels and feeling frustrated that they had to wait so long,” Ms Mangalmurti said.
“Many people commented that they were ‘jumping ship’ to another booking website like ours because they were sick of the uncertainty of when the deal would be released,” she said.
“It turns out that while people want the best deal that’s available across the internet, many aren’t prepared to wait hours and hours to get it – that’s why we offer a comparison service that finds the best deals across all the booking sites, all the time.”
At the beginning of the week Wotif.com had around 29 000 Facebook fans before they announced on Wednesday through a mass newsletter that they would be releasing $11 deals for 11 minutes on Thursday.
Facebook fans rapidly rose, peaking at around 62 000 as the deal went live at around 2.40 pm. In the hour after the deal ended, the numbers dropped to around 59 000.
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*Calculation based on:
• 30 000 of Wotif.com’s Facebook fans (which peaked at around 62 000 as the deal went live)
• 3 hours each checking for the deal (which went live at approximately 2:40 pm)
• average Australian wage of $64 641 per annum (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010)
• working 37 hour weeks (Australian Bureau of Statistics).
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