Friday, May 1, 2009

Priceline Is At It Again on Twitter

Fresh after ramping up its Twitter followers by 400 percent in six days with a hotel-promotion that ended April 28, Priceline is at it again with a fresh $50 marketing play with the same bulking-up-on-Twitter goals.

TheNegotiator just tweeted: "Cinco De Mayo Promo! May 5th - 500 random followers will get a $50 HOTEL COUPON! More followers = better chances!!! - pls RT!"

Actually, Priceline's strategy is ratcheted up a bit with this second promotion because it is trying to strike up relationships with influential Twitterati.

The way the Cinco De Mayo promotion is structured is that a Priceline follower who might have 1,000 followers would get 1,000 chances to win one of the 500 hotel coupons. A Priceline follower with only 10 followers would only get 10 chances to get a coupon.

Playing these odds, the most influential among Priceline's followers would take home the bulk of the 500 coupons.

It's hard to believe that an influential Twitter participant would warm up to Priceline and become a substantially more loyal customer because of a $50 coupon, but this seems to be Priceline's thinking on the issue.

Then again, perhaps this Priceline promotion is only the beginning of its efforts on Twitter to build customer loyalty.

These Priceline promotions put a punctuation mark on the question of whether offering $50 per follower might be an expensive proposition.

Alas, it must be very cost-effective and, well, cheap.

Consider that:

1. To redeem the $50 hotel coupons, followers must book a minimum 3-night stay on a relatively pricey 3-star hotel or higher.

2. And, they must do so through's high-margin Name-Your-Own Price merchant-model-hotel business.

3. So, assuming that some of those people booking rooms using the coupon aren't regular Priceline customers, the online travel agency is chalking up incremental bookings.

4. And, as is par for the course with coupon promotions, a lot of people won't use them. And, that means Priceline enticed a bunch of people to follow TheNegotiator on Twitter without spending a penny.

5. Also, think of the buzz that this promotion is creating as followers re-tweet the tweet and good-for-nothing journalists like myself write about it.

And, apparently, I was the first muckraker to write about Priceline's marketing play when I broke the story in Travel Weekly.

Incidentally, Priceline, I'm told, has worked out the coupon delivery issues and now can DM (Direct Message) thousands of hotel coupons per day through Twitter.

As of this writing, @denschaal, has 426 Twitter followers.

So, the Priceline promotion makes me wish I had a few hotels to leverage.


Elliott Ng said...

You mean you don't have a guest room? ;)

Dennis Schaal said...

Elliott, haha:)