Wednesday 26 October 2011

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Why I Always Read Expedia's E-mails.

I just got an e-mail from Expedia announcing a prepaid Mastercard rebate on Vegas vacation packages for the next six months. It's a mediocre offer that really has no value to me, as I'm pretty sure I can do better booking things on my own. So why do I mention it here? I mention it because after last years Vegas promotion, I check every one of Expedia's offers very carefully.

It was a dark and rainy November day (Actually, I have no idea what the weather was like. Considering that I live on the west coast of Canada, it seems like a safe bet that it was rainy at the very least. Let's go with that and move on shall we?) and I was doing what I do every morning - checking the Flyertalk message boards for deals. I usually try and check the message boards a few times a day, as super deals tend not to last too long once people start booking them. This time, among the smattering of JFK-MIA deals (Why is that route always on sale?) was a post about Expedia offering $300 off vacation packages to Vegas. I vaguely remembered seeing an e-mail on something like that the day before, but I hadn't bothered to read it too carefully as I'd never actually found anything good in an Expedia e-mail before. Fortunately, other people are far smarter than me.

The Expedia offer was supposed to be for vacation packages originating out of Canada (about time we got some love up here) but somebody noticed that Expedia had failed to specify the "out of Canada" part in their  terms and conditions. That meant you could fly from anywhere to Vegas and get $300 off. Do you know how much a vacation package to Vegas costs from pretty much anywhere in the United States? Yeah, less than $300. You could literally book free flights and hotels to Las Vegas on Expedia (It was available to New York and Cancun as well, but from where I live that's way more than $300.). There were some restrictions of course. If you were flying from further away, airfare ate up most of your $300, so you had to choose from the cheaper hotels to keep your total low. Those who were closer, were able to afford some of the nicer hotels, and those who had really short flights in from California, had to add show tickets to their package just to get it up to $300.

Christmas Eve service
We each booked a flight and two nights hotel at the Excalibur, which after the $300 discount brought our total to $9 per person. We only used six of our hotel nights, taking two rooms for three nights each and throwing the other four away. Figuring that three days in Vegas would be plenty for our kids, we then rented a van and went to Disneyland for four nights (including Christmas Day, my favorite day to be at Disneyland) and then to Phoenix for three more, before coming back to Vegas for one night prior to flying back home on New Years Eve, because if there's one place I don't want to be with my kids on December 31st, it's Las Vegas.

Obviously I don't expect somebody to hand me a free vacation every year at Christmas, although I'm more than willing to make it a tradition if anyone wants to make a similar offer. I do have to say that it made me feel a little guilty. It took Expedia almost 24 hours to get the offer shut down last year, and there were quite a lot of people who got in on the deal. It wouldn't have surprised me if Expedia had decided not to honor the mistake, and I doubt that I would have held it against them if they chose not to. I was very impressed that they elected to make good on their error, and if I can offer them a little something in return, please know that since that day, I always, always, always, read every e-mail that Expedia sends out.