Today the three emails all came through at around 907am Australian time/1107am New Zealand time. They were all promoting a cheap holiday deal in New Zealand.
The snafu was that this email came 17 hours after a massive earthquake ripped through Christchurch, New Zealand. This major tourist centre seems to have lots most of its hotels and the biggest hotel in the City, the 26 storey Grand Chancellor may collapse. Some people reported that the email had a picture of the Cathedral which was destroyed on the ad but mine didn’t, which seems strange.
Expedia when confronted said: We’re very saddened about the quake situation for the people of Christchurch. Our newsletters are deployed from London and the mail-out commenced before the quake hit. We would never issue anything like this intentionally. We are working with Expedia customers in the area and those who are planning to travel imminently to this part of New Zealand to help make alternate arrangements. In the meantime we have postponed the sale.
We apologise for any offence this morning’s newsletter may have caused.
Nicholas Chu, GM Expedia Australia & New Zealand
These were both acceptable responses from Expedia.
I do not buy, however, that an e-newsletter takes over 17 hours to be sent out. It is normal practice to write an electronic newsletter and have it waiting to go. In theory, my company has our monthly e-News written by the 10th to be sent on the 15th. This means that the Expedia newsletter was probably written before the earthquake and loaded onto an email delivery sitting system ready to be sent to customers to read the morning of the earthquake.
What puzzles me is that Expedia could not then pull the newsletter once, the earthquake had happened. There seem to be five possible explanations for this:
- No one monitors upcoming sales at Expedia – Expedia clearly needs to improve its systems then. My company got caught once and so now we dont let anything go, that has not been approved
- The people who wrote about it wrote it so far in advance that they forgot about it -see above – we have a systems problem
- The newsletter compilers did not consider the implications of it – this illustrates a lack of customer focus
- The people in London did not know where Christchurch was when they sent out a NZ sale advertisement- for a travel company lack of geography is not a good thing
- the people who wrote about it were too busy volunteering rescuing people from the rubble in Christchurch to get it offline