$19.28 5-Star Hotel Room Promo Ends In Fiasco

“Leading Hotels Of The World” was supposed to have a sick deal today where you could get five-star hotel rooms for $19.28 per night, but the inevitable short supply and online stampede left many futilely clicking refresh for over two hours as the servers crashed. Instead of polite bellboys, many consumers were greeted by the message, “Just a moment, please…Due to the overwhelming number of consumers participating in this promotion. We regret to inform you due to technical difficulties beyond our control the 1928 promotion has been suspended indefintely. [sic]” Irate would-be customers left messages in various forums describing their experiences…

UPDATE: Do-Over Announced By Leading Hotels Of The World


According to this email reportedly sent out by their Director of Marketing (I’m still waiting for mine), their servers crashed before they could sell all the rooms. But don’t worry, they’ll be using all those thousands of email addresses they got people to enter to sell the inventory via email.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to suspend the sale due to overwhelming demand. Although we were aware of the traffic volume and made preparations ahead of time to accommodate it, the volume of traffic nonetheless outstripped our enhanced capacity. In lieu of the online process, we will be running an alternative email based sale shortly, as most of the inventory is still unsold.

You should be receiving an email from us shortly describing the specifics, but the details you’ve provided in terms of your intentions are exactly what we are going to be asking of our consumers. With this in mind, I’ll try to get your request into the queue.

With sincere apologies for your inconvenience,

Robert Cantave
Director of Marketing Technology
The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd.

If you’re going to give away shit like a Midtown hotel for $20 a night, especially in this economy, you better ramp up capacity and load test your servers.

End Of Promotion [Leading Hotels Of The World]


Edit Your Comment

  1. BeerFox says:

    Interestingly, while
    is up and running just fine, the page
    is still a static page saying, “Servers are overwhelmed! Keep trying this page!”

  2. Sounds like someone was using the same servers Woot! uses during a Woot-off. As soon as the random BOC went up, their servers pretty much crashed/ground to a halt.

    • lalaland13 says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: Ahh yes, I remember that. It was nuts. I wanted a bag, but honestly it was kind of a rush to try and get one, so I wasn’t too terribly upset when I didn’t. There were some people posting who seemed ready to fling themselves out of windows.

      • @lalaland13: I twice got to the order page, and kept getting “server busy” messages. I emailed Woot! and they said that it was b/c they were sold out. I asked how I got in on a second window if it was sold out, and even provided them the numbers from the URL, but have not heard back from them in almost a week now. When I opened the second window, the bar had dropped slightly, but it was not sold out then. I had read how people who wanted 3, but could only select one due to the script errors, emailed and woot upped their order to 3.

        • lalaland13 says:

          @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: Yeah I got to the order page, got some “server busy” messages, and finally was able to click “submit” for my order, but the next page it said it was sold out. So oh well. I wonder what percentage of the BOCs have actual decent stuff in them? 1 in 100? 10 in 100?

          I’ll probably try again next time, but what I really want is a random shirt day from shirt.woot. That’s my favorite woot site and the one that got me started wooting.

  3. boogermike says:

    I woke up early (PST) to try, but was among the many who couldn’t get through.

    A few points:
    -This is an unbelievable promotion, and I was under no impression that I would actually be able to take advantage of it (I knew how popular this would be). I was hoping beyond hope, but knew realistically I didn’t have much of a chance.

    -I actually thought the Leading Hotels Chain handled the promotion fairly well. They did have a landing page, explaining the problem, which is better, than getting a 404 error (or “Server is overloaded message”).

    -I have been lucky enough to stay in some of these properties throughout the world, and the experience is really wonderful. If you pay attention, many of these hotels can be booked for reasonable prices (we booked the Oriental Bankok for around $250 a night).

    -I am hoping now that this promotion failed, that I have a chance to book one of these rooms after all. I was really hoping to head to Enchantment in Sedona. The fact that the promo went horribly wrong, gives me hope that I will get a second chance at this incredible rate.

  4. leprofie says:

    I started trying at 6:55 am, and by then the servers had already crashed. I got the same message at 6:55 am as I did at 9:20 am. The plan was to log on early and be ready. A couple of times a phone number appeared, but it took 45 minutes to get through that line, and then all it was was a recording that essentially said, you are out of luck if you can’t connect to the web site.

  5. UnStatusTheQuo says:

    Dear LHW,



    Thousands of Pissed off People

  6. tman996 says:

    I received one page that said all the rooms had sold out. Then I got another that stated they were unable to sell all the rooms and had to suspend the offer due to the traffic. . . FAIL!

  7. boogermike says:

    Now I am annoyed. They sent me an email, stating that they are selling the rooms, first come first served, and to “See attached form for details”.

    The email has no attachments!!!!!!!!

    I take back all things I said in my original post about LHW handling the situation OK. Now I am annoyed.

  8. U-235 says:

    I figure their servers crashed despite their ‘enhanced capacity’ because it would be stupid on their part to shell out all the extra money to increase capacity they would only require for half a day. Better to let it crash and sort out who gets your rooms later. As Ben said, they have peoples’ email addresses.

  9. wiggatron says:

    That Papa Johns thing was a freakin’ mess. People were literally getting into fights over the cheap-o pizzas, not to mention spilling onto public roads and blocking traffic. It took me forever to get home from work that day, as there’s a PJ’s within a block of my house. I thought it was funny how little people value their own time. Waiting 4+ hours for what amounts to a 10 dollar pizza for free is insane.

  10. chgoeditor says:

    Count me among the thousands who got up early and then spent 80 minutes repeatedly refreshing my browser in an effort to log in. I read the Flyertalk and Slickdeals message boards a couple hours ago, and didn’t come across a single person who got a room. Usually on a promotion like this you’ll encounter a few people online who were able to take advantage of the deal.

    What I found particularly odd is that the capacity-overload error message loaded very quickly, no matter which LHW.com page I clicked on. It makes me question whether this was a legitimate bandwidth problem, because they apparently had the bandwidth to display error messages to all of us who were frantically clicking on their site.

  11. GrantGannon says:

    They just sent the email inviting you to read the ‘attached form’ for more info on the sale. FAIL. No form attached.

  12. Sounds like they’re handling this pretty well, to me.

  13. sirfelix says:

    These bozos had as much foresight as the US Government had with Katrina.
    It only takes a few hundred people accessing a website at once to bring it down. Any 1st year webmaster knows this and they went through this fiasco anyway.

    My point? Was this planned to begin with? Conspiracy theorists begin discussion now….

  14. meske says:

    Christ people! Get over it! So their servers got crushed and you couldn’t get a room. It’s a lottery based promotion, and you lost. Next you’ll be going after ticketmaster!

    • Ananelle says:

      … Not so, Meske. The “lottery based promotion” works when there’s an actual lottery. It doesn’t seem like there was in this case, given that they are saying they still have rooms. People have a right to be angry. Just to sound like a hardcore consumer; “there are cheap rooms to be had, and i gotta have ’em!”

  15. wiretapstudios says:

    Here is a link to the document you EMAIL to them tomorrow at 12pm GMT. First come first serve. Lets hope their email servers are working better than the webpage servers.

    @meske – It’s not that one person lost, it’s that EVERYONE lost. Epic fail. It’s annoying to sit there knowing something is wrong but being tied to the keyboard ‘just in case’ for 80 minutes. Way to blame the consumers, instead of the completely unprepared company. They have 1500 strict guidelines for their 5 star hotels to pass to be on the site, yet they can’t anticipate server traffic? Not to mention they had email addresses from all the people participating.

    Doc link:


    • boogermike says:


      The link you posted is broken (no big deal) – looks to be invalid on their site, but more importantly, I wanted to thank you for the information.

      Knowing that I don’t have to worry about this until tomorrow morning, makes the rest of my day easier.

      I am not optimistic that a flood of email is a more reasonable way to do things, but at least it is a solution I can move forward. (and get on with the life I need to get).

      Bottom line, thanks so much for sharing the information, as LHW isn’t doing a good job of this.

  16. eekfuh says:

    I woke up at 5:45 am to do this and it was done before the sale started at 6am (which is 12 noon gmt).

    Seems like a bullshit publicity stunt.

  17. Rider says:

    Get lives people.

    • ucdcsteve says:

      @Rider: Different people have different priorities. I’m not going to go overboard with complaining, but people have a right to do so if a company fails to deliver. That’s what this site is about and insulting them isn’t productive to the conversation.

  18. SatiMarlborough says:

    The original confirmation email was incorrect regarding sale times for the different time zones. Luckily I realized that 12GMT is 7EST and was happy to see the servers down at that time. I still don’t have an email and was told that an email would be sent out at 9:45. This offer should not have been open to the whole world rather select markets. This is a horrible execution.

    Get over it? I made alternate arrangements to my commute just so I wouldn’t miss this sale. What a major disappointment.

  19. ryaninc says:

    Yep, I got up early to try to get one as well. Clicked refresh for over two hours. Not that I expected to get through, with the deal being so great. When I finally did get the site to load, the $19.28 deal was gone and the next “best available” deal was nearly $400 a night. :-) Pass.

  20. Jbondkicks says:

    I started trying to access the site about 15 minutes before the promotion started and had no luck. Why do things like this if they don’t have a server to handle them?

    It’s just a stupid thing to do of you can’t handle the response. The promotion ends up making the company look fooling.

    This reminds me of the Papa John’s Fiasco (giving away 23 cent pizzas because they offended LeBron James). People waited for four hours for pizza, and eventually they closed early because they were out of product. I work at a competing pizza shop and it actually brought us business (the people that wouldn’t wait four hours for a large pizza).

  21. wiretapstudios says:

    The link I posted is broken somehow now, but me being smart, I saved the document. If someone from consumerist wants to host it and put up the link, I will email the doc file to you.

  22. wiretapstudios says:

    Try this one:



    I am the senior vice president of marketing for the Leading Hotels of the World.

    There has been much spoken about our $19.28 promotion today. With this in mind, I wish to update those with an interest in this promotion, but first offer our sincercerest apology for the failure of our website.

    Depsite every effort to ensure that our website could accommodate a large spike in traffic, it ultimately failed.

    To remedy the situation, we are contacting every registrant to offer them another chance to participate in the promotion via e-mail. As was our original intent, the inventory will be available on a first come first serve basis.

    We have over 6,000 rooms designated to the $19.28promotion. Over 150,000 persons have registered for the promotion and it is our intent to offer everyone one of them an equal opportunity to secure the $19.28 rate via our back-up plan.

    I also wish to confirm that the e-mails of all registrants will be deleted at the conclusion of the promotion and shall not be used for any other purpose.


    Marshall Calder

  23. I got up real early to try to take advantage and I knew this would happen. I live in Monterey near one of the offered hotels and thought it would make a nice little get away for myself and my GF but I sat there for the full time clicking. It sucked but I totally expected it and had History Hacker playing to keep me entertained.

  24. Rippleeffect says:

    Sounds like the Blizzcon Ticket Crunch of 2008.

    That was a week I’m glad I survived.

  25. serialportme says:

    Probably a scam. They took their 200k registration and did not realize how many people would try this? They suck.

  26. LandryCretan says:

    The site was hosed an hour and a half before the start of the promotion. I was trying to look at the choices one last time and verify the names and what order I was going to try for. I also have not received the email yet but thanks to WireTapStudios, I have the form ready to send tomorrow morning. Any bets on how long the email server stays up?

  27. SOhp101 says:

    Hmm I completely forgot to do this. Oh well, looks like I didn’t miss much.

  28. thrashanddestroy says:

    Is anyone actually surprised? How many of you made comments about how quickly the site would crash when this was originally announced?

    I would have loved to take a trip down to Chicago and stay in a ritzy hotel for $20 a night for a few days, but I knew damn well this would end in heartbreak.

    Three weeks ago it was “oh, you know their servers wont be able to handle the stress” but now we’re all shouting about how it — gasp — couldn’t.

  29. wiretapstudios says:

    Yes, I am surprised that a 80 year old company who specializes in 5-star hotels including some of the best destinations in the whole world would not have spent the time or money to facilitate such a huge promotion of theirs.

    Yes, I thought it would be a clusterfudge, but not a massive failure.

  30. johnnya2 says:

    Of course those people who wanted something for next to nothing are now pissed they couldn’t get the deal. If 150k people tried and there were 6k rooms available even if the servers could handle the load you likely were not going to get the room anyway. hey said they would handle it on a first come first serve basis, and go from there. Isn’t that what would have happened if the server didn’t crash? If they did the promotion and then it failed and they said we will not have the sale, then you have a gripe, but get a grip people, based on those numbers alone it would be 4% chance to get it.

  31. Frank From Virginia says:

    I drove myself crazy with worry I would mess up and forget this. I put reminders on all of the domains I use at work and was ready at 8:00 ESDT. I only got the error message.

  32. wiretapstudios says:

    You must be joking right? Why are you coming down on people who were trying to get a valid promotion a company offered? This isn’t the Best Western + Expedia promotion, this is a very upscale company, with prime hotels, as a consumer, shouldn’t I expect the best out of the company that reserves the best hotels? How does that impact my opinion of the company as a possible future customer? They can’t handle a 19.28 promotion, so what about when I want to book a thousand dollar room for a special occasion?

  33. wiretapstudios says:

    LOL right below the large error message on that page, it says, and I quote:

    ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’s featured hotels cater to the discriminating few, where first class service is a norm rather than an exception…Online hotel reservations have never been easier.’

  34. Fly Girl says:

    I got the apology email today, too– I still doubt I’ll get the deal, but I’m happy to know that they’re going to make good on it… I woke up at 4:45 am this morning only to find that their servers were all down. I tried for an hour and then went back to bed…

  35. iceskatefan says:

    The promotion is postponed as of now but will still occur. See posting from another website.

    This is Marshall Calder, SVP of Marketing at The Leading Hotels again.

    I regret to advise you that we have decided to postpone the $19.28 e-mail promotion scheduled for October 2nd.

    We developed a back-up plan for the 150,000 persons who registered for the promotion prior to the failure of our website this morning. Unfortunately, aspects of the plan were met with some confusion over e-mail procedures and timing. Moreover, we became increasingly concerned that the volume of e-mails from non-registered persons could be great enough to cause another outage. Since we do not wish to disappoint anyone again, we shall re-tool the $19.28 promotion and communicate the details to all registrants within the next week.

  36. kaylabear says:

    Yup, I woke up superearly too (West Coast, Pacific time), hoping to book a couple of nights in NYC. I was so disappointed and convinced that the bookings had simply all sold out that while refreshing the page, I also looked at other budget options like hostels (try finding a cheap, clean, and safe hostel in NYC within 10 blocks of Downtown that offers private rooms – impossible!). But I guess this whole ‘fiasco’ is kind of a blessing in disguise, so I’m looking forward to what other plans LHW have.

  37. KernelPanic says:

    I thought the crash occured in 1929 not 1928?

    Oh well.