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Product: Travel (Holiday Package)
Advertiser: The Holyrood Hotel
Medium: Social Media (Company's Own Page)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.6, 4.9, 4.10
An advertisement promoting a hotel stay appeared on the advertisers’ Facebook page. It featured an image of a family alongside pictures depicting the exterior of the hotel, the interior of a bedroom, a swimming pool and a spa. The text stated:
“Family Spoiling Deal
July 1st – 9th
2 Nights B&B + 1 (4 Course) Dinner
Seaweed Bath/Spa Treatment
Kids Stay FREE
€198 for 2 People”
The complainant said she had attempted to avail of the advertised offer for a Friday – Sunday stay and was told that the offer was not available on weekends and that a stay on weekend dates would cost €298.
She therefore considered the advertisement to be misleading as it listed the valid dates as 1st – 9th July and did not state that the offer applied to weekdays only.
The advertisers said that the deal advertised was only tentatively available between the 1st and 9th of July because of the uncertainty around the hotel’s re-opening date following government COVID-19 restrictions. They said that, at the time of their response, they had understood the hotel’s re-opening date would be July 20th. They explained that, when the complainant made her enquiry, she had asked whether the hotel would be open on July 3rd and whether the bar and restaurant would be open, along with entertainment facilities in Bundoran. The advertisers said that they had advised that they were waiting to hear new government and HSE guidelines and recommendations and were therefore unable to answer the queries fully.
The ASAI Executive asked the advertisers to confirm whether the deal would have been valid on the weekend, should they have been in a position to open the hotel and proceed with the deal as advertised.
The advertisers said it was never their intention to mislead anyone and reiterated that they could not offer the deal at any time between the 1st and 9th July as the spa offering was unavailable. They said that there was much uncertainty regarding opening dates and available services, and that packages and availability were ever-changing given the circumstances.
The ASAI Executive noted that the offer was promoted on the advertisers’ website and that it was available “Midweek Sunday to Thursday on Selected Dates”.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
They acknowledged the uncertainty that businesses encountered at the time of advertising as a result of changing circumstances due to COVID-19 restrictions and accepted the challenge this may have presented for the advertisers in determining when they might be able to resume operating as normal.
The Committee noted that confirmation had not been received on whether the offer was available on weekend dates, and that the information provided on the company website indicated that it was not. They considered that where offers were subject to restrictions such as this, they should be referenced in the advertising. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising had been in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form. The Complaints Committee advised the advertisers that, where offers were subject to restrictions, they should be referenced in any future advertising.