Free travel promotions blown away after Hoover

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SPECIAL promotions worth millions of pounds involving giveaway air and cross- Channel ferry tickets have been scrapped in the aftermath of the Hoover free- flights fiasco, writes Russell Hotten.

British Airways and P&O are among travel companies bracing themselves for a downturn following the scandal.

Marketing consultants are telling their clients to steer clear of schemes linking a purchase of goods beyond a certain value with the offer of free travel. Such promotions, they maintain, have become tainted by revelations that Hoover could not meet its promise of free flights to the US and Europe.

For the recession-hit travel trade, deals with newspapers and retailers have proved a godsend during the recession, helping them to fill spare capacity.

The vast majority of schemes have proved successful, but John Hooper, chairman of the Sales Promotion Consultants' Association, said he feared all travel offers would be tarred by the Hoover brush.

'I would not be recommending that any client of mine took out a holiday promotion for six months, or even longer. The trouble with Hoover is it will run and run, and stick in people's minds.' He said one large retailer had already decided to rule out an air tickets promotion.

Mark Souhami, deputy chairman of electrical retailer Dixons, said his company would be 'back-playing' flights offers. 'Promotions like these will be viewed with suspicion,' he said.

Brian Langford, marketing director at P&O European Ferries, said companies would take a second look at such promotions. 'And in the short term, it will probably make the consumer very cautious.'

Sucker punch to promotions, page 4