Priceline’s Sunshine Guarantee is Unique but That May Not be Enough

I rarely write about hotels or vacation packages, but a recent press release from Priceline touting their Sunshine Guarantee caught my eye. 08_06_04 sunshine guaranteeAt first, it seems great for a traveler. The brief explanation says “Book your summer vacation today and automatically receive this exclusive guarantee. If your vacation is rained out, your priceline vacation is free.”

Yeah, sounds great, right? But when you dig in, there are some pretty onerous conditions here. It can still be good, but if it causes confusion, it might end up angering more people than it helps. The biggest problem? It has to rain for at least half of the days on your vacation, and it has to rain 1/2 an inch each day. Wow, that’s a lot of rain. And a quick two day weekend package that gets one day of rain won’t work either. It has to be between 3 and 8 days.

Let’s say you decide to try for the free vacation and you fly to Maui and stay on the rainy side, you know, near Hana. Uh, no. The rain is measured at the airport, so that won’t really help. And besides, it’s only good July 1 through September 7 and that’s not exactly the rainy season over there (though it’s always rainy I suppose).

So is there much value here? Well yeah, there can be some. If you happen to get stuck in a slow moving hurricane, then it’s a good deal. But most other rain events might have you out of luck.

It’s funny that I bring up all these caveats. I mean, there was absolutely nothing there before this guarantee, so it’s all gravy. According to their 8K, Priceline is paying a flat fee to a company to use this service, and that company, WeatherBill, will pay out the claims. So it’s really just a good marketing campaign. But, if people misinterpret the campaign, then it could potentially backfire. If you have a weeklong trip that gets more than a half inch of rain for each of 3 days and then, say, 1/4 of a inch per day for the rest of the time, you won’t be able to collect. So, keep that in mind when you book. Don’t get your hopes up for a free vacation, but realize that if it’s truly a soaking experience, you won’t have to pay.

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