Are LastMinuteTravel’s $1 room rates too good to be true?

A room at the InterContinental Tampa on Feb. 10 costs $278 a night. But Dave Willis got his free, thanks to’s The World for a Dollar offer. Sound too good to be true? It may be.

Willis is one of the fortunate few who snagged a zero-dollar rate. (“I got a confirmation email with a zero price,” he told me. “They said the bellhop could use the dollar more than they could.”)

He signed up for a “hint” email on Monday and happened to check the site yesterday night. With just five minutes left in a 15-minute window to book, he managed to score a zero-dollar room rate.

“Hope I don’t get a follow-up email saying there was an error,” he adds.

But at least one traveler thinks the promotion isn’t legit. Reader James Fischer decided to time’s window of opportunity.

I wrote a little program to track any changes to specific pages within the Web site, and found something very strange: The promotional periods were not 15 minutes long, but only 3 minutes at most.

Fischer didn’t believe it, so he repeated the test.

I found that the promotion periods were no more than 3 minutes. To make matters worse, one would be redirected to a flash “movie” to “explain” the promotion at every selection in the process, so one’s time was consistently chewed up, and it was impossible to complete a booking before the timer ran out.

Lauren Volcheff LastMinuteTravel’s director of marketing, insisted the offer is on the up-and-up.

Our intention from the start of this campaign has been to introduce travelers to the new, our variety of travel products and our great, low rates. Due to the expected demand and the opportunities presented by this sale, we have continually encouraged travelers to prepare in advance, which allows them to easily complete a booking within the sale session. In fact, many have already been successful – during the first three days of The World for $1 sale, 624 bookings have been made, sending 1,437 people on vacation.

I also want to provide you with some of the campaign’s specifics in order to clarify questions and dispel any rumors or myths.

The World for $1 sale occurs on each weekday (Jan 26 – Feb 6) for a total of 15 minutes daily, with a minimum of seven more opportunities to become involved from today forward. Specific start times vary day-to-day, and the 15-minute windows are divided into three or less sessions per day – each lasting for at least five minutes, for a total 15 minutes of sale time each day. During the sale, travelers automatically view a series of three tutorials, which total two minutes and 25 seconds when combined. Each short video explains how to ‘book smarter’ on the new and gives tips on using the Undercover hotel model.

On average, it should take 3 minutes to complete a reservation during this sale. For instance, on January 26, the sale’s launch day, the first session occurred in the morning during the ten o’clock hour, and again in the afternoon at the one o’clock hour. One session was seven minutes long, and the other was eight. During these two sessions alone, we had 112 people complete bookings in 62 destinations around the world – 65 percent of which were in high-end, luxury hotels.

It’s also important to note that while we have taken all of the necessary steps to support the enormous demand expected during this promotion, rooms may sell out during high-demand periods.

I’m withholding judgment on this offer. It may be gimmicky, it may have lots of fine print, and it may be difficult to claim a room.

But is it fraudulent? Let’s give LastMinuteTravel a few more days before reaching a verdict.

Update: Got another note from Willis …

Just got a call from a LastMinuteTravel rep, who wanted to confirm that I received my confirmation email (which I did) and congratulate me on my win. He explained cancellation terms, which are basically nonexistent, despite their boilerplate terms that impose a $25 penalty and full night/stay fee for cancellations for paid stays.

Also, he clarified that winners can’t get another $1/free stay during the campaign, even though the terms make it sound like it could be one win per week.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend