I Just Clicked on a Bad PPC Ad

Hawaii - Oahu

This beach is calling my name.

The time was finally here: vacation planning. I rode my bike to my favorite coffee shop near RiNo, ordered a delectable cappuccino, and opened my laptop. Hawaii was next on the bucket list. Friendly beginner-size waves for a novice surfer, lush forest in the high country, and fresh island fruit. Count me in! Expensive—I know—but I viewed the trip as an investment in my water sports prowess. Besides, I’d use my accumulation of credit card points to purchase the flight. The largest sum would undoubtedly be the overnight stay.

I entered “cheap hotels in Hawaii” into my Google search.

Holy cow! More than 23 million results popped up. How on earth am I going to decide where to stay? And my flight is in two weeks. The first listing celebrated itself with an exclamation mark:

Lowest Price Guarantee! Book a Cheap Hotel in Hawaii online.

Yes, that’s for me! I was immediately stoked. I’d found the best offer in a mere 60 seconds. I clicked the link and arrived at the search engine’s home page. After typing in my preferences—check-in, check-out dates, number, of adults and children, etc.—the search algorithm did its thing.

…Yikes. More than 2,000 properties popped. Will I ever get to the bottom of these options?! I bookmarked the top three lowest priced hotels, I had faith that this travel site would deliver its word—the lowest prices—but the smallest sliver of uncertainty made me curious. I needed to be certain that this website was truly fulfilling its claim. I hit the back button to pursue the second option on the search list.

WHAT? The first hotel listed was cheaper than the other three I’d found through the first travel site! My cheeks began to burn a fire red. It couldn’t be true—I’d been fooled. I took a deep breath. Okay, I thought, there must be a systematic error, or I wrote down the prices wrong. I’ll go back and try again. I returned to the first booking site, entered all of my information and—bam. The search results were still all steeper priced than the opponent.

Dear. Me. Oh. My. My gut ached: how could I have been so stupid to believe the listing’s banner in the first place? There’s no way that searching for the cheapest hotel option could be that easy. My head pounded at the thought of endless anxiety-ridden hours of hotel hunting. My heart sunk and shoulders began to droop over the keyboard.

I sipped my Cappuccino and wished I’d ordered a double. A boatload of caffeine may come in handy at this point. I finally looked at my watch. 9:05 a.m. Whoa! Only five minutes had passed since I’d taken a seat. Maybe I could find a cheap option by 12/noon after all! I’ll just be more protective of my heart this time around. Those ads can’t fool me.

-Morgan, Hawaiian Hopeful

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