I have been fortunate to win some contest prizes—trips, travel prizes, and two cars (yes, two cars!). People say I am so lucky. When I ask if they enter contests, the most common response is, “No, I will never win.”
Cannot argue with that logic. If you do not enter contests, you will never win.
Wayne Gretzky, The Great One, said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Another favorite quote is from George Bernard Shaw: “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
By no means am I a contest expert but here are some of my contest tips, with a particular focus on increasing your odds to win travel contests.
1. Enter a contest to have a chance to win
Do you see “Win a trip to Hawaii” and pass over it, thinking you will never win? Well, change that thinking. An obvious statement perhaps, but I must restate it. In order to win a trip contest—or any contest—you must actually enter the contest. The more contests you enter, the better chance you have of winning. Capisce?
2. Difference Between Contest and Sweepstakes
A sweepstakes selects a random winner. A contest requires some skill. A true contest may require you to answer a question about the sponsor’s business or something about the prize, play a skill game (which might just be clicking a spin button), etc.
Although most of the east entry contests are actually sweepstakes, for the sake of convenience, in this article I call both “contests.”
3. Focus on single entry contests
Contests (and sweeps) may let you enter daily, weekly, one time, unlimited times. I am not a serial contest enter-er. If a daily entry contest has an attractive prize—like 1,000,000 frequent flyer points or a Super Bowl trip—I might enter a few times. Otherwise, I stick to “enter one time” contests.
4. Better chances to win local contests and blogs
5. Do not ignore large contests
I was amazed to win a trip to Hawaii in a Facebook contest, a free Caribbean resort stay and other prizes on Instagram, and a $500 travel voucher in a major Twitter chat. Yes, you can win Twitter contests. Details in Finding Travel Deals in Twitter Chats.
6. Read Contest Rules
I won that second car by mailing in a postcard (remember them?) for a second chance opportunity. Yes, I was extraordinarily lucky. Also, hundreds of thousands of people could have qualified by doing the same thing and not chucking that piece of mail.
7. Find central contest listings
Sure, you can type “travel contests” into Google and find some on your own. Instead of scouring the Internet for travel contests, I click on the contest links in JohnnyJet’s weekly newsletter. Countless other websites list contests and sweeps so find the best source for you.
8. Negotiate contest prize values
When you win a prize—I know you will!—determine if the listed value is overinflated. I won a travel contest with a two night resort stay (with dinner) valued at $1,300. When I ready to make a reservation, the daily room rates were around $100, with the most expensive room at $249. I thanked the prize sponsor but said that my tax liability was more than the prize value. I was ready to decline the prize. Instead the prize sponsor revalued the prize at $700 and reserved a phenomenal suite for me.
Feeling lucky? Perhaps these contest tips help inspire you to enter a few extra contests. If you win, let me know.
By the way, about those two cars.
One was a “classic car” from a national contest. Basically, it was a junker car with a fancy paint job. I had to desludge the engine the day after I took ownership. Of course, it was a great car but by no means a new car or restored one.
The second car was a base model car with no extras. I applied the contest value to the value of a new car. Yes, it was free money and I was fortunate to win.
Both were fun cars for scenic drives.
No, I have not won MegaMillions or Powerball but perhaps it is time to win another car; it has been about 10 years.
Have you won any contests (or sweepstakes)? Do you have any other contest tips?