One Friday this June I participated in a contest hosted by Travelzoo on Twitter. Our job as contestants was to come-up with a catchy caption to describe a photo. The winner was promised a prize. The photo happened to be a series of 4 or 5 drinks on a serving table. I studied the photo meticulously, hoping that a theme would emerge thus leading me to a rich response and assured victory. Noticing that all the drinks possessed fruit in some capacity or another, an idea emerged. With a soft-chuckle and swift manipulation of the keyboard, I entered the caption “Got that Friday Fruity Feelin!” Immediately an aura of confidence in winning overcame me, re-affirmed more strongly as my fellow competitors’ responses took shape. Soon thereafter the Travelzoo moderator stated that a winner would be chosen on Monday. “Wow, a whole weekend to wait before the winner is announced”, I thought. Quickly I forgot about the endeavor as gratification was being delayed for at least a few days.
Having forgotten totally about the contest over the weekend, you can imagine my shock when I saw my twitter handle posted as the winner of the Friday picture-caption contest. I couldn’t believe it. I never win contests, let alone social media ones. The message requested that I send an email to the moderator at Travelzoo. I did so almost immediately, checking and rechecking the email address to make sure my acceptance of victory ended up in the right hands. After clicking send I must have refreshed my yahoo inbox 50 times or so the rest of the afternoon but nothing came. As a matter of fact nothing came that day nor the next, which prompted concern on my part that some how the email never made it, like it had been kidnapped by a band of internet pirates. On Wednesday I began debating on when to follow-up with the moderator about the status of my prize. Then shortly before noon I was contacted. The moderator asked for my address to send the prize. I responded rapidly with my mailing address and began waiting in great anticipation for my prize.
A week or so went by when my doorbell rang and a FedEx package placed at my doorstop. The size of the box surprised me, knowing that I was to receive Travelzoo Local Deals gift cards per my email conversation with the contest moderator. During the time between the conversation with the moderator and the delivery of the package, I filled my head with thoughts about the gift certificates. I imagined two $25 gift certificates being sent, in which I could amply apply them to a couple of fun meals at trendy Denver restaurants with my wife. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found an umbrella, pen, and five $5 gift cards inside. After getting over my initial disappointment, I tried to see if I could combine the cards for one Travelzoo Local Deal. No such luck, as each deal would only accept one gift card code.
I feel a little weird complaining about the prize from a twitter contest. After all it cost me nothing but a few moments of my time. I even enjoyed coming up with the silly caption. I guess I just believe that if a company is going to offer a prize for a contest it should actually be worth winning. Travelzoo can take a page out of the book of other online travel companies the likes of Expedia an Orbitz who offer free round trip tickets and travel vouchers of value in the hundreds of dollars. I continue to support Travelzoo for the quality of travel products they promote. It’s just that I will take a long look before investing time and energy into one of their online contests again.