Lessons from a Travel Contest

First of all, a BIG thank you to everyone who voted and supported my team in the Ultimate Thailand Explorers travel contest’s Koh Samui category. We didn’t win. We came in second place losing to the first team by about 1,200 votes. But that’s alright. It was fun running for the contest and I’ve learnt quite a few things in the process.

The contest is somewhat similar to Queensland Tourism Board’s ‘Best Job in the World’. In the Thai version, applicants have to form a team of two, create a one-minute video about why they’re the best team to showcase a selected Thai destination and send it in. There’re five destinations to choose from – Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui.

From all the videos submitted worldwide for the different locations, the judges will choose five videos for each destination. The teams with the highest votes of each destination gets to go on an all expenses paid trip there for a week and share their experience via online media (Facebook, twitter, youtube, etc). My team, Darren & Jimmy, vied for Koh Samui.

When I knew we were shortlisted as one of the five teams to run for Koh Samui, I was in Chiang Mai. Needless to say, I was really excited but I was told that my team had the least votes. But when I returned to Singaopore the next day, my team was in the lead. We led for about four days before the New Zealand team in London overtook us. They had a news report in their home country asking their countrymen to support and vote for the team the day before.

Subsequently, they had another news report in Australia and that kept them in the lead. My team was trailing in 2nd place losing by an average of 300 votes. At one point, we even overtook them and got back to first place briefly.

I worked hard during the run and spent many hours on Facebook and msn approaching friends to vote, creating a fan page and posting contents to remind voters to vote daily. I even tried reaching out to the media to get coverage. Through my friend Jansen, who runs a PR agency, I got in touch with the producer for RazorTV. My team was also approached by a reporter from The New Paper (TNP), I approached a friend from Channel 8’s Good Morning Singapore (Zao An Ni Hao) and a friend even posted a news blitz on Stomp!. The result? None of the media was interested to run the story.

RazorTV told us they were preparing and thinking about an angle to feature my team and will get back to us. We never heard from them. Good Morning Singapore said their travel segment has already been filled to the end of the year, and TNP was not interested because they don’t want to be promoting the Thai Authority in Tourism (TAT). In other words, no free publicity if TAT is not buying publicity space. Stomp! didn’t publish my friend’s news blitz either. I tried approaching the media again on the angle of calling support for a local team. No response.

At the other side of the competition, the Filipino team got a number of news blitz calling Philippines to support their home team. Their team was in 3rd place all along (losing to my team by about 500 votes). After that online news article, their team caught up, replacing us in 2nd place. Then overnight, they were in 1st place. We were losing by about 300 votes.

Undeterred, I continued to post shoutouts to the 5,000 in my Facebook friends list and urged the over 1,000 members in our fan page to vote. I believe there were some serious efforts by voters, some of them creating multiple accounts to vote, but alas, my team never caught up with the pinoys.

So I’ve learnt this… When approaching Singapore media, link them up with a cheque book. And there’s no need to accept every friend request on Facebook if they’re not friends because many just want to see your profile and push for you to satisfy their objective, or just for viewing pleasure.

Regardless of the setbacks, I had fun with the competition and here’s something my team created to document the ‘hardships’ that teams in the contest went through to procure votes…

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. papababa
    Nov 21, 2009 @ 17:20:02

    yep, that’s the modus operandi of our local media unfortunately. a pity just added u recently, if not u’ll have my votes..cute video there..tickles me..ha..

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Nov 22, 2009 @ 01:33:19

      heh heh… no prob :o) thanks for the thought :o)

      Reply

      • yutaka2k
        Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:54:58

        Kudos!!
        In Life & In my heart, you are a winner Darren! To be able to pen something to insightful, yet ending it with a positive note… that’s life isn’t it?!
        Don’t need TAT. Let’s go Koh Samui ourselves! hehehe…

      • celebratelah
        Dec 30, 2009 @ 19:45:23

        Re: Kudos!!
        aww… i haven’t checked my lj in ages! thanks for ur support chris :o) u have this amazing ability to see what a person needs and provide that :o) hugs…
        though we don’t really hang out as much as i would love to, i look forward to ur return to sg :o)

      • celebratelah
        Dec 30, 2009 @ 19:45:23

        Re: Kudos!!
        aww… i haven’t checked my lj in ages! thanks for ur support chris :o) u have this amazing ability to see what a person needs and provide that :o) hugs…
        though we don’t really hang out as much as i would love to, i look forward to ur return to sg :o)

      • yutaka2k
        Nov 24, 2009 @ 14:54:58

        Kudos!!
        In Life & In my heart, you are a winner Darren! To be able to pen something to insightful, yet ending it with a positive note… that’s life isn’t it?!
        Don’t need TAT. Let’s go Koh Samui ourselves! hehehe…

    • celebratelah
      Nov 22, 2009 @ 01:33:19

      heh heh… no prob :o) thanks for the thought :o)

      Reply

  2. papababa
    Nov 21, 2009 @ 17:20:02

    yep, that’s the modus operandi of our local media unfortunately. a pity just added u recently, if not u’ll have my votes..cute video there..tickles me..ha..

    Reply

  3. Anonymous
    Nov 28, 2009 @ 16:48:09

    U are a winner
    Time passed… and I am so proud of u really… your will and determination to go all out to win the contest… and yes, I know u are a busy guy…
    More importantly, you didn’t take the outcome with stride and enjoyed the process so much… u have lost nothing but gained so much…
    U are my winner…
    Cheers,
    Tiong Ann

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Dec 30, 2009 @ 19:47:15

      Re: U are a winner
      hey tiong ann… just saw the post here and thanks for the encouraging words :o) yeah… let’s just enjoy the journey, do our bit to paddle, but go with the flow of the outcome :o)
      have a great 2010 ahead! :o)

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Dec 30, 2009 @ 19:47:15

      Re: U are a winner
      hey tiong ann… just saw the post here and thanks for the encouraging words :o) yeah… let’s just enjoy the journey, do our bit to paddle, but go with the flow of the outcome :o)
      have a great 2010 ahead! :o)

      Reply

  4. Anonymous
    Nov 28, 2009 @ 16:48:09

    U are a winner
    Time passed… and I am so proud of u really… your will and determination to go all out to win the contest… and yes, I know u are a busy guy…
    More importantly, you didn’t take the outcome with stride and enjoyed the process so much… u have lost nothing but gained so much…
    U are my winner…
    Cheers,
    Tiong Ann

    Reply

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