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May 12, 2010

Comments

Ted

Your definitely have a clever and creative idea, but I'm not sure it would be a useful way to promote solo travel. The contest judges would most likely disqualify the "perfect day alone" essays. And even if one of them somehow won, the winner would be stuck with a uniquely perverse single supplement. The prize is a trip for two, which is what would be awarded even if only one person used it. So a single winner would owe income tax on the full value of that prize, including the unused companion's airfare, the double room, and possibly meals for two.

I couldn't look at the actual contest, since your link to it actually goes to the Travel Sweeps blog. But based on your summary, I wouldn't criticize the promoter at all for offering a trip "for you and a partner" as the prize. The overwhelming majority of people who would visit a Caribbean resort would surely do so with their "significant other" or their family. So a trip for one would be more of a joke than a valuable promotional incentive. And a trip for one specifically promoted to solo travelers (which I think is what you're really after) would probably attract too small an audience to be considered a worthwhile promotion.

That said, solo travelers are a market that a creative executive could tap profitably. I would well imagine someone developing a women-only resort in the Caribbean that includes reasonably-priced packages for one, along with double-occupancy girlfriend getaways. Then it would make perfect sense to have a contest that includes a trip for one as a prize, most likely with a parallel contest offering a girlfriend getaway for two.

An approach I have occasionally found useful is to contact promoters and tourist boards whose materials ignore or slight solo travelers. I'm usually ignored, but a few years ago I got a brochure from the Maui visitor's bureau, in preparation for a solo trip there. The brochure was divided between activities for couples and activities for families, and included a letter from the president of the bureau specifically welcoming couples and families to Maui. So I wrote to this president, expressing my concern that I might not be welcome there as a solo traveler, and mentioning that my previous trips to the island were either solo or with a friend who was neither my relative nor my "partner."

The e-mailed reply (directly from the president) was profusely apologetic. She admitted that she and her staff had never even thought about visitors who weren't couples or families, thanked me for making her aware of visitors they had been unintentionally ignoring, and promised to make the next edition more inclusive. I never followed up to see whether they actually changed the next edition, but it seemed a small victory to receive that reply.

I think making the appropriate executives and officials aware that solo travelers are a market worth pursuing would be a more productive way to promote solo travel than to game a contest.

Ellen

I think you might have missed the point Ted. The point is not necessarily to win the contest or worry about judges not awarding a trip to a solo traveler. (Not that I think there's an objective panel of judges - this is all for PR and getting facebook signups.)

Writing about solo travel to a resort is about educating the tourist industry. Telling them we exist. That's all. Since it's only 100 words, not too tough to have your say.

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