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How fair are promotional contests?

In the last few months I have seen several travel related promotional contests happening; for many international destinations by different tourism boards and airlines.
The result for one of them was announced on January 10th, 2014. They were to announce two lucky winners and they did so. I did not participate so came to know of it only yesterday night. Thanks to my fellow readers who participated.

Kaas flowers

Who would not want to be a winner?

I am told, there were more than 48,000 people who participated and played the game as per the rules. Call it lack of transparency … If you read T&C on their Facebook page where the contest was being held, it is NOT clear how the winners will be chosen.
But if you go through the queries in comments section and the organizers’ response to these comments, the participants were given the impression by the organizers that more they play & comment, the more they have chances for a win. So some played more than 250 times giving all correct answers to increase their chances.

After the results are announced, there is a furore amongst the participants..
Two ‘famous’ travel bloggers are selected as winners.

That brings us to the question of this post!

How fair are these promotional contests?

On asking about the method of selection of the winners, the organizers said they “drew lots” which itself is questionable since it is NOT mentioned anywhere that they will draw lots to select the winners.

Now comes the best part!
Any sane person can see the probability of getting the combination of only these two bloggers as winners out of around 50K+ people in a draw of lots is VERY VERY rare! Nearly impossible.

Frankly, it looks FIXED.

Oh wait! Why am I raising this issue when I haven’t even participated? I could’ve have kept mum diplomatically (Since I know these two bloggers personally).

I am totally against any backdoor entry or climbing the ladder with contacts or by any other such method.

I am a travel blogger myself and I also get invited by different tourism boards & airlines.
Very frequently.
I declare about it at the beginning of my trips. I believe in doing my work honestly & professionally and till date it has paid me well. I am of the opinion that if I am good enough, they’ll invite me to work with them.

Dear contest holding Organization, it is okay to have business deals with bloggers but come out openly. You are anyway sponsoring the trip for them, why not invite them directly in a FAM trip? Why do you fool thousands of others who participate diligently, by faking a contest and declaring winners of your choice.

It’s a FRAUD!

And dear bloggers, we all know this can not happen unless both sides are party to it. So, stop faking your ‘win’ by saying you “participated and won the contests”. The real participants never saw you both playing or commenting at the battlefield even once! And one of you announced your ‘win’ 4 hours before the win was officially announced by the organizers themselves! Atrocious!
This is not the first time I have seen bloggers indulging in these activities.

Note- I have questioned the authorities and so did the actual participants. Let us hope they respond soon and honestly. This is their Facebook page and the T&C of the contest.

Update as on Jan 17th- A person from the tourism dept of the host country called and admitted that there was a mistake. So did the organizers. But since the earlier ‘winners (travel bloggers)’ had already announced their ‘win’ on social media, it was not possible for anyone to go back. So the organizers offered one more draw of lots (they prefer to call it bonus draw) with a third party tool which took place yesterday. They chose one more winner and unlike the earlier ‘draw’ this time the result of lucky draw was transparent to all.

My heartiest congratulations to the REAL winner Mr. Digant Gandhi. The organizers have been requested to put his photo along with the other two ‘winners’ but it seems while they had bloggers’ photos ready with them, they don’t have the actual winner’s. That also shows the planning & conspiracy behind this cheating.

Update as on Feb 16th- This is Feb 16th, 2014. Even after a month the organizers have failed to put a photo of the REAL winner on their page while the two fake winners are off to Australia!!

Update:- The organizing PR company has been fired by the tourism board. 😀

If you want to travel places with me, I suggest you to join me on my Facebook travel page and Twitter.
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38 thoughts on “How fair are promotional contests?”

  1. OMG! Thats a BIG FRAUD!

    How can such a big organization do that? the participants should take a legal action against them.

    you are right, the bloggers are also involved.

  2. There are so many promotional contests happening and so many of my friends participate I do not know whether they win or not. they write pages and pages and I just comment on them wishing them well.

  3. Only some time back I have started participating in blogging contests and am already wondering why I do this ? A recent contest I participated I won a 1000 INR voucher, the first prize winner got a Jazzy Smart phone.

    I visited the site of the winner and found- a total 3 posts were ever written before or after the contest….and two of them were winners in the same contest to get the phone ;)…. daal main kala ya Kalee dal ? Must be a record you write 3 posts in the history of your blog and 2 of them win….. 🙂

  4. Ah, I know what you are talking about. I’ve noticed this on a prominent blogging network also, that the winners are often the same bunch of people on rotation. I’ve decided not to participate in contests anymore; it’s not worth the time and effort.

  5. Now I know why I don’t win these contest. But I will have to admit I did win one this summer. I won a hat,a cooler bag and a calender for 2014.

  6. Very well written!!!

    Want to add some of my views here:

    Starting from, Who would not want to be a winner???? Very good question, everyone wants to be coz “Joh Jeeta Wahi Sikander”. But what i think is that for being a winner, never ever go against your ethics and morals. Either you will win(Then it’s great) and if you loose even that’s doesn’t matter, if you have played it with dignity and honest fully.

    I am very much agree with your point, that if organizers have to do the business deals with bloggers then they have to do it openly. Why they played with emotions & sentiments of honest participants?????? let me tell you the reason coz on social media they need followers/likes what they are getting by luring honest participants with these contests and by making fool of them. These honest participants follow them, refreshing their page every second, commenting on post and blah blah blah! And once these organizers achieves their target, then these participants are nothing for them. And they given the prize with whom they already had signed the deal.

    Whenever we are opening news channels the word which we heard most of the times is Corruption, corrupted politicians, corrupted Govt. Employee etc. etc. but now it is much more wider even people are doing corruption to win the contest or organizers do the same for business profit. It is everywhere and to being a mook personality will never help us. So be a whistle-blower and it is your right to fight against any misconduct, illegal or dishonest activity if going around you.

    Thanks Nisha for such an excellent blog. Wish you a blessed year ahead!!!!!

  7. Shreya,
    It is a two way process.
    There are certain bloggers who can do anything to be on top or in limelight. They try to use all methods even if means stepping on somebody else.

    I’ve updated the post. Please read to know what happened ultimately. 🙂

  8. Shashi,
    My whole hearted sympathies with you. The organizers should think of participants’ emotions and feelings also.
    I’ve updated the post. Please read to know what happened ultimately.

  9. Interesting. I as unaware of this development and after reading the post digged around to figure out the details.

    Most of the contests involve participants wasting their time and resource giving free publicity to the organizer, in the hope of some big gift that never comes.

    If I don’t see a reasonable chance of winning, I usually avoid participating in such contests

  10. Prasad,
    Ha Ha so you cleared all your doubts. 🙂

    There are certain bloggers who’d engage in these kind of activities. And sad part is, I know some of them personally. I can’t change them so try to maintain the distance.

  11. A.H.,
    That blogging network is Indiblogger, isn’t it? Don’t be afraid in taking names here. It’s my site. 🙂

    Same thing happens with tourism boards also with another set of bloggers. 🙂 I don’t know when PR people grow up to identify the real talent.

  12. Barry,
    Oh Congratulations! I have also won smaller prizes like a camera or some other goodies. But these are bigger scams which materializes only when both the parties want to do it.

  13. i always thought why the winner are the blogger who shared more about the contest in social media . in blogger meetup also the same person gets prizes who are close to organizer.i have also mailed to contest organizer about the social begging done by blogger . for airline contest link shared in facebook i report the post as spam .

  14. Samaresh,
    It’s great that you shared & mailed the organizers about the whole fraud.

    I do not understand why a blogger is so shameless & impatient to make it as if s/he deserves all the accolades and is above the rest?
    It’s not just two of these ‘popular’ bloggers, there are many more who resort to other means for being on top.

  15. Well, this is just ridiculous, such contests, I will say !! There are many such around us in the eve of events, participation, votes or what not !! One must understand before participating the value of their time and effort which is being put into and the actual possibility of fair deal/game. It is not just the organisers of such events that need to be blamed but the participants too who gets fooled so easily without measuring out any credibility of their work, time and effort spent. I am always against the concept of luring or forcing your own follower-ship for something deliberately which does not add value for them and just for us as bloggers !! Though we can talk about long hours over such things but we as bloggers should also understand such tactics and play accordingly. Unless it adds value first to my effort, then somehow to my reader base and then finally benefit the organizer… I usually stay away from every single such thing !! A fully Sponsored trip to a place will obviously help you get the finances, your reader base will get the value in terms of knowledge you will post once you return and whatever you do over the trip and after that, your organiser will benefit from it. Makes total sense as it is a win win for all parties in question… That’s how it shall be. But, that’s just my personal opinion and even for the last fact it is that personally, I have turned down about 15 odd trips, 5 onsite visits over last year or so just to pursue my love for Himalayan Travel and that’s how enjoy. Other than that I am not over committing anything to maintain a balance. It is important for both parties (bloggers as well as organizers) to respect each others effort and time being spent.

  16. Mariellen,
    Sponsoring travel bloggers to a FAM trip is one thing & doing the same with a fraudulent contest is another. And both sides are party to it.

    I raised this question thru this post & the organizers admitted the mistake.
    Do read the latest updates on this post.

  17. Shrinidhi,
    What has appalled me that these bloggers are so called among the ‘top’ bloggers of India, (though that ‘top’ itself is a topic for debate) & they like to climb the ladder of fame & success thru back door entry.

    Also, this is not the first time it has happened. Do you think people believe their success stories?

  18. Dear Nisha,

    This is a very well written article, you are absolute correct in your observation about the said contest.
    it happens with many other contests as well where there are some hackers or people who have IT knowledge who can play with the scores…
    and then they are declared the winners .

    i had been participating in many contest via different modes.
    i had been lucky as well winning some big and some small prizes.

    but i give you the credit of writing this article and reaching out to people and participants like me who are not a blogger but just play contests as a passion or hobby or for the lust of winning.

    thank you 🙂

    1. Charandeep,
      It is readers like you who inspire me to be truthful to what I do and show in this blogging life.

      Unless I am honest in my doings, how can I move forward and how can I win trust of people?

      Thanks for your kind words. Keep enlightening me of such cases.

  19. I have never participated in any contests. I’m not sure how the winners are nominated, because when I read the winning blog posts, I’m distinctly underwhelmed.

    You seem to have hit the right buttons!

  20. I remember this fraud. we had participated in this and they cheated on us.

    I hate those two bloggers. unka zameer nahi hai? What happened to their conscience?

    It is like more than a year and I still feel the pain of being cheated.

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