One of the more common reasons why people follow brands on social media is to get wind of discounts and promotions, and competition is fierce for winning the top-of-mind title for brands on Facebook and Twitter.

Brands that publish exclusive content and reward existing and potential fans for their likes and actions have a fighting chance to be considered for a visit to their website, a return visit or, best of all, a sale. Promotions take more resources — from creating micro-sites to publishing terms and conditions — but it can provide additional insights about consumers’ travel preferences. Both serve the purpose of meeting flyers and guests’ expectations about accessing deals or contests via social channels.

Skift partnered with Brandwatch, a social media listening and analytics firm that released Social Listening for the Travel and Hospitality Industry to take a closer look at promotions and contents from leading travel brands during 2014. The data analytics team at Brandwatch queried social media contests identified through SkiftIQ, a social media dashboard that tracks over 2,500 travel brands. The goal of this collaboration was to gather and analyze social data on the participants and conversations around these travel social media contests to pull insights and determine the efficacy of these types of contests.

The top travel brands across airlines, hotels, destinations, and media that were selected based on Skift Score and amount of interactions – hashtag usage and @mentions – include Atlantis Paradise Island, Lonely Planet, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt, and Matador Network. (Destinations did not leverage contests as much in 2014, in comparison to the other verticals).

When running contests on Facebook and Twitter, there were more barriers on the former. For example, since most profiles are private, Facebook fans who want to participate may opt-out faster. Also, search capabilities for hashtags on Facebook is poor, both because of Facebook’ search limitations and users aren’t as prone to use them here as they are on Twitter. On the other hand, when fans search for a hashtag entry on Twitter, it has a better view on how popular the contest is. More activity leads to higher potential for exposure and entries. Most of these contests were concurrently run on Instagram as well, however this story focuses on activity on Twitter.

Contest length varied from three days to a month. Atlantis added a sense of urgency to enter by making the entry period only two days, while Hyatt Place released announced a winner every hour for 200 hours. The approximate prize value ranged from $350 for one Matador U. writing course to $40,000 worth of vouchers in the amount of $200 each for a night’s stay at Hyatt Place.

Below are insights and takeaways about the five contests we monitored:

“Emblem3” – Atlantis – Paradise Island (February 12-14, 2014)
Atlantis Emblem3 contests’ performance engagement was due to the band’s following and grand prize of a trip for two for two nights to the resort to see the performance (with $500 in spending money), total value of $4,000. The chatter surrounding the contest was best described as “amazing” and a “dream.” To enter the contest, fans had to retweet tweets with #Emblem3Atlantis. This was a low-commitment approach to increase engagement and spread awareness on Twitter. “In just 48 hours, Atlantis gained over 2,000 new followers,” said Erin Nemeth, Public Relations at Atlantis, Paradise Island.

Contest History: Atlantis – Paradise Island (4,500+ mentions)

BrandWatch_Atlantis

“Best Place to Be Today” – Lonely Planet (September 7 – October 10, 2014)
The travel publisher rant a contest that encouraged users to share photos for a chance to win a $500 voucher for Viator and a copy of The Best Place to Be Today. Lonely Planet’s curated retweets about #bestplacetobetoday — a Taj Mahal photo got the most retweets — helped widen the reach of the hashtag and contest. As far as the fan behavior on Twitter, many users used “MT” (modified Tweets) when discussing the contest, which received nearly 1,000 mentions. “Viator Travel” was also one of the most mentioned topics (650+ mentions), followed by “chance to win” (350+ mentions).

Contest History: Lonely Planet (4,300+ mentions)

Brandwatch_LonelyPlanet

“Choose Your Hong Kong” – American Airlines (August 11-22, 2014)
Fans who followed and tweeted about the contest hashtag #chooseyourhongkong were eligible to win 220,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles, a total value worth more than $4,000. Friday, August 15 received the most mentions (800+) of the #ChooseYourHongKong hashtag, mostly due to a call to action from American Airlines reminding followers to not miss out on a chance to win two business class tickets to Hong Kong.

Contest History: American Airlines (2,700 mentions)

Brandwatch_AA

“LUV Look-a-likes” – Southwest Airlines (May 1-15, 2014)
Southwest Airlines held a contest during a period of celebrating moms and dads across the U.S. Two winners were drawn and each received $1,000 Southwest giftcard for the best parent/child look-a-like photos that they shared on Twitter (and Instagram) with hashtag #luvlookalikes. Due to the fact that the competition honored both parents, some of the most popular topics included mentions of family members: “Mom” (90+ mentions) was the most popular topic, followed by “daughter” (70+ mentions).

Contest History: Southwest Airlines (375 mentions)

Brandwatch_Southwest

“See It, Share It” – Hyatt Place (August 18-26, 2014)
Fans had to share photos of their Hyatt Place experiences on Twitter using #HyattPlace and #HPEntry. Using two hashtags likely negatively impacted the volume of entries, as it adds an extra step for fans to participate, and takes up valuable character real estate. Hyatt structured the contest to draw one winner every hour for 200 hours, and awarded 200 people one free night stay at Hyatt Place, total value $40,000. The conversations about this contest didn’t really take off but the brand’s Twitter account @HyattTweets got more play, due to the retweets from this account about the contest.

Contest History: Hyatt Place (400 mentions)

Brandwatch_Hyatt

“Travelstoke” – Matador Network (May 1 – June 30, 2014)
Storytelling is an important part of Matador’s business. It held a user-generated contest where fans shared photos on Twitter with hashtags #travelstoke to enter. Matador rewarded each entrant a $50 voucher for an online class and a chance to win a free course from Matador U, total value $400+ (depending on number of entries). For a majority of the competition there were spikes in activity, but most of it was during the end of the period (45+), due tweets that reminded people to enter the contest.

Contest History: Matador Network

Brandwatch_Matador

 

Photo Credit: Word cloud for top six travel contests in 2014 on Twitter. Brandwatch