Launching an Online Sweepstakes to Drive Engagement for USTOA

The pandemic held tour industry operations and international travel hostage long after many other travel segments had restarted.  By late Jan 2021, global vaccine rollout plans were emerging, and the tour industry needed something positive to promote despite tours still being on pause.

To meet this need, we created the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) Bucket List Travel Bracket Sweepstakes, a March Madness style competition in which destinations/tour experiences competed in multiple rounds of online voting match-ups.  Shared solely through social media directing voters to a landing page, the sweepstakes encouraged consumers to vote with each new match-up, ultimately resulting in a destination final champion.  After voting closed, a random sweepstakes winner was awarded a $10K travel stipend to use with a USTOA member tour operator to the champion destination, which was subsequently announced.

In just 30 days, we got this entire sweepstakes ready to launch, including:

  • Internal membership campaign to secure destination and tour operator sponsors/experience entries.
  • Formalized legal sweepstakes rules.
  • Massive coordination with all 37 sponsors: confirm their entries, secure proper logos/links/visual assets need for landing page and socials, communicate rules and share social post templates/suggestions, etc.
  • Creation of all sweepstakes digital assets: landing page, graphics, banners, match-up templates, asset library, etc.
  • Identify and orchestrate appropriate sweepstakes management program.
  • Craft other announcement materials – blog post for USTOA website, email blast for USTOA database, and press release – to launch the sweepstakes.

The sweepstakes launched on 3/11/21.  New brackets with match-ups for voting were posted every Monday and Thursday in March.  The championship matchup went live on 3/29, with the voting ending 3/31 and the sweepstakes winner announced on 4/1.  The winning destination travel experience was announced on 4/5.

The results exceeded expectations despite an extremely tight budget.  Appetite for this sweepstakes among USTOA members was bigger than we hoped.  37 destinations signed on as sponsors to submit entries, and their pairings with tour operator members resulted in 64 travel experiences being entered for the matchups.

See the highlights reel, which includes results stats like 33,000 entries, nearly 40 million media impressions, social reach of 25+ million through USTOA member posts alone, 65% consumer database growth, and more.