I won a free night award for a Category 1–5 hotel property as an instant winner of a promotion from the Starwood Preferred Guest frequent guest loyalty program celebrating Design Hotels becoming the newest brand of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Incorporated; and I had to use the award by Thursday, March 31, 2016 but was unable to do so…
…so I thought I would give it away despite having only one week left to use it — but I wanted to give it away in the fairest way possible; so I decided to use random.org and its random numbering system to choose the winner of this contest.
“Thanks so much for your e-mail!” was the response by him to the announcement I sent to him via e-mail message that he won the prize. “I’m very sorry for the trouble, but my travel plans shifted by a day from when I entered the drawing, so I will be unable to use it — please pass it on to someone else who can make good use of it.”
I can understand and empathize. The schedules of frequent fliers seem to constantly change — yours truly is no exception — and I appreciated his quick response.
“I’m a big fan of The Gate, and I look forward to continuing to read your articles! Again, I apologize for having to cancel.”
No problem at all, Bernard Binder. I personally appreciate you being a reader; and thank you so much.
I then had to find another winner; and the reader who successfully responded is traveling in southeastern Asia during the next week. The time difference of eleven hours was particularly daunting on a prize which was rapidly becoming perishable.
“Thank you” was comment number 94 posted by Andrew at 8:56 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, March 25, 2016; and he is the official winner of this contest.
“I am a regular reader of your blog,” wrote Andrew, who will be staying at what he calls his favorite hotel: Le Méridien Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have never been to that hotel property — but it sure looks enticing enough that I would certainly want to consider staying there at some point in the future.
Thank you for reading The Gate, Andrew. Congratulations! Enjoy your prize — and travel safely.
Despite having written articles for The Gate as one of its original authors for almost ten years, I never personally gave away any prizes; so this was a new experience for me. Sure, I have written articles which announced other entities giving away prizes in contests and sweepstakes over the years — and The Gate even participated in a major contest which is no longer active back on Sunday,
…but I had thought about it many times over the years. Last year — at a gathering prior to the pulling of an airplane of Delta Air Lines for charity — some fellow “bloggers” had picked up a few trinkets which they were planning to give away to their readers. When I asked them about whether or not I should consider giving away prizes, they neither endorsed the idea nor rejected it, as there is quite a bit of work to be done behind the scenes both before and after the prize is offered; readership does not necessarily increase as a result; and rules do have to be put in place to ensure fairness to all.
Regardless of using a random method of choosing a winner, I have read all of the comments. Reader Darlenwrote “I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My son and I are going to Dallas next week so he can play in a junior golf tournament and that would help with his expenses!!!” Reader Elizabeth Haglundposted that she “Would love an anniversary present of a one night stay for me and my husband this weekend. Exciting.” Reader Susie Callahancommented that “My 82 year old Mom is arriving on Easter Sunday for a week’s stay with us. Wouldn’t it be lovely to surprise her with an overnight getaway if I win?!. Thank you for the opportunity!”
There were numerous other comments pertaining to other reasons for wanting the free night at a hotel — such as surprises, “staycations” and moving as three of the many reasons — as well as thanking me for this potential opportunity. As a result of reading all of the comments, I kept thinking to myself that I wished I could give everyone a free night and that I was glad I did not choose a winner based on how I felt. That would have been excruciatingly difficult.
By the way, I received no sponsorship for this contest; nor have any of the selected winners been coerced in any way to promote The Gate. All I did was ask them if there was anything they would like for me to quote them in this article. How they responded was purely voluntary on their parts.
There will possibly be other contests in the future — for example, I have a quirky prize for those of you who enjoy the articles of a certain reporter for the Associated Press and with his consent; but I am trying to think of an article which would be a good fit for that prize — but I have always believed that interesting and informative articles are first and foremost for readership; and I will continue to strive to meet the expectations of readers with that priority in mind.
Thank you for participating in the contest — but more importantly, thank you so much for reading The Gate.