Tweet Your Way to a Hawaiian Vacation.

Tweet Yourself to Hawaii Sweepstakes

My first job outside of college was working in one of Hawaii’s largest and most experienced interactive agencies – StarrTech Interactive. Since that time several years ago, I have seen the company produce such outstanding work and they always seem to surprise me with their creative, technical and marketing prowess. This recent example is nothing different, and it shows that they have some real “outside the box” thinking.

Hawaii is well known for its tourism and since it’s the number one industry, a lot of businesses rely on bringing in visitors to help the economy. Everyone knows that. So with people electing to save their money and choose “staycations”, destinations and travel properties need to be more creative in how they lure consumers. One of the old tried & true methods is through a sweepstakes or contest. This is exactly what my former colleagues at StarrTech Interactive have done.

Their client, Marriott Resorts Hawaii, has decided to throw some enticement out into the world and is banking on social media to generate some good business for it. If anything, I think it’s probably raised their brand awareness online at least a bit. Basically the consumer is the winner in all of this. Marriott Resorts Hawaii realizes that the viral approach in social media will help generate more buzz and increase the chances of more participants (and maybe even a larger email database to which they can solicit a future sale from). Not only is there a pretty “interactive” website which appears to have a similar behavior as the “Blame Drew’s Cancer” website where tweets tagged a certain way apparently appear on the site, but Marriott also allows you to enter into the contest using your Twitter handle (verified through the OAuth protocols) and even Facebook Connect.

If you enter in your Twitter handle, you are prompted to also provide your password and are assured that the information will not be stored. What purpose does it serve? To enter using the Twitter method, the quid pro quo here is that a message will be sent via your Twitter account saying that you’ve entered this account and provides a link that others can click on to further propagate this sweepstakes:

Hoping I’m one of the 25 lucky people @marriotthawaii sends to Hawaii! http://marriotthawaiitweets.com #tweet2hawaii

The next option you have to enter is via Facebook Connect or simply through just entering your name and email address – so it seems like you have three chances to enter and the winners are selected three days out of the week. That’s three winners a week until October 23!

Let’s not kid ourselves, however, that this is a perfect solution that will be a big success. It will, but I’ve noticed some kinks in the system that pretty much drove me bonkers – perhaps because of the API connection? When I first registered my information, I chose to use my Twitter account. After doing so, I clicked on the call-to-action button (submit) and nothing happened. I clicked again and nothing happened. The browser wasn’t even displaying anything that would denote some action was taking place. After a few minutes, a new screen appeared without warning and I had a hard time going through that process to fill out the information. This also happened when I tried to submit my entry using Facebook Connect – the pop-up window simply froze. Without these fancy integrations, it’s going to be hardpressed to find some reason why this contest is different from other web contests in the past.

But wait, this could be the difference that we’ve been looking for! Marriott Resorts Hawaii has also included a YouTube contest where people can upload self-created videos telling why they love Hawaii and one lucky person will receive a free tweetup for 12 people courtesy of Marriott. It’s absolutely amazing that this resort company is reaching out to the technology-savvy individuals and it seems that they truly understand the power behind social media.

Will this contest succeed? I’m hoping that it will and am noticing that several of my friends that I follow on Twitter have been “blessed” with the templated Twitter message – indicating that they’ve used the Twitter integration to register for a trip. And you can to by going to marriotthawaiitweets.com and entering as often as you like it seems. Make sure you read their rules and eligibility before completing the form.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."