Everyone loves to travel, but the cost is high and many of us save up to go abroad just once a year – that’s why holding competitions should be a part of every travel brands marketing strategy.Prospective travellers jump at the chance to win a freebie, and a successful contest can help your brand grow overnight. Check out our simple but awesome competition ideas…Holding a photo competition will encourage aspiring photographers to take partHold a photo contestWhether you’re looking to improve website traffic, increase your social media following or simply have a bit of fun, holding a photo competition is a simple and effective way to engage an audience.Platforms like Instagram, which is dedicated to capturing and sharing moments with beautiful images, has made photography extremely popular amongst people from all different age groups.Coupled with the chance to secure bragging rights, the popularity of photography is enough to ensure high participation, but offering a significant prize for the winner(s) will guarantee a great turnout. Consider what your audience wants. Is it a discounted holiday? Free flight tickets? Gift cards?Once the reward has been set, start to plan all the other aspects of the campaign, including the rules, sponsors, duration and the winner selection process.Back in 2012, Qatar Airways tried their luck with a photo contest. 220 impressive prizes, including economy and business class air-tickets, prompted photographers to submit snapshots that fall under the following categories: vibrant cultures, magnificent cities, breath-taking nature and exciting journeys.Not only do photo contests provide brand exposure for businesses, sponsors and aspiring photographers alike, but they also allow you to collect photos and other valuable data which can be used for further marketing opportunities.For example, if your travel agency specialises in scuba diving trips, you can ask entrants to submit impressive ‘under-the-sea’ images and use them on your website, brochures and other marketing materials to promote your service. Run a sweepstakesUnlike contests, a sweepstakes is based purely on the chance of winning a random draw and does not require any skill to enter. Therefore, sweepstakes are likely to have a higher participation rate than contests, if promoted well.First, decide what you wish to achieve and set specific and measurable goals to help you determine whether the outcome has been successful.Sweepstakes are great for more reasons than one: they can help to generate leads, increase newsletter subscriptions, enhance social media presence, and even improve brand loyalty by offering existing customers the chance to win something that they really want, amongst so much more.Like a contest, a sweepstakes promotion needs a duration that is long enough to attract a good number of participants, but short enough to keep them excited about the results.If your objective is to increase newsletter subscriptions, ask entrants to sign up to your newsletter before the closing date for the chance to win an exclusive prize, which could be anything from a box of goodies to a free holiday. Remember, the better the prize, the more people will participate.Moreover, customers will be delighted to sign up to your newsletter if your business offers regular promotions.Expedia CruiseShipCenters offer the chance to win a free 7-night cruise for two in the Caribbean. Entrants must simply enter their names and contact details for the chance to win! Conduct a caption competitionConducting a caption competition on social media is another fun way to engage your audience, grow your following and promote specific areas of your travel brand such as a revamped logo design or new destinations that your agency offers travel to.Thomas Cook asked people to caption an image of a topless and sunburnt man standing on the beach for the chance to win £500 in vouchers as first prize, and even offered £20 to four subsequent runner-up’s. Duncan Nagle, the winner of the contest, commented ‘superfragileafterdrinkingsunburnisatrocious’ and took home the huge prize.Caption competitions are light-hearted and entrants are happy to take part just for fun, so travel brands can offer a smaller prize than expected from other contests and still expect high participation.Reverse caption competitions are equally as effective. Share a single sentence on social media and ask your audience to provide an image. This is another great way to collect images which can be used for further marketing purposes. Competitions enhance engagement, and engagement is the first step towards generating paying customers. Encourage engagement by appealing to your audience’s competitive side. We’re all a little competitive, especially when a trip to the Maldives is at stake!Have you had success with a competition that we haven’t mentioned? Tweet us @billianIT or join the conversation using the hashtag #tech4travel.