Condé Nast Traveler's industry-leading Readers' Choice Awards survey is an annual list of the best hotels, airlines, cities, cruise lines, spas, and beaches around the world—all voted by our fantastic readers. Since RCA 2015 resulted in the biggest survey in our history (with 128,000 participants and tens of thousands of comments), our objective for 2016 was to increase by 40%. The goal was met by May and surpassed our expectations by the end of the voting window.
Twenty-nine years ago, when Condé Nast Traveler asked readers to participate in our first-ever travel survey, you did so by filling out a short, paper ballot form—with pen and pencil. Times have changed. In last year's Readers' Choice Awards survey, our goal was to focus on social media engagement, particularly on Twitter, where sharing opinions and memories—good and bad ones—is such an important part of daily conversation. The survey results allowed us to find the latest travel trends straight from the travelers themselves.
Our goal was to encourage our Twitter audience to vote and engage with our survey. To do this, we asked brands, tourism boards, hotels and airlines to participate by engaging their respective audiences on social media. Brands tweeted out links to our online survey and we promoted the survey on our Twitter account, which reaches two million users.
We incentivized our fans with two fabulous travel prizes, and we regularly featured their comments and photos on our Twitter account to promote the survey.
Our industry-leading survey also got a top-to-bottom redesign that made it faster, easier, and more mobile-friendly. The upgrade led to double the number of responses.
This year we broke a record with more than 300,000 travelers taking part in our survey—in addition to millions of ratings and more than 75,000 comments and reviews. We announced the winners on October 18, 2016 on Twitter, leading to a record traffic number on the day of the announcement. We also created a Twitter Moment that featured our winners and our fans' reactions.
Our Twitter Moment featured the top winning cities, the best islands, the best hotels, the best resorts and the best airlines in the world. The Twitter Moment was featured on Twitter under the title of "The best places to travel in the world" and garnered over 2,400 retweets and favorites.
In celebration of being voted the #1 airline in America, Virgin America offered flight deal fares starting at $39. Other winners offered readers discounts on hotel stays and more.
Our designated hashtag for the campaign is #TravelerRCA and was used more than 2,000 times on the week we released the survey results.
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