How I Won the Biggest Online Hunt for Travel Adventurers with Cox&Kings
Sometime last year, on a quiet evening while scrolling down my Facebook news feed. I stumbled upon my friend Anisha Bangera’s post where she had just won a contest “GrabYourDream” run by Cox&Kings in association with gadventures & ezeego. The contest was about the biggest hunt for travel adventurers in India with 12 winners getting picked per season and each of them gets a chance to travel on an all-expenses-paid holiday to some of the most exciting places on earth. Woah!! How lucky one has to be, right?
Anisha & I were part of Godrej Cinthol’s “Alive is Awesome” campaign and knew each other from our Andaman adventure. I knew that she was an active blogger, adventurer & a social media enthusiast. When I thoroughly checked out the details of the contest, I was very intrigued with the entire concept which was aimed at finding some of the best travel adventurers with skills such as photography, writing, blogging, food expertise, social media reach etc. I kinda felt, I had a good chance if I gave it a try with season 2 of GrabYourDream contest coming up. I started following regular updates from Cox&Kings diligently hoping they would announce Season 2 contest sooner or later.
Days & weeks went past, I was busy as usual with my travels, adventures & work before coming across the announcement of GrabYourDream Season 2 contest on Facebook.
I was quite excited and I saw this as a tremendous opportunity not to just win & travel, but to be part of something unique and path-breaking campaign. It was not to be missed out without trying. I sat back, took a deep breath and just went back in time remembering all my travels & adventures starting with my first adventure of dropping out of my college at age 17, jumping off a cliff, horrific street food alleys of Shanghai, exploring the vast coastline of India in search of perfect waves for surfing, setting records for highest altitude paddling and many more amazing travel escapades I have had. I knew I had a good collection of stories to submit with my photos, videos, but I didn’t rush to submit, rather I waited for couple of days, carefully picking my submissions which included a video of myself swimming with Giant Turtles in Lakshadweep Islands, extreme photos of Kite-surfing from deep down southern India on an assignment for Nat Geo, people & culture shots from across India and a photo series of my various adventures & expeditions; hopefully giving my submission a good chance to stand out from thousands of entries. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I knew that I had a good chance if I were to be picked. Sixth sense? May be ;)
2 months later, I was on my way to Manapad, a coastal hamlet somewhere in southern Tamil Nadu when I received an email from GYD team saying I had made it to the top 50 list of chosen travel adventurers. My excitement bound no limits and I knew I was one step closer to “Grabbing My Dream” with Cox&Kings. I dreamt some wonderful destinations that night :)
Few days, weeks passed by and the only thing I was eagerly waiting for was the auditions to happen. It was the last hurdle to grab my dream and I knew I had a good chance, but then there were also other equally talented individuals who had made into the top 50. As the days drew closer, I was worried & becoming restless about the entire process. I had so many doubts & questions in my mind wondering what kind of questions they would ask me, what do they expect out of me, Am I good enough ?
At some point I had to stop worrying about everything else & rather try concentrating on preparing myself for the process. I vigilantly prepared a CV of myself which I had never done before, I learnt more about Cox&Kings, Gadventures & ezeego, I spoke to my friend Anisha a few times regarding her experience from GYD season 1. Regular posts on social media with plenty of tips from season 1 winners helped a great deal too in understanding the concept behind the mega contest. Phew !
The D-Day arrived for me when I was called for an audition in Bangalore, which was the last destination for auditions after Delhi & Mumbai. I was nervous, tense & didn’t know what to expect, but I was confident about myself, I only wanted to focus on presenting myself to the best of my capabilities & be straight forward. When I reached the venue, I had a brief chat with other contestants, some members of GYD team, everyone seemed very chilled & encouraging that it calmed my nerves.
But to my surprise, I was taken back when I entered the audition hall to see so many people on the jury, ready to grill me! There were cameras, lights, microphones and it seemed very surreal to me. I politely introduced myself and sat down on the couch pretending all was perfect. Now, without getting into the facts I will gladly skip the part of my interaction details with jury because I frankly don’t remember much of the conversation I had :) Everything happened at a brisk rate. The entire process didn’t last for more than 10-12 minutes in which I showed my CV, answered a few questions and finished my audition by spinning the wheel, which threw a random challenge at me by the jury.
I left the room hurriedly in two minds thinking that I had done well and also maybe a couple of things where I could have done better during my interaction with the jury. Nevertheless, done is done. I was a relieved man and whether I was going to win or not, I felt proud to have made it to the top 50 out of 15,000 odd entries.
Next couple of weeks, I didn’t bother much since nothing was in my hands anymore. I had given my best shot and it was up to the GYD jury to pick the best 12 deserving candidates. Feb 18th midnight was the occasion all the top 50 participants were looking forward to including me. I was checking the GYD website on 18th midnight to see the list of winners & was expecting an e-mail. Whereas winners were getting announced on twitter first, which I didn’t have a clue about. Strangely, my phone had quite a number of twitter notifications that night, which made me check my twitter account which then revealed that “I”was one of the lucky 12 travel adventurers of GrabYourDream Season 2. Don’t ask me, If I managed to sleep that night. I had grabbed my dream with both of my hands :)
Now, after a few days of bragging over social media, friends & family, the next big question was, when & where I was going to travel? I am sure all the top 12 winners pondered over the same thing. I was personally looking forward to the big get together event in Mumbai, which would bring all the 12 winners together for the first time, to meet the wonderful GYD team, which had worked hard, tirelessly and of course the revelation of all our destinations, which was the icing on the cake :)
Everything was so well organized for us that it was a fantastic occasion for all top 12 winners. We met each other, exchanged pleasantries, got to know each other’s amazing journey & intros. The GYD team were superb, Mr Ashutosh, Mr Sougata Das, Niloufer, Zahid and other team members were all super helpful and were kind enough to answer our various queries, share tips and explained our roles as travel ambassadors for the brand. Obviously, the best part was the announcement of destinations to each winner which was really fun and enthralling. There was a lot of anticipation, excitement and cheerfulness around. 12 unique destinations were announced for all the 12 winners. My destination was the land down under with plenty of marine activities on the itinerary.
Since then, the team as been helping us to prepare for our upcoming adventures relentlessly. As I write this, some of them have already finished their travels, some are in the middle of their incredible adventures and I am keenly awaiting my Aussie exploits to begin. In fact, the only thing I remember clearly from my audition is when the jury asked me to pick a destination, I said Australia without blinking my eyes.