Costa Rica Travel Market

Free No Longer Means Free to Consumers

The world of advertising has changed the market's definition of the word "Free". As a result, small businesses have surprisingly found out that when free giveaways are offered, the public's reaction is usually a negative one.

If you were to look up the definition of the word free as it relates to the cost of something, you might find the following: "given or available without charge". Correctly used, you would utilize the word when you are happy to provide a benefit without any other attachments. Words however morph over time as their use becomes untrue to their definition.

The world of advertising has changed the market's definition of the word "Free". Let's take the much used phrase "Buy One get the Second Free". Clearly, the fact that a "non-paid" item is attached to a conditional purchase makes the whole situation an uncomfortable one. As a result, small businesses such as ours,, have surprisingly found out that when free giveaways are offered, the reaction is actually a negative one.

Back in 2009 our business, a Latin American Online Travel Agency, decided to target the US Spring Break market with Costa Rica All Inclusive Beach offers. With Mexico's drug cartel violence peaking, popular Mexican destinations were perceived as dangerous. At this point we anticipated Costa Rica could be positioned as a great alternative for Spring breakers. Free to college students must create curiosity and interest, correct?

A Facebook app was developed where all the user had to do was share the invitation to participate and the lucky winner would receive a free 6 night spring break stay for three people in one of the most popular Costa Rica beach hotels. The prize was all inclusive for meals and beverages, included ground transportation and taxes.

We had to cancel the raffle after two weeks because of the 120 participants we got, only 6 were US residents (one of the conditions to qualify). When we surveyed the public as to the poor response, they seemed to agree on one thing: "well, we figured it was a time-share scheme sort of thing, something that meant we had to sit during a presentation if we won. Obviously some scam...".

Now time passed and superb software was introduced for small business owners that allowed them to run giveaways such as Rafflecopter, Wildfire, Promosimple and others. This lead us to believe that the market might be coming into a new era of acceptance for freebies.

Last month we launched our new segment focused platform for Costa Rica Hotels to publish their deals directly to the US online travelers: As a launching promotion, we designed a Giveaway (again!). The giveaway included two prizes of a short term stay in two high class hotels. Anticipating the inconvenience of receiving a "half gift" - sort of like a printer without any cartridges - we included a rental car with insurance and all taxes so that it would be more of a complete offer. We then decided that making it a stay that can be used within the next 12 months in addition to being a prize that could be transferred to a friend and family, a giveaway no one would want to miss!

Well once again, we seem to be wrong. The Costa Rica Stay Giveaway has still two weeks to go and entries have been limited this time around as well. For the consumer the work 'free' is no longer true to its definition but in the case of the giveaway, FREE is meant in the true definition of the word.

Costa Rica Travel Market LLC is a online travel operator with offices in the Denver, CO and San Jose, COSTA RICA. Costa Rica Marketplace delivers an online platform for Hotels to publish Deals & Offers to the US market. For more information contact:, or contact Monica McIntyre at 1.888.831-1811 or by email at

Categories: Travel, Personal Travel

Tags: Costa Rica Hotel Deals, costa rica travel, Costa Rica Travel Deals

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Monica McIntyre
Costa Rica Travel Market
Costa Rica Travel Market
481 S Washington St
Denver, CO 80209
United States