60 Seconds with FlyerTalk member SkiAdcock (a.k.a. Sharon Adcock)

60 Seconds with FlyerTalk member SkiAdcock (a.k.a. Sharon Adcock)

SkiAdcock (a.k.a. Sharon Adcock) is an active member of FlyerTalk.com and frequently posts about current contests and sweepstakes in the “Free Travel Contests and Sweepstakes” forum. As a marketing/PR consultant in the entertainment industry, she is a frequent business traveler, although half of her current travel is for leisure.

InsideFlyer
What loyalty programs are you a member of?
Sharon Adcock
I belong to every single loyalty program (partly joking), but I focus on United, Marriott, Hilton and maybe Northwest (now Delta post merger). I have lifetime Platinum status with Marriott and lifetime Premier Executive with United as a Million Miler. Back when I was traveling more than I am now, I was top tier on United and American but when I started traveling less, I found I could only be top tier on one but not both, so I focused on United and 1K status. With United as a Star Alliance member, it meets my flying needs when traveling domestically and overseas. And it’s a good idea to be a member of two hotel programs because when you’re in an area where there might not be one you can go to the other. Over the years, Marriott and Hilton have met my needs, especially since they both have different brands with different price points so one night I might stay at a full-service hotel and the next night I might stay with one of their second tiers. They just have more international and domestic properties.

IF
When and why did you start posting travel contests on FlyerTalk?
Adcock
I started around 2003 as a way to give back to FlyerTalk and that’s why I keep doing it. I get a lot from FlyerTalk both in terms of knowledge of the loyalty programs as well as getting help with questions when traveling. When I stumbled across the forum I started posting along with Singlemalt, who founded the forum, and others. FlyerTalk member outoftown also posts quite a bit. I do it as a hobby. It’s just a fun thing to do and a way to give back to FlyerTalk.

IF
Have you won anything from contests or sweepstakes?
Adcock
Yes. Some of the prizes I’ve won are 5,000 Hyatt points, a trip to New York on JetBlue, a camcorder from a United Hemisphere’s sweepstakes, a $50 Best Buy gift card and a $100 pre-paid gift card from Discover. To be posted on FlyerTalk, the grand prize has to be travel related, but many sweepstakes have secondary prizes and you may win something cool that isn’t travel related, like a gift card. The odds are a long shot but I think of it more as a hobby with the potential for a big pay off. And while entering, I’ll think, wouldn’t it be nice to win a million miles? It’s just fun, and since most sweepstakes are online, there is no cost but your time.

IF
Do you have any tips on how to win contests or sweepstakes?
Adcock
Not really, other than that if you don’t enter you don’t win. You have a better chance of winning local or regional contests because there’s less competition and sometimes they are open for a shorter period of time and have more restrictions. A lot of local sweepstakes aren’t even posted online, such as those hosted by a radio station, gas station or supermarket. The number one key, whether local or national, is to enter.

IF
If you were to win a million miles, what would you do with them?
Adcock
I would redeem them the same way I redeem earned miles–for international first class tickets.

IF
In general, are winners required to pay taxes on their prizes?
Adcock
Technically yes, all prizes need to be reported as income. However, a judging entity or sponsor does not have to issue a 1099 for prizes valued at $600 or less. Some do, some don’t. If you do win something, try to do a ‘dummy booking’ to compare actual retail value with fair market value. Let’s say you won a trip to Hawaii valued at $10,000. Try to book an airline ticket and hotel stay for the dates of the prize trip. If they’re only $3,200 and you can provide documentation to the IRS showing the lesser amount, you only have to pay taxes on $3,200. When you win, always check the fair market value of what you’ve won. Do your homework; the same goes for winning airline miles and hotel points. Challenge their value and see what it would cost you to buy the same number of miles or points.

IF
Do you have an estimate of how many people have won something based on your FlyerTalk threads?
Adcock
There is a thread in the forum about those who have won a prize from contests posted on FlyerTalk. There are over 300 posts in that thread so there have been many people who have won. One FlyerTalk member, twobyte, won three trips in 2009.

IF
Any unique way that you have been thanked?
Adcock
No, not really. People say thank you, and it’s fun knowing somebody won based on a sweeps I posted. I hope it’s me but if not, then I hope it’s a FlyerTalker who wins.

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