Everyone loves a good travel competition, and your chances of winning an amazing trip or cash prize can be pretty good, especially if the contest requires a little work on your part to enter. If you’ve ever been curious about what happens behind the scenes of a holiday competition, you might be surprised by the amount of rules and regulations a business must comply with to ensure everything is legal and above board. Sweepstakes, Contests and LotteriesGenerally, a holiday competition will fall into one of three categories: sweepstakes, skills contest or lottery. In a sweepstakes, winners are drawn at random, while a skills contest requires a specific task on the part of participants that will determine the winner, such as submitting a photo or creating a funny caption.Lotteries are different altogether. A lottery is a highly regulated drawing for a prize where a person must pay to buy a chance to win. Interestingly, a combination of a sweepstakes and skills contest could be considered an illegal lottery, depending on the country in which you live.Rules and RegulationsCompanies that promote themselves through a sweepstakes or a skills-based contest must lay out specific information for the public, including the official rules. The laws governing promotional competitions require that the official rules clearly communicate to participants the terms and conditions of a holiday competition, including the dates of which the contest opens and closes, as well as when and the way in which the winner will be announced. The prize description should also be clear, including the retail value.Sweepstakes and contests should also be transparent regarding who is eligible to enter and this will vary from country to country. Make sure you read this section carefully before taking the time to participate in a travel contest as many companies restrict the participants to those who reside in their home country.For a sweepstakes in particular, a business must treat each entry the same and provide each person with an equal chance to win. They also must state “no purchase necessary” as part of their requirements for entry. Even if they do request a purchase be made, they must also offer a way for participants to enter without paying to play.Personal InformationYou should know before entering a holiday competition that companies will require your contact information - not only to contact you should you win a prize, but also to market to you in the future. This is a big reason brands hold competitions in the first place - to create lists for sending out information on upcoming sales or promotions on their products or services. They want to turn contacts into paying customers.Don’t let this deter you from entering a contest! Companies must also provide a way for you to “unsubscribe” to online communications, so that option is always available, should you wish to forgo receiving future emails. You can also “unlike” a Facebook page or “unfollow” a Twitter handle once the competition closes, if liking and following were requirements for entry. Unsubscribing from promotional information received by regular mail may require a little more effort on your part, but if that is the cost of a chance to win a holiday competition, it’s probably worth it.