Aspen Public Radio’s “Van Life” Rental Giveaway


As part of our Fall 2020 Membership Drive, Aspen Public Radio promoted a special giveaway opportunity in which we asked listeners to make a gift of any size to be entered into a drawing to win a generous 4-night van rental package from local business, Aspen Custom Vans, valued at $1,100. Aspen Custom Vans is a locally-owned company specializing in custom camper and “sprinter” van builds and rentals. These vans are wildly popular in Colorado, with many Millennials and Gen Zers (and retirees!) turning toward living, traveling, and exploring the country in custom-built vans as a way of enjoying “van life” minimalism.

This giveaway was an innovative approach to fundraising in that it appealed to a young demographic and kept safety in mind during the COVID-19 pandemic—all while highlighting a homegrown, local business in the heart of the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado. While many giveaway opportunities in the past have promoted exotic travel destinations, that wasn’t possible during quarantine. So, turning our focus to drivable locales accessible within and around our own beautiful Valley proved to be a much more successful strategy.

We promoted this giveaway through social media and an email campaign, and we also pitched this giveaway on the air as a “socially-distanced road trip” opportunity. We specifically shared details about the van rental fleet that would be attractive to adventurous individuals and young families—for example: vehicles include solar power, 4-wheel drive, camp stoves and kitchens, and all the creature comforts needed for an off-the-grid vacation at nearby campsites and public lands in our region. We also noted the meticulous CDC-guided sanitization process that each van in the fleet underwent, both before and after each rental, as a direct response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially, this giveaway opportunity was a 3-night package valued at $800. However, the owners of Aspen Custom Vans were so pleased with the campaign’s messaging and the well-researched “halo effect” of public media underwriting that they contacted us to add an additional night onto the giveaway package, increasing its in-kind value to $1,100. When we shared this update with listeners, it created even more urgency and excitement for listeners to donate.