20% of travelers on a Small Group Tour hook-up on the trip. Guess what % was with the Tour Guide?

In the early days on facebook (actually not-so-early, but still many years ago) they opened up the ability to claim domain names for pages. For example, my facebook url is facebook.com/nevraumont – I got my last name because I claimed it first. A buddy and I also jumped at the chance to claim a whole bunch of other facebook urls.

If you had a “page” and that page had at least 20 “likes” you could claim any url you wanted. It was like the early days of the internet. A buddy and I got to work. We build pages, added ~5 links to them with relevant topics, bought facebook ads to get 20 likes, and then claimed urls. We have hundreds of them, about a dozen are really good.

One of my favorites is facebook.com/travel.

Over the years the two of us have tried to build side-businesses on top of the urls. It’s a lot harder than it looks. I am more than confident it’s possible if one were to work on it full time. Both of us have way too high opportunity costs to do that. If you (or someone you know) is interested in building a business on top of a premium facebook domain, let me know. We have names in the travel, weddings, automotive, education, financial and legal spaces (among others). Basically the categories that were making money though Google search at the time.

But I digress.

One of the businesses we build was StopoverTravel.com. The idea was to create a repository of tour companies, and then link to them for affiliate revenue. For fun I started writing content on the site. Once a week I would write about a cool thing to do in the world. The site still exists. If you are looking for travel inspiration, check it out. While this was happening, Google launched Google Surveys. It’s a very inexpensive way to survey people on the internet. I had some free credits so I gave it a try. My goal was to get results that could conceivably go viral (I will talk about why that is basically a terrible idea in another post).

This is that story.

What Google Doesn’t Like
The headline I wanted to run was something like: “People have a lot of sex on small group tours” I wanted to get data on how often it happened, how long the hook-ups lasted, and for even more fun: who it happened with.

My first survey design was set up like this:

Screening question: Have you ever gone on a small group tour? Anyone who said “No” would be eliminated and the next questions would only be asked to people who said “Yes” First question: “While on a small group tour, did you ever have sex with someone you met on tour?” The possible answers were things like, “No”, “Yes, with a fellow traveler”, “Yes, with a local”, “Yes, with the tour guide”

I thought it would be great.

Virality here I come!

I submitted.

Then I got this email from Google:

Thank you for using Consumer Surveys. However, your survey has not yet begun running.

We do not allow surveys to run with your submitted content per the Nudity, Obscenity, and other Adult Material.

We don’t allow surveys that contain nudity, obscenity or sexually suggestive material.  Surveys should not relate to porn, dating with a sexual or mature nature or sexual aids & devices.

Please remove all references to adult material and re-submit.

Oops. Time for a new word for “sex”. I asked my partner. Here was his list:

  • “Hook-up”
  • “Casual relationship”
  • “Physical relationship”
  • “One night stand”
  • “Make-out”
  • “Go all the way”
  • “Score with”
  • “Become intimate with”
  • “Biblically know someone”

(My partner is great)

I re-submitted the survey with the word “sex” replaced by the word “Hook-up” (in quotes).

I hit submit.

A day later I received another email from Google:

 Thank you for using Consumer Surveys. However, your survey has not yet begun running.

We don’t allow surveys that contain nudity, obscenity or sexually suggestive material.  Surveys should not relate to porn, dating with a sexual or mature nature or sexual aids & devices.

Please remove all references to adult material and re-submit.

Apparently no “hook-ups”. I tried again. This time replacing the offending language with “Did you ever begin a relationship (even if very short term)?” Google wrote me back:

Thank you for using Consumer Surveys. However, your survey has not yet begun running.

We do not allow surveys to run with your submitted content per the Nudity, Obscenity, and other Adult Material.  The second question of your survey has innuendo of dating with a sexual/mature nature.

Please remove the part from your second question that reads “(even if very short term)”.

This question could work if it were about non-mature content.  For example,

“While on a small group tour have you ever begun a relationship?”

Answer Choices: Yes – I met my future Spouse Yes – I made lifelong friends No

Answers that point to specifically who in the group (tour guide, locals, etc) and the language about “even if very short term” make the current question seem like it is about mature content.

Still a no. But at least they were being helpful now. I was speaking to a real human being who was making judgement calls. I made some more changes and wrote him back:


Just took out the short term part. We do want to know who it was with.
We would love to know how long the relationship lasted. I just added a question about that. Thanks for the suggestion!
(It would be great if I could understand how long it lasted based on who it was with – but it looks like the system isn’t set up for that yet. Please do let me know if that ever changes!)


He replied:


We received your newly submitted survey.  Unfortunately, question two is not going to work given our policies.  Moreover, the word “romance” will not work in question 3 either.Unfortunately, given the intent and subject matter of the survey, I do not believe that our platform is the right place to deliver this survey.

Is there another subject you’d like to run a survey about?  If so, please note that the entire survey is editable – including the name, description and all the questions. If not, please let us know and we are happy to issue you a refund for this survey.

We appreciate your giving our product a try and want you to have a stellar experience!

Warm regards,

Oops. I think I pushed too far. I took a different tactic:


I’m really trying.


In question #3 how would you word it? Given your policies, I’m not sure what the issue is with the term “romantic relationship”? I want to differentiate between a romantic relationship and a friendship (which wouldn’t make sense to turn into a spouse for example). Is there another term I should use?
And question #2 I changed exactly as you asked in your last email (I tried to go even further by modifying the word ‘local’ into ‘local member of the community” to take out negative connotation) . I just want to know who the relationship was created with. Did they meet someone they were traveling with, or did they meet someone in, say France and form a relationship with them. (I put in the tour guide only because I know someone who ended up marrying their safari guide so I thought it might happen from time to time and I wanted to fill the five options)


If I used the words ‘dating’ instead of relationship does that work better?
The two things I would like to learn at this point are:


“Have you ever begun a relationship while on a small group tour? If so:
    – With who?
    – How long did it last?”


I think that stays away from any obscenity, nudity or Adult material (under the normal definition of adult anyway. Obviously everything from marriage to buying a house is pretty adult). I’d love your help in asking those two questions in a way that meets your standards. I’m honestly perplexed at how those standards are being interpreted. But I’m willing to keep trying.


Thanks a lot for your help. I hope we are close to getting a question that meets your guidelines.

Radio silence. I wrote back again:

Just checking in. I haven’t heard back from you on this.
I’ll re-submit it again right now with the term ‘dating’ instead of ‘romantic relationship’. But if you have other suggestions, please let me know.


Still nothing. So I re-submitted and wrote him back a third time:


I just re-submitted. I tried to take out any connotations or intonations of anything adult at all.
I took out the word ‘romantic’ from everything. I used innocuous words like ‘someone from the country’ instead of words like ‘local’ (which can sometimes have negative connotations.
Please let me know if anything else needs to be adjusted. I’m pretty confident it’s well within the guidelines now,


And a response!


Thank you so much for your email.  We appreciate all of your effort in modifying your survey!  We have started your survey and you should receive an email in a few hours when it’s activated and has begun gathering results. Let us know if you have any other questions!
Persistence pays off!
Here was what the final survey looked like:


Screening question:

Have you ever gone on a small group tour to another country or state? (Examples: Gap, Intrepid, Contiki, Odyssey, etc.)

  • No
  • Yes, by myself
  • Yes, as part of a couple
  • Yes, with friends or a friend

Only people who did not answer “No” were asked the next two questions. The next two questions that were approved:

While on a traveling with a small group tour did you ever begin a relationship?

  • No
  • Yes, I met my future spouse
  • Yes, it lasted until the end of the tour
  • Yes, we continued dating after the tour
  • Yes, but it was over quickly

I am especially impressed with my writing skills on that last possible response… The final question:

While traveling to another country or state on a small group tour did you ever begin a relationship?

  • No
  • Yes, with a fellow traveler
  • Yes, with someone from that country
  • Yes, with someone running the tour
  • I’ve never been on a tour

By the time we collected all the data I had lost interest in actually putting together (and promoting) the blog post: “Sex on Tour”. Three years later I thought it might be interesting to pull up the old data and share it with the readers here on Marketing Is Easy.

Here are the fun insights: Small group travel Chart 1
Already some cool, if not viral-quality data.

About 18% of people surveyed on the internet have gone on some sort of small group travel tour. That seems a little high, but believable. Of the people who went on a tour, about 20% hooked-up at some point. Also seems pretty believable, especially given that many of these tours cater to singles. We even see that in the data, with about 75% of people NOT going as part of a couple. The range in the hook-up rate from 18.6-20.7% comes from the fact that the survey gave slightly different answers to the next two questions. The fact that it asked different people these next two questions, and the results were so close is another sign the data is legitimate.

Now the fun part.

Of the people that said they hooked-up (I will continue to use the word, even though Google wants me to say “started a relationship”), here is how long the relationships lasted and who the hook up was with: Small Group Travel Chart 2
How fun is that data?

About 40% of the people who hook-up end up getting married! Or about 20% x 40% = 8% of people who have gone on a small group tour got married to someone they started a relationship with there. Since about 20% have gone on a tour, that means it drives 1.6% of people in the US got married to someone they met on tour.


People may have mis-interpreted the question, but directional it’s a little heart warming. Most of those “Tour Hook-ups” actually lead to post-tour relationships and even marriage. Cool.

Who these travelers are hooking up with is a little less surprising. About half with another traveler. A third with someone they meet locally. And about 19% with the Tour Guide.

Before I sign-off, let’s do a little reverse engineering. We know 20% of traveler hook-up, about 20% with the tour guide. It translates into 3.2% hooked-up with the guide. Let’s say there are 5 people on an average small-group tour (Many of these tours gap out at 12, and I know I’ve been on many tours where there were only two of us. Five seems reasonable). Let’s also say that of the people who have been on tours, they have been on an average of 3 tours (that is a totally made-up number, but you would guess that a lot  of people are one-and-done). That means the chance of an individual hooking-up with the guide on an individual tour is about 3.2%/3 = ~1%. Flipping it to the guide’s perspective, with five people on the tour, that gives him or her a ~5% chance of hooking-up with one of them (or a 95% of not hooking-up)

If the average tour is a week, and a guide works the full year, with two-weeks vacation, that gives an average guide 50 chances a year to hook-up. The chance of that not happening 50-times in a row is about (1- (95%^50)) 7.7%.

Unfortunately Google doesn’t allow me to cut the data across questions,so I can’t tell you the odds of those Tourist-Guide hook-ups turning into weddings. But if we assume the odds are the same as inter-traveler romance, one gets to the inevitable conclusion that if someone works as a Guide for 5 years they have almost a 100% chance of being married to someone they guided.

Any current or former Guides reading this? Does this level of debauchery match with your experience?