Tag Archives: Points

Twitter Matters in the Points Game, Part 2

My last post on why I think Twitter is extremely valuable apparently resonated with a lot of people. Several people showed their agreement in the comments section, Do It For the Points wrote a great follow-up, and I even received a positive mention on Travel Blogger Buzz for the article. All these responses made me realize that there’s so much more value to Twitter than I covered in the original post, so I feel the need to write a follow-up of my own.

I made a passing mention at the end of the post about being able to win free stuff. As much as you might think that it’s impossible to win anything, let me tell you outright that it’s NOT impossible. One of the comments noted that he himself won two substantial prizes on Twitter. I personally won tickets to a Tennis match in Las Vegas that I ended up giving away to someone else. Ben from One Mile at a Time is currently running a promotion to win an extremely valuable 25K SPG points. Even I had a contest to give away Avios not too long ago. The best part is that it’s all random and requires no more than 10 seconds of your time! A simple “re-tweet” or one sentence is enough for an entry. There’s nothing to lose and so much to gain!

To make it even better, Twitter is a place where you can actually make friends. As strange as it sounds to be able to build a relationship online with someone you’ve never actually met, it’s amazing how far those 140 characters will teach you about someone.

A perfect example of this was FTU. I hadn’t met a single person at the conference because I’d never been to one, but I knew lots of Twitter handles. To my surprise, that was more than enough for me to figure out who people were (and you can read my post on how surprised I was that people knew me at all). In fact, Vinny even suggested that we all write our Twitter handles on our name tags since that’s how we knew each other…and that’s exactly what we did. Parag of Frequent Flyer University even said that next time he’s going to bring the picture on his Twitter account and glue that to his name card, just to make it a little easier for people to recognize him.

Try doing that with Facebook or any other social media website. It’s very unique to Twitter that you can actually meet people online and get to know them to the point where you can pick up a conversation when you do finally meet in person.

The next point actually provides tangible benefits to us as Twitter users and travelers. I mentioned in my last post that The Points Guy had all kinds of issues with an award ticket after he got to the airport (I posted the entire series of Tweets in my last post if you want to check it out). That particular case was unfortunate because United’s Twitter team is, well, useless. But that’s not the case with many other Airline and Hotel companies.

The consensus for the top travel Twitter team is @AmericanAir, and it’s not even close. Not only do they get things done, but they’re actually fun to talk to sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched them help out people that are in a jam, whether it be re-booking them on a flight, finding an item that a passenger left on a plane, explaining rules, etc.

Today, for example, George was flying American Airlines with a friend. George’s friend was on a flight 7 hours earlier than George’s was, so he thought he’d just standby for the earlier flight. He did, but the American Airlines employee he spoke with insisted that he’d have to pay a $75 fee to move up to the earlier flight, and wouldn’t budge. George checked on Twitter and some friends mentioned it should be free. George contacted American’s Twitter team to see if they could help:

The American Airlines Twitter team saves the day for this traveler!

The American Airlines Twitter team saves the day for this traveler!

Seriously, how awesome is that? The guy would have had to wait 7 hours and be on a different flight than his friend, but the AA Twitter team saved the day. They are empowered to get things done, and very few others are as effective.

Delta Points pointed out to me that @DeltaAssist is also an extremely useful resource if you’re flying that airline. I’ve never had to use them personally, but if Delta Points recommends them then it’s probably useful.

When it comes to hotels, I’ve personally found that @SPG is extremely helpful. Whenever I have a question or problem, they’re there to help. I recently tweeted that I didn’t get upgraded to a suite even though they were available online, and I was promptly given a call by the front desk to upgrade me. Jamison pointed out the @HiltonHelp team is also pretty responsive, though I don’t think they’re as empowered to get things done as the other accounts are. My brother had a terrible experience with Hilton earlier this year and the Twitter team wasn’t able to help, though that could easily have been a one-off occurrence.

You get the idea. Twitter is an extremely valuable resource for a variety of reasons, and I highly encourage you to get in on it. You can learn, win free stuff, make friends, and in some cases get things fixed when they’re not right. You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain from it, so just do it!

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If you enjoyed this post and the others on this blog, feel free to follow me via the link on the right side menu, on Facebook, or via Twitter @TravelSummary.

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Twitter Matters in the Points Game

Note that I wrote a Part 2 to this post here.

We’ve heard and read that social media has become absolutely essential for any business that wants to connect to customers and fans. But how does this translate to the loyalty points game? In my opinion, it’s way more important than most people in the game realize.

You see, while Facebook may not be the most useful social media tool for us, Twitter is a nearly perfect forum for what travel and point addicts want: quick information and pictures, with reviews.

No, not Bluebird. This is the Twitter logo!

No, not Bluebird. This is the Twitter logo!

You see, the big bloggers are really good at what they do. They write very engaging articles and take fantastic pictures. They review flights and hotels that many of us would have an interest in seeing, and they’re almost constantly traveling. But there’s so much more than what they can put in to a short blog post!

Enter Twitter. Many of the bloggers use Twitter pretty regularly while traveling. Brian, aka The Points Guy, and Ben from One Mile at a Time are two of the best at this. When they’re traveling, they’re constantly taking pictures and providing instant reviews. Whether their check-in is taking too long, their Business Class seat is broken, or they found Vanilla Reloads at a new store, they provide instant reviews.

Much of this makes it to a blog post later on, but some of it doesn’t (particularly pictures). And that brings me to my next point: there are a lot of extremely knowledgeable people that don’t blog about their tricks! People like @TheMrPickles, @FlyerTalkerinA2, @jamucsb, and @HouseofV are expert travelers and point/mile earners, and they have a lot of useful information to share.

And as Mr Pickles pointed out to me at FTU, when these expert travelers (bloggers or not) do happen to have problems of some kind, you can often times see their thought process as they figure out a solution. They ask questions, and others respond with suggestions or solutions. For example, The Points Guy recently had a problem at the airport where his award flight couldn’t get ticketed. His Twitter account gave us a play-by-play as he tried to figure out what to do and others recommended a whole spectrum of solutions, including purchasing a full-fare ticket with cash and then suing United in small claims court (which one person had successfully done).

The Points Guy gives a play-by-play of his nightmarish trip to the airport. Other Twitter users were giving him all kinds of advice!

The Points Guy gives a play-by-play of his nightmarish trip to the airport. Other Twitter users were giving him all kinds of advice!

Then there’s the more “traditional” value of Twitter: word can spread very quickly. If there’s a mistake fare, people will be talking about it on Twitter well before it hits anyone’s blog (and on Twitter you can see people experimenting on the best way to exploit the deal). If there’s a fare war between airlines, it’ll be on Twitter first and may not even make it to a blog. The same is true, although to a lesser extent, with mileage runs. Any deal where speed/timing is of the essence will almost certainly be on Twitter before on a blog.

Unfortunately there are many other topics that people talk about on Twitter, including quite a few useless comments. I realize that this is why many people avoid Twitter and it’s a legitimate excuse that has no real solution. The recent Presidential election, for example, made everyone a political pundit, and of course the race nothing to do with travel. It’s simply part of the social media deal.

The moral of the story is that if you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out on a lot of interesting information. Oh, and there are TONS of things you can win (free points, GoGo internet passes, etc.) just by tweeting certain words when people have contests. To me, the positives outweigh the negatives.

And if you’re interested, you can follow me on Twitter @TravelSummary!

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If you enjoyed this post and the others on this blog, feel free to follow me via the link on the right side menu, on Facebook, or via Twitter @TravelSummary.

The Personality of a Points Addict

I’m frugal, but I’m not cheap. And I’m betting that if you’re reading this, you’re probably very similar dealing with your money.

Here’s my deal: I HATE paying full price for anything. This is just built in to me, likely because of my parents who were extreme couponers when they first moved to this country (and yes, they do have the “only $15 in our pocket” cliche story). I was taught to save and save and save. I was taught to keep the lights off during the day, and turn them off when I left the room at night. I was taught to not bother with name brand items, because generic stuff was just as good.

That’s not to say my family was poor when I was growing up. My parents worked really hard so that we could all live a comfortable life, and we did/do. Which brings me to a different point: even when my parents became “successful,” they kept buying the generic stuff and kept saving money. It was built in to them.

I, however, am a bit more materialistic. I notice the difference between a dress shirt bought from Nordstrom or Brooks Brothers vs one bought at Sears or Kohl’s. The thing is, I’d much rather pay $20 for that dress shirt than $75. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say I wouldn’t buy that $75 dress shirt unless I could get it at half off. So I’ll wait for a sale, combine it with a coupon, stack it with a discounted gift card, and earn credit card points for the purchase. With everything stacked I get the product I wanted for a much more palatable price.

Before I lose you, let’s compare that to the travel and points game. We know how much a normal flight from LAX to JFK costs…about $350+ if you just randomly look a month in advance. But we, as savvy travelers, don’t like regular price – we want the $220 fare, because we know it will become available eventually and because it’s a great deal. It’s the reason The Flight Deal’s website exists, because there are better deals out there, and they use an objective measure of that value. It’s the reason we have CPM (cents per mile) measures, and even the new Miles per Minute measure that Mr Pickles created.

In terms of points, a round trip business class ticket from the US to Europe is usually $5K. But again, we don’t like regular price – we want a deal. We know that 100K points can be had for A LOT less than $5K. In fact, with the right credit card sign-ups you can end up paying just $5 out of pocket for that ticket (as long as you never carry a balance). I’m no mathematician, but $5 is better than $5K when you’re the one paying!

The Frequent Miler takes our obsession to a different level, because the gift card churning game can literally create points for free (plus time and effort), and that’s why everyone loves him. He showed us another avenue to feed in to our obsession to save more money, something other than credit card sign up bonuses. He helped change the game, and we all love playing the game.

Back to my original point: I’d bet that many of us that are part of the points community are the same way in our normal lives as we are in our points lives. We want a deal, and regular price is for the uninformed. But I’m sure we all know people that we shake our heads at because of their purchasing decisions. You know, the ones that we see paying cash (gasp!), paying MSRP at Banana Republic (omg!), or even combining the two (WTF!).

What we do is definitely not a bad thing. Our points obsession is time consuming – there’s no question about it. Whether it’s keeping up with FlyerTalk, taking the time to read all the blogs every day, or driving to several Office Depots or CVSs, there is a significant time commitment. The way I see it, we all value our time differently, and we all have different amounts of money. I, and I think many of us, would rather spend more of my time to figure out how to save more of my money to fuel my travel hobby. Of course there are many cases in which paying more to save time is worth it as well, but everyone has their own calculation.

By the way, this is where that Miles per Minute calculation comes in handy. We all dream of creating passive income for ourselves, so why not create a passive points income as well? It’s a different, intriguing way to think of the game!

So tell me – am I right or wrong? Are you different from what I described, and do you have different reasons for playing the points game?

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If you enjoyed this post and the others on this blog, feel free to follow me via the link on the right side menu, on Facebook, and via Twitter @TravelSummary.

Learning From My Mistakes and Successes

As is the case with most blogs that aim to teach, my goal is to help my readers learn and understand things that I personally did not understand at some point. At a time not very long ago, I was exactly who you are: someone who loves travel and who’s eyes have been opened to this new world of frequent flyer and credit card points that can allow us to travel for little or no cost. My goal is to help you achieve whatever your travel dreams are by bringing simple tips and tricks to you on a regular basis.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about learning, it’s that mistakes can often be as useful as successes. Since I’ve only started playing the points game recently, I can more or less chronicle what I did wrong and what I did right. I can recommend what might be  a better course of action than some of the well-known bloggers mention because, well, most of us just can’t start at the top.

And so I plan to write a 7 part series on how a true beginner, like I once was, can start earning, churning, and burning points with the best of ’em. I’ll discuss all the credit providers and touch on the main players in the frequent flyer world. And if there’s ever a question you have or something you’d like more information about, feel free to let us know – we’re here to help! No really, we are!

My new series will follow the below order, with Part 1 scheduled for the end of the week.

Beginner’s Guide to Points – A 6-Part Series

Part 1: Starting Out – REALLY Know What You Want

Part 2: Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Timing

Part 3: It’s Good to Diversify…Usually

Part 4: Know Your Spending Habits Really Well

Part 5: If an Amazing Offer Comes Around, Don’t Wait!

Part 6: There are LOTS of Ways to Earn Points

Cheers!