Secrets and Meetups

An ongoing, fascinating debate in the mile/point community has centered around the question of which deals are OK to publicly write about and which should be kept secret.  The risk of over-publicizing deals is that they may get shut down sooner as a result – either because the publicity exposes loopholes to those who are in a position to fix them, or because it greatly increases the number of people taking advantage of a deal to the point where it becomes unsustainable.  On the other hand, some deals get tons of exposure and keep on chugging away (e.g. credit card signup bonuses, Amazon Payments, etc.).  In those cases, the added exposure helps more and more people get started in this hobby so that they too can save more, travel more, or take dream trips they never before believed possible. 

I don’t have the perfect answer to what should or should not be public.  I’ve attempted to articulate my “rules” (see “Blogging the line”), but truthfully each new deal raises new questions that I ultimately answer through a gut-check:  Does it feel right to write about this or not?

The best way to learn about the deals that are not made public is to build up a network of trusted friends with similar interests in this hobby.  People who know you and trust your discretion are likely to share their secrets with you.  And, the best way to build up this network is to meet others, in person.

Meetups

There are a number of ways to find and meet other mile/point enthusiasts.  Two very useful tools are the Community Buzz forum on Flyertalk and the Meetups forum on Milepoint.  Scan those forums for meetups near where you live and/or in places you plan to go.  Usually these events are pretty informal (e.g. meet for happy hour at a neighborhood bar), but some are more extensive and include multi-day agendas. 

Beyond these casual meetups, you can also look to attend “DOs” or seminars such as the Chicago Seminars, Frequent Traveler University seminars, Mile Madness DOs, etc. (see more in this recent write-up).

To be clear, you shouldn’t go to these meetups with the expectation that people will spill secrets to you right then and there.  Instead, look at these meetups as opportunities to make new friends who share similar interests.  And then, over time, if you’re lucky, some of those new friends will share secret tips with you.

Speaking of Meetups…

If you live in the Ann Arbor area (Southeast Michigan), you might be interested in joining a new group I started on Meetup.com.  The idea is to have an easy way to broadcast meetups to people in the area.  If you’re interested, please go to meetup.com/Ann-Arbor-Miles-Points and click “Join Us!”

MeetupJoinUs

When you’re ready to propose a meetup, just click “Suggest a new meetup:”

MeetupSuggest

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. It’s not just blogging about a deal, its also HOW its blogged about. For example, blogging three straight days of headline artciles with detailed step-by-step instructions and then blogging that the deal will end soon attracts a lot of people then promotes panic buying. This is different then merely mentioning the deal. It’s not just “either-or” there are degrees.

    • Yes, that’s true, how something is blogged about does matter. With the Staples deal, though, the handwriting was on the wall that it was going to end soon so I felt like it was helpful to get the word out quickly. I know that some will think that my posts hastened the end, but I really doubt it. All I can do is what I think is best in each situation.

      • There are many who feel your several staples posts did help end it.
        .
        You may have felt the need to “help others find the deal” but my question is:
        .
        WHY?
        .
        MS is often triage. We can only help so many, and as sad as this may sound, it is so true that we must help ourselves and those closest to us first and foremost. We can gain nothing by helping the masses do the deal by posting step by step detailed instructions with everything but the circles and arrows. Those people need to be taught HOW to do the craft, not exactly what to do in each instance of it.
        .
        That is, unless all those people are members of your extremely large extended family, or if you are getting paid a ton to give the info up, in which case we would all like to see a detailed step by step posting or two on exactly how we can learn every method for competing for your business. THAT would be helpful!

        • A better question, in my mind, is WHY NOT?
          This was a publicly available opportunity much like when Office Max offers a discount on Visa or MasterCard gift cards in store. Telling people about a deal like this and warning them that it is likely to end soon seem to me to be the perfect topics for a blog like mine. I’ve been writing about double and triple dip opportunities to maximize point earnings since starting my blog in late 2011. And, this was the perfect triple dip! 5X Ink + 5% portal + 1% Visa Savings Edge. It was a beautiful thing. Arguably, the crime would be to not write about it!

  2. I went to FTU Tampa and I found that most people in the game are helpful and friendly. Once I made friends who had similar interests, I’d give a tip and then the other person would give another tip as well so it works both ways. If you tell them a goal of yours (i.e. to stay at Paris Vendome or fly Lufthansa First), I’ve noticed your new friends will remember that and will give you emails later if they see anything that may help you reach your goal.

    As far as blogging secrets, I agree with Rebecca. With the whole British Airways fuel surcharges of $0 when booking via US Airways dividend miles, I wish bloggers instead showed an example of their new oneworld redemption using Dividend Miles and note in the bottom that somehow US AIrways left out the YQ. Give the reader a tip by reading through the entire article versus just reading the title.

  3. Just back from Churchill War Rooms. Spot on! We will fight in small squads until we take the Vendome by storm next Friday!

  4. I was inspired and started a group for Orlando (didn’t see anything like it). If you’re in the area you should join. We’ll figure out a date/time after we see how much interest there is.

    Thanks for the idea Greg!

  5. FM, as far as “bloggiing the fine line,” yes, you’ve had hiccups but I will have to say that you’ve demonstrated the best effort /behavior to fine tune what, which and how much to share and sustain the deals longer. Kudos.

  6. I have been touting these ideas for years and I am glad to see Greg post them too now.
    .
    We want to do anything we can to prolong what we do… MS and finding other deals. We do not want to do anything to see things fall apart.
    .
    Pming or emailing with others is a great way to share ideas and get help. Smaller groups are often more effective than larger ones.
    .
    Yea in life it is good to share, but to be perfectly honest, we must refrain from doing it on a large and public scale in this fragile craft. Do sharing amongst yourselves. Not emas. That does no good to anyone really and here is why: huge groups cant properly help and service the newer or less experienced person, and that person thus makes mistakes or feels alienated. As well, he or she may become dependent on the dictations of others and never learn or want to go out and try and test things on his or her own or with his small specialized patrol. Thus, his or her skills are never honed and money miles or points are actually wasted or left on the table. Only maybe the kingpins who somehow become and now easily remain the gate keepers and finders of things end up getting rich.
    .
    None of that above is how MS is supposed to work.
    .
    I think it is good that somebody–anybody–can make money in this craft. But we should do it teaching independence not by fostering dependence. Then we wont shoot ourselves in the foot so much.
    .
    Some may say this is selfish or that I am.
    .
    But in this craft, if we were all a bit more selfish but we also helped each other in bits and pieces and on how to be independent we would in fact be giving a greater gift and would now not be considered selfish at all!
    .
    Not everybody can play the gigs, but everybody should be given the tools or be encouraged to use the ones they have. I say we need to be more cryptic in public and less exposed. We need to dig fox holes for small groups or units and if we do not, we will get shelled by 88s and suffer many more casualties than we can afford.

  7. Rick,
     
    Perhaps you could approach meetup.com for a discount code so folks in other areas could set up similar groups? We could use your group as a template, i.e. naming would be [city][,state] Miles & Points.
     
    I started to create a group, but I was a bit put off by the pricing. ($72 is a CC annual fee, in many cases 🙂 ). It would seem like one would need to commit to at least six months to see if an area can generate enough interest, and a 1/2 off code would make that much more palatable.

  8. With meetup.com if you go right to the end of setting up your group but then stop at the payment stage, wait 24 hours and you should get an email with a 50% off code.

    I’m trying to start a group here in Las Vegas, but meetup keep saying it’s against guidelines! will keep rewording it though! until it works!

  9. I am constantly humored (not really) by the ranting of the FEW who WHINE that their precious secrets have been exposed…….get over it Marathon Man and stop acting as if you are “entitled”………you are not “entitled”…….as that is exactly what Boarding Area stands against……..wake up and smell the coffee”……

    • @ JustSayin:
      .

      You are correct sir. I am not entitled. No one is. And I am not trying to be. You totally misread what I am saying.
      .
      But to prove my point, I am going to ask you to please tell us right here and right now one of YOUR secrets in MS or in anything for that matter. before you do, if you are wondering if you should or should not post it to the public, as yourself why you wont?
      .
      If what I just said doesn’t make sense, we are done here. If it does make sense, then you know where I am coming from. Either way, yup, I agree. No one is entitled.

    • @JustSayin:

      Good on ya. Ok, details? We need complete deets on this and how to use it and when. Now, you gave up a secret… that means two things: One: you aint using it anymore or cant use it anymore. Two: you think if everyone used it it wont die. In which case I bet others who need it also found it. I have no use for it myself but if you had told me in confidence I would not post it anywhere unless you said I could.

  10. I suppose there could be a few answers to that. One could be that people may have already known about the deal blog or no blog. I know I did. So did many people with whom I am in regular email and PM contact.
    .
    Second could be that some deals can be written about but some cannot. It is up to you as to when and what you write about, but ones that are cash positive (like Staples) should be an obvious no no. trying to figure out which ones are good to write about and which ones are bad to write about is probably a lot of mental effort. My theory on this is to, well, simply not mess up. And to do that, just don’t write about any of em! Problem solved!

    I mean, yah, you could pick it right every time and only talk about things that don’t kill anything and only actually do help people, so maybe ones like the OM deal may be kosher but as said, I knew about it and so did many people before they saw it on any blog. So why even take the risk of shooting yourself in the foot?
    .
    After all, you found out about it and wrote it. So if you either heard from friends or did your own research to find it, the fact is, it was findable by a human. People just have to go a lookin’ for these deals on their own or in their own small MS recon patrols. We also need to do what Milesabound was talking about at the CLT DO and just look at offers more deeply and try to see how they can MS for us instead of deciding not to think and let people write it all up for us. If we let people do the work for us, we become brain dead.
    .
    Finally, you said the crime would be to not write about it. Well, does that mean anyone out there who did not have a blog to write about it is a bad guy? Should they go out and set up a blog to write about things if they know of these things? Why don’t they just go out and do the things instead of writing about them. Then they can share them in their small groups where everyone is on the same page, and those groups can and will communicate amongst each other, just as WWI trenches could communicate.
    .
    In my opinion all these blogs need to be about HOW to MS, not giving up the exacting deals OF MS. I have said that a number of times.
    .
    I know this blog makes money on CC hits. I do not have any problem with the fact that you or MMS or Gleff or any blogger out there makes money on CC hits. I don’t even care if there are links in an article. That’s not my beef, although I know it is for many others. No, I think it’s fine to make money when writing about travel and ideas and such matters related to it. And I commend you for your ability to do so. I also know your blog is one of the better ones and you do a very good job both in writing and in talking about these matters. Better than most.
    .
    But what gets me is that writers–not all but most–seem to have this almost addictive need to over sell almost everything and talk about it over and over to the point where, yes, deals die because of that. Some may do it because despite the negative press about them or the inferences that they killed it because they talked about it, they still know that at the end of the day, people will come, people will read, newbies will only want what’s easily spoon fed to them, and these writers will invariably make money on more and more link hits. So the more blokes like me yap and whine and complain on these comment sections of blogs like this one or Travel Summary or where ever, the more people will come and click on more links. To the point, in fact, where the killable deal itself that is being written about is no longer even the reason why the readers flock! instead they come to witness the carnage of the trench warfare itself!
    .
    If I were to give some advice…
    .
    I’d say, yeah, write on and make money. Go for it. That is fine. But please! please do not write up things that kill deals. How do you know which? Well, if common sense aint tellin’ ya, try asking your closest mates… or even some of those persons out there who you know of who may often criticize your ways. Yes, ask those people first if you should post X. Also, try and draw a more solid line and stick by it. Don’t fall back behind that line. Hold the line at all costs.
    .
    Try to use some of that creativity to write about things but in a way that avoids direct hits on exacting things. You can still get it all done and still get readership and make link money, but without having to write stories about wondering if you crossed a line or not. Just don’t! Set an example as one of the well known blogs on how to BE a good blog! Make the word BLOG a good thing, not something most quiet, heavy user MSers and MRers who look for deals so loathe. I know you can do it… the question is whether you know you can or not.

  11. This issue of publicizing deals is very polarizing. It feels a lot like our political system. The Democrats want to share the wealth while the Republicans want to keep it themselves. A little less greed and and a little more sharing make for a better society in the FT world and the real world. In my view, the only situation where publishing a deal is wrong is when it takes advantage of a loophole or mistake made by a company — e.g., when Evolve Money mistakenly accepted credit cards and lots plenty of money in the process.

  12. Do you know of any monthly meetup or something similar in NYC. I would love to meet some like minded people. Love your blog. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *