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There has long been friction in the travel hacking community between “experts” and bloggers. I put “experts” in quotation marks, because everyone THINKS that they are an expert, but I find that there are very few people that *I* would consider experts :-). The friction comes because there is generally a negative correlation between how popular a particular deal is, and how often it stays around. There have been plentiful reports of deals that were working fine for some time, only to appear on a blog and be shutdown within a matter of days.
There have been a couple of really great posts lately about this topic
- Points Are King: Game Theory: Why deals get killed
- PF Digest: I am become Death, destroyer of deals (with a great comment / parable about cows and milk by Noah from Money Metagame)
Both articles are definitely worth reading
Signing up for multiple Alaska Airlines cards
These posts cite a specific deal and possible evidence for how it got killed. Awhile ago, it was possible to sign up for multiple Alaska Airlines cards AT THE SAME TIME! There was a post from a famous blogger talking about how he got FIVE Alaska cards on the same day (since been removed)
From the PF Digest article
I live in Charlotte, and those of you who live here know that in some ways, Charlotte’s a small town… and banking can be a small industry. I was recently chatting with a Bank of America associate in a position to know, and he informed me that the MMS post was what shut down the deal. And not because too many people jumped on the deal, but because the post itself was brought to attention of a high level credit card executive, who promptly had some changes made
In the Points are King game Theory article referenced above, he talks through the differences between a “big blogger” and a “small blogger”, and why each of them might choose to share or not share a deal.
How I handle sharing deals on this blog
I actually think about deal killing quite a bit before I share a deal or “trick” here on the blog, and I thought I’d share some of the things that I think about before hitting “publish”. Referring to the multiple Alaska cards trick, I DID mention applying for multiple Alaska Airlines cards at once here on the blog, though I only applied for two.
My rule of thumb is if it’s a manufactured spending type “trick”, I keep it to myself unless it’s widely known (i.e. on blogs much bigger than my own). The last dilemma I had was regarding the fact that you could match Southwest Companion status to Alaska Airlines MVP Gold 75K status. I thought about that one quite a bit before deciding it was okay to publish, and the main reason was that it had been on blogs way bigger than mine. Fast forwarding a few months, whether it had to do with my post, posts by others, or something completely unrelated, that status matching trick is no longer available.
Generally though, I tend to err on the side of not publishing things. There are a few tricks that I use that I have kept to myself (or shared at local meetups like the one we’re having this afternoon!). And while I DO enjoy helping people, the fact is that once it’s out on the Internet, it’s out there and won’t go away. While I (and I think most travel hackers) enjoy helping people that are truly trying to learn, I’ve learned from experience that there are way too many “lurkers” who only want to be spoonfed deals and aren’t really putting in a ton of effort (the “circles and arrows” crowd). Which isn’t to say that all “lurkers” are like this – there ARE plenty of people who don’t comment much but are still actively trying to learn.
For flight deals, mistake fares and travel deals like that though, I post anything I think is an extraordinary deal as soon as possible, because those types of deals have half-lifes that are measured in hours, not days, weeks or months.
I do think that this “tension” between bloggers and other community members is inevitable, and my only advice is to hit any deal hard, don’t assume that it’s going to last forever, and always have a backup plan (or two or three!) Just ask people who signed up for a card with a $10,000 minimum spend right before their Bluebird and Serve accounts got shut down!
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