Travel blogging is a competitive industry — and not just among the bloggers. Readers will send in emails, and forum users will publish the latest news in new threads. When people ask me how I learned about a new promotion or a change in the terms and conditions for a particular program, there’s a lot to be said for being well-read. Twitter and RSS are going to provide faster and more frequent updates than email alerts. Follow enough sites and it’s almost impossible to miss the news.
I try to provide credit where credit is due.
I also get a lot of the same emails as everyone else, so even if I’m late to a story it doesn’t necessarily mean I got it second-hand. But it’s still satisfying to be first to publish. The remaining tips can help bloggers (or you) get the details before anyone else.
The easiest and most useful tool is ChangeDetection.com.
Similar tools also exist, but what it boils down to is that you provide a specific URL you want to follow, and ChangeDetection.com will send you an email with any changes it notices. It’s usually pretty quick and highlights all the new and deleted text so you can quickly see if there’s anything important.
Usually it’s a change to the terms and conditions — maybe it’s a significant change (at least to travel hackers), or maybe they’re clarifying something minor. But if a company is trying to sweep something under the rug they may choose not to publicize every change.
Some companies have a page that lists current promotions or new routes. This sort of stuff is likely to be shared in a press release anyway, but it can take time. A change detection service is an easy way to get updates faster. For example, Alaska Airlines has one page that indexes all double miles promotions. If you’re interested in applying for a new credit card, you might request updates on the page that promotes the card so you know if the sign-up bonus increases.
Some people experiment.
This is how most new tricks/hacks/etc. are generated. Citi published lots of details about getting more value for your ThankYou points when you redeem them for American Airlines flights. But I don’t remember anything about getting more value when you redeem them for American codeshares operated by other carriers, like Alaska Airlines, until someone tried it. The best things in life take work.
Connections help. Not all are equal.
PR firms and loyalty program managers will sometimes reach out with details about upcoming promotions or new terms. But this information is under embargo, so it doesn’t help much. I can write up a post in advance and still have to publish it with everyone else. It’s very rare that I or anyone else gets a true inside scoop.
The more useful connections are with your friends who are experimenting the same as you, or who maybe have read something you overlooked. They’re going to be able to weed through the chaff and find the gems, so building relationships in the miles and points community matters greatly.