Lessons learned (or, Making plans for 2012)

Old Nov 8, 11, 5:30 pm
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Lessons learned (or, Making plans for 2012)

I realize the corpse is not yet cold (or technically even a corpse), but before GS winds down it seems to me worthwhile to start cataloguing what this year's promo teaches about next year. Here are my preliminary thoughts:
  1. Start early with retail partners. This year, several merchants switched things up in the middle of the GS period to make it harder/more costly to earn hits. In particular, after the Grand Slam was in full swing
    • Biscoff raised the prices on Anna's Cookies & Biscoff spread (and in the process, changed the offer terms to eliminate the base 250 miles)
    • Vinesse jacked up prices (apron, wine chiller) and removed other cheap items entirely
    • A certain no-cost financial institution hit -- one that had been good in prior years -- went away mid-GS thanks to the foolish decision by certain bloggers to trumpet it.
    • SkyMall did double back-flips to hide or de-list cheap items; and
    • 1-800-Flowers seemed to clamp down on giving miles for any sale items
    If you did these hits early, you probably saved yourself some money and/or scored a few extra miles.
  2. For e-miles & e-rewards, start really early. Don't wait until the start of GS to work on these. They're a lot less painful if you pace yourself by accruing points all year long, or at least starting some months in advance of GS -- say, by Memorial Day.
  3. Trust past track records. Network Solutions took over a month to post in 2010, but posted reliably. Many people had concerns this year -- whether about the use of a discount code, or the confusion over 1000 vs. 2000 miles -- and the long wait didn't help matters, but in the end miles posted for most participants right on schedule yesterday.
  4. If something looks broken, and veterans tell you it's broken, then it's broken. In prior years, US linked to an OfficeMax landing page containing a form for entering your US DM number. This year, there was no such page/form -- indeed, no way at all to type in your DM number. Various people made technically questionable claims about how OfficeMax could still credit the miles, all of which proved to be completely incorrect. OMX was a nuisance for everybody this year, but those who waited until 9/22 (when the DM entry form reappeared) ended up better off in the end.
  5. Things I shouldn't have to mention. Register. Confirm with US that your registration took effect. And for God's sake, don't call a partner (or put comments in your hotel reservation form) and alert them to a loophole.

What other practical, general advice should we record for posterity?

Last edited by beltway; Nov 9, 11 at 6:39 am Reason: updated item #1 to specify *retail partners*
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Old Nov 8, 11, 5:39 pm
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I would just add on to point number 1 regarding start early.

It is really beneficial to also set yourself up for the Grand Slam prior to the actual GS beginning. If you need to apply for a credit card, debit card etc... do it early so that your statement will close during the period. We had lots of people waiting until the last minute having to call up and try to change statement closing dates and hoping things would go through in time.

Sign up for E-rewards, e-miles as soon as possible so you aren't scrambling around trying to get miles near the end. Accumulate E-rewards throughout the year and get money banked in your account to get your hotel points for transfer ready for the GS next year.

Something I did this year which made things easier with some merchants was to add my kids as authorized users to my credit card so they could use cards in their own name to purchase items.

I'd also like to really thank beltway for all his hard work this GS. I think one important lesson we've learned for next year is to let him run things again .
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Old Nov 8, 11, 5:45 pm
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Originally Posted by bevoinva View Post
Sign up for E-rewards, e-miles as soon as possible so you aren't scrambling around trying to get miles near the end. Accumulate E-rewards throughout the year and get money banked in your account to get your hotel points for transfer ready for the GS next year.
Appropriately enough, I just added that same point in, seemingly right around the time you posted.

I'd also like to really thank beltway for all his hard work this GS. I think one important lesson we've learned for next year is to let him run things again .
Aw, shucks. I'd settle for people a) only starting meritorious threads and then b) committing to updating post #1 for the long haul. EDIT: Two people who stuck to it this year are rob_flies_ua (hotel transfers) and lowfareair (hotel stays).

While we're handing out thanks, I think San Diego 1K deserves much kudos for creating the sub-forum, as do our two remaining moderators for their work in keeping the undergrowth properly trimmed & pruned. (Heck, they get credit just for surviving. GS claimed 33% of the team this year.)

Last edited by beltway; Nov 8, 11 at 6:01 pm
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Old Nov 8, 11, 5:50 pm
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I believe e-Rewards only allows one transfer per quarter (can someone confirm this?). Therefore, it may be helpful to transfer once a while to hotel programs to bolster those accounts to help with hotel transfer hits. Of course, once it gets closer to GS time, it would be best to save those for the US GS hit.

Same thing with TopGuest - 50 points/day can really add up over a while and help with the lower threshold transfers (like BW or Choice 5000 points ... 100 check-ins over the course of a few months = free transfer if you don't stay at those chains). I didn't start hardcore TopGuesting until the GS and it helped me with my Hilton Transfer hit, but had I started last year, I could have saved $ with 2 other hotel transfers.

After a few weeks, I think vysean's great site GSScorecard.com will have useful data to see what hits take a while to post. These would be beneficial to study to see what should be done early.

Also, even though certain hits may have certain restrictions in terms of subscribing, it would be best to at least attempt miles-earning with them. For example, 21st Century said that one would get a hit for switching to them, but some people simply asked for a miles-earning quote and got the hit from that. They did it early and got the hit, while those who did it later may not be as lucky.

By the way, one hit that became expensive during the GS was the Buy Miles hit, because (1) the 100% bonus was only for the first 2 days of the GS and (2) the price per mile went up from about 2.95cpm after tax to over 3.7cpm in October. On the first day, I got 20K miles for $295, but today, the equivalent amount would cost $749! Obviously, if you were just going for the hit, it would be about $37.50 now for the minimum 1000 miles, but since I value US miles at about 1.4cpm, my 20K mile purchase hit was probably only about $15 extra, instead of $23 extra had I bought the 1000 miles today.

Lastly, beltway, you have been amazing with this year's GS sub-forum. Kudos! Although to save you some angst next year, I think Lesson #1 should be use the ******* search function!

Last edited by amolkold; Nov 8, 11 at 6:07 pm
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Old Nov 8, 11, 8:44 pm
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I'm just a first timer with this promo, but one of my takeaways was that it's sometimes best not to start early. There were several partners where the hits became cheaper, at least based on the best practices discussed here.

For example:
- When the promo started, folks were using the DFW airport run for Supershuttle for $10-13. It wasn't till a week later someone found the $4 PHX route.
- Lots of folks bought tickets thru Audience Rewards before it was discovered that trivia miles would count.
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Old Nov 8, 11, 8:48 pm
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Lessons learned from GS 11

Now that we are less than a week away from the end of GS 11, it may be a good idea to pause for a moment and sum up any lessons we have learned from the past two months. It can be helpful as a jumping off point for GS 12. I am a firm believer in not "reinventing the wheel."
Let me start by a bit of personal experience. This was my first GS, and I expect to get 36 hits and 1 insurance hit.
1. START EARLY / FINISH EARLY. Ask yourself what 100 (or 110) thousand miles are worth to you, and then budget your purchases with this holistic view in mind. Get your hits at the very beginning, and then relax. This is better than obssessing about whether or not each hit is "worth it". This will save you incredible amounts of time, and time is valuable. I thought a long time about whether I should do the Teleflora, for example. Finally, I just did it - after plenty of wasted time.
2. DON'T SPEND HOURS TRYING TO SAVE TWO DOLLARS
Yes, it's great to have a low CPM, but sometimes, we go a little crazy. Think of time expended in relation to the dollar or two you might save.
3. DON'T EXPECT MAJOR DEALS AND CHANGES TOWARD THE END
I often hesitated thinking that US Air would pull some rabbit out of its hat as November approached. This did not happen. Yes, there was a change in policy about Audience Rewards, allowing Trivia answers to count as hits, but considering some of the cheap tickets, that only ended up saving about 11 dollars. Similarly, not funding brokerage accounts is not really a savings at all, as they pay the same interest as your bank account. There were a few hotel transfer discounts toward the end (SPG) but they were balanced by the hotel transfer discounts expired early on. Similarly, the 100% bonus on purchasing miles the first two days of the GS proved to be a deal than many lost out on by not using, as miles are now much more expensive to purchase (I bought 10K and got 20K, and am glad I did).
4. MOST PROBLEMS ARE RESOLVED OVER TIME
Another advantage of an early start and early finish is that it gives time for problems to be resolved, either on their own or with a phone call to a hit sponsor. If you do find some sort of break early on, which is later eliminated, at least you will be "grandfathered in." Late starters/finishers can only say "I wish I had done that. This strategy tends to eliminate worry and save a lot of time. You see clearly in the first or second sweep what the problems are.
5. ASK QUESTIONS EARLY
If you have a special question (e.g. Hotel or car rental no-shows), ask it early, and as you are probably not the only one with that concern, you will probably receive a quick answer...then ACT.
6. PLAN A TRIP FOR SOMETIME IN THE PERIOD
Nothing gives you a chance to rack up hits as a trip (even a short, close one).
and finally...
7. THINK LATERALLY
I have four kids, and all have authorized user cards (which I keep). Yes, you can get authorized user AMEX cards for kids. Had I planned this from the beginning, I would have replicated my purchases so that I would have ended up with about 140,000 miles per child. That's what I intend to do next year. Set up separate email accounts for the kids, to prevent their own email accounts from being innundated, and use the same password for all purchases, memberships, etc. That keeps things nice and simple.
This "multiplier effect" can be used efficiently and to the greatest advantage.

Well that's my two cents. Please feel free to add your opinons and tips.
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Old Nov 8, 11, 8:53 pm
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8. DON'T ANGER beltway.
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Old Nov 8, 11, 8:53 pm
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Originally Posted by tommyleo View Post
8. Don't anger beltway.
lol

you might want to merge this here:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/2011-...ns-2012-a.html
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Old Nov 8, 11, 8:55 pm
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Let me add to your list:

8. DON'T START NEW THREADS FOR NO REASON!!

Take a couple of seconds to look to the other threads in the forum!! Chances are that there is a thread exactly like yours a couple of lines lower..! :
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Old Nov 8, 11, 8:59 pm
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As I wrote to Beltway....
"We both had this lessons learned idea about the same time. I was so busy writing mine, that I didn't check the site again, otherwise I would have seen yours."
No offense....you did a great job.
Larry
To those who jumped on me for providing my suggestions....
Suggestion No. 9....Give people the benefit of the doubt!
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Old Nov 8, 11, 8:59 pm
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Originally Posted by swag View Post
I'm just a first timer with this promo, but one of my takeaways was that it's sometimes best not to start early. There were several partners where the hits became cheaper, at least based on the best practices discussed here.

For example:
- When the promo started, folks were using the DFW airport run for Supershuttle for $10-13. It wasn't till a week later someone found the $4 PHX route.
- Lots of folks bought tickets thru Audience Rewards before it was discovered that trivia miles would count.
Hindsight is 20/20 but to me, the security of knowing your hits posted and that you're getting them out of the way are worth the $20 extra on these 2 hits. If anything, I saved much more money on hits that got more expensive later on to outweigh these $20. so I guess you win some, you lose some. It matters on what that security of having it done early is worth.

Last edited by amolkold; Nov 8, 11 at 9:05 pm
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Old Nov 8, 11, 9:25 pm
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Originally Posted by swag View Post
I'm just a first timer with this promo, but one of my takeaways was that it's sometimes best not to start early. There were several partners where the hits became cheaper, at least based on the best practices discussed here.

For example:
- When the promo started, folks were using the DFW airport run for Supershuttle for $10-13. It wasn't till a week later someone found the $4 PHX route.
- Lots of folks bought tickets thru Audience Rewards before it was discovered that trivia miles would count.
I'm not so sure about "several" partners, but I think there is a valuable principle here. I'd articulate it as "Don't start early with a partner where there is a significant new development." In the case of AR, that was the new feature of being able to accrue miles directly from trivia. As for the shuttle, I'm pretty sure PHX didn't work for some folks; more importantly, for 2012 I don't think there would be any reason (absent some add'l development) to go slow at first, since the crew this year seems to have mapped out enough options & relative success rates to enable a snap judgment next year as to which shuttle to "ride".
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Old Nov 8, 11, 9:42 pm
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Thanks Captain Obvious!
Anymore great tips like start early=finish early or doing multiple accounts yields more miles???

Someone delete this pointless thread.
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Old Nov 8, 11, 9:44 pm
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Originally Posted by bevoinva View Post
I'd also like to really thank beltway for all his hard work this GS. I think one important lesson we've learned for next year is to let him run things again .
I would absolutely like to second this. beltway's efforts have been amazing and personally, I've been able to accumulate more miles because of his hard work. THANK YOU, BELTWAY.

I would also agree with starting early. This was my first year with GS and I get to 28 hits. I was lucked out and got in early on what turned out to be some of the harder partners (OfficeMax, I'm looking at you). Being early gave me time to work it all out without being overly frantic about it.
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Old Nov 8, 11, 9:46 pm
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Give him a break and don't be a cyber bully.
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