Behind the Scenes of the Travel Hacking Cartel


Greetings from Singapore, where I’m in transit and decided to write the first Sunday Store Update in a while.

If you’re new to AONC, I use this space some weekends to write about the business side of our community. Regular articles appear (without fail) every Monday and Thursday.

Two months ago, I launched the Travel Hacking Cartel, my first business project of 2011. I wanted to make a video showing everyone how the Cartel works, as well as the behind-the-scenes features that bring everything together.

If you don’t care about travel hacking or business development, you can safely skip this update. Otherwise, check out the video to learn more, including the “insiders only” member site we’ve built –

How It Works

The main service of the Cartel is to keep our users informed of the latest in travel hacking. You can do some of this on your own, of course, but we track more than 170 blogs, websites, forums, and newsletters to make sure we only publish the best offers. At a cost of $15-39 a month depending on which level you want (First Class, Business Class, or Economy), our users find this a good value.

Our commitment is to provide at least 3-5 good Deal Alerts each month, but so far we’ve published much more. Some of the highlights have included:

  • Free elite status with Marriott, Priority Club, and Air France/KLM
  • $100 discounts on Southwest Airlines Vacations
  • $50 discounts on almost any Lufthansa flight
  • Up to 25,000 Marriott Rewards points just for referring new members
  • Offers specifically for Canadians and Europeans

Not every offer works for everyone, of course, but as members monitor the deals and take action on the ones that look good to them, they’re rapidly earning lots of miles, gaining free elite status, and picking up tips as they go along.

Business-wise, we created a custom solution for almost everything associated with the project. By “we” I mostly mean Reese and Nicky, my superstar designer and genius developer. Nicky built a custom affiliate program and referral program that pays our users 500 miles per referral. Reese created a nice design and layout for both the public site and the member site, which you can see in the video. The billing and payment processing is also custom, as is the whole member site and the new Cartel Community where members can create profiles and earn badges.

Most importantly, we’ve tried to make it very easy for new travel hackers to get oriented and start earning tons of miles. With the world’s greatest guarantee of four plane tickets a year, we’re backing up our claim of successful travel hacking for members all over the world.

Launch + Post-launch

The initial response was great—thousands of people signed on for the 14-day trial, with more joining every day. Retention is always a big issue with any recurring billing offer, and I’m pleased that we’ve kept more than 70% of members thus far. Since some people will always join an offer to see what it’s like and then immediately opt-out, 70%+ is pretty good.

As mentioned right after the launch, my goal for this project is that it will continue to grow on its own, without my direct intervention all the time—that’s why I haven’t said much about it on AONC. Once in a while I’ll post an update here on some of the deals our members are taking advantage of, but the long-term growth will come mostly through word-of-mouth.

So far, so good. If you didn’t join at the launch, the 14-day, $1 trial is still available. Check it out below if you’d like to learn how to be a travel hacker.

–>Travel Hacking Cartel $1 trial offer

Otherwise, thanks for reading AONC. This week I’ve been in East Timor, my first new country of March and also the world’s newest country. I’ll be headed home shortly for an extended time of book-writing and preparing for the World Domination Summit.

Wherever you are, I hope all is well in your part of the world.

– Chris


Subscribe now and you’ll get the best posts of all time.