Pay $39 and Travel for Nearly Free: The Missed Opportunity of My Recent Guide Launch

Link: Upgrade Unlocked

Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, our Unconventional Guides crew unveiled a new product to help people travel for less.


The launch went well, with hundreds of copies sold right away and hopefully many more to come. Most importantly, the initial customer base is loving it. We’ve been getting a ton of nice notes, like this one from Mirva, a globetrotting reader:

“I’m actually in Guadeloupe largely as a result of your 7-hour lecture on frequent flier miles that I watched online last year. It gave me a new way to travel for free, which was handy for a freelance journalist like myself. With my miles I flew to Dominican Republic for vacation this past January, met my French boyfriend there, and then flew with my miles to Guadeloupe to see him again (he lives here)… and now I’m staying at least until April!

I’m from Finland originally, and without the miles tricks it would be a whole lot harder to keep up this Guadeloupe-New York-Finland-France romance.” 🙂

Lie-flat seat in first class suite on Singapore Airlines Airbus A380


Kuramathi Island Resort in Rasdhoo Atoll, Maldives


Inflight showers with Emirates first class suite

Stories like Mirva’s are why our team spends months putting together products like Upgrade Unlocked. We want more of you to be able to experience these things!

However, a launch report that just says, “Oh, it was great” helps no one. Every process can be improved, so I always like to look at what didn’t go well.

In this case there was one clear problem: most customers bought the highest-priced guide by a very wide margin. For every 10 sales of the $97 product, there were just 3 sales of the $58 version, and 2 sales of the $39 version.

Why is this concerning? Higher prices equal more revenue, right? But stay with me. First, it’s important to understand why we offer more than one package for a guide like this.

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When producing a product that helps customers do something for themselves, having a range of options is better for at least two big reasons. It’s better for customers, and it’s better for business.

It’s better for customers because not everyone wants every tool or resource that we painstakingly create. Not everyone cares! And that’s okay. People have different needs and learn in different ways. They also have different budgets, which is another great version to provide a low-priced version—but that also brings us to the one big problem of this launch.

My concern is that a lot of people missed the real message of the guide: that luxury travel experiences are possible no matter your budget.

Our sense is that more people purchased the guide who were already on board with the general concepts of travel hacking. And that’s fine—might as well give them an updated, super snazzy field manual with a bunch of accompanying resources. It’s certainly worth the higher price.

BUT, that wasn’t actually the goal. The goal was to serve a broader range of people who were totally new—they liked the idea of travel hacking but really needed a helping hand to get started. For them, perhaps they don’t need the higher version. The $58 version or even the low-budget $39 version is great.

That’s why I think I failed (somewhat) in communicating the overall message. The overall message is: pay $39 and travel for nearly free!


Restaurant Car of Indian Luxury Train


Marina Bay Sands Infinity Pool in Singapore

The Message of Accessible Luxury

Thousands of people in our community are putting this message to good use. They are seeing the world (often in style) without going into debt, and without eating peanut butter sandwiches at the hostel every day. There’s nothing wrong with hostels—I’ve stayed in dozens of them all over the world—but there’s also nothing wrong with upgrading to a nicer place if you’re able.

If you saw this guide and were on the fence about the higher versions, don’t let me hard sell you. The budget version will serve your needs just fine. Starting at just $39, you can get a big head start on seeing the world and having experiences that would otherwise be too expensive.

Link: Upgrade Unlocked

And as I always try to say when introducing a new product, you don’t necessarily need to buy anything at all. With enough time and research you could do it all on your own. Or you could pay a small price for the six months of research that we’ve done—it’s up to you.

Happy travels,

Chris Guillebeau


Images: s.yume, Homedsgn, Simon, Gregory, NakedSky

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