Welcome to a new Sunday series that will be a bit like a “fireside chat”. I count it a privilege to be a part of an amazing group of Travel bloggers here at BoardingArea. But just how well do you know “your” BoardingArea writers? Are you reading all the blogs you should be each day? This series will help you get to know them one by one.
To start this brand new series on Delta Points I thought it would be fun to chat with Randy Petersen the founder of BoardingArea.com and get to know him since it is because of him you are reading any of this at “BA”.
Rene – Hi Randy, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. So BoardingArea. After so many successful other ventures like FlyerTalk and others, why BoardingArea?
Randy – Trust me, I’ve been lucky. Likely a few things: 1) my inert desire to keep paying things forward and I often cite how InsideFlyer paid for FlyerTalk which paid for BoardingArea which paid for Milepoint and Milepoint will pay for something else (hint—soon!). 2) I’ve also long been a student of the road warrior / frequent flyer and because of the time I spend online, I have been lucky enough to see the trees before many see the forest. I noticed eight or nine years ago how a growing number of online road warriors / frequent flyers were seeking out the advice and opinions of specific people — well before there was such a thing as “Follow”, “Friend” or even the more popular concept of today’s blogging and I believed it was because they liked the way that individual gave advice, even when it was buried within an online thread or when it was an answer over three or more different posts. I also noticed that more and more online forum followers were giving up on following popular threads because of info overload and also the distraction of a typical thread. I had written a blog for the first DO on FlyerTalk in 1999 and loved the concept (even though we had to code/create our own blogging platform) and decided that maybe this weblog (at the time) might be a way to provide more precise info for the road warrior / frequent flyer—thus the idea to go all in with a concept like BoardingArea. Like everything else I have started, literally everyone told me to get real and go home. I think that today’s bloggers are like those that are most helpful in a typical thread in any online travel forum, but better for the reader in that there is less distraction but still interaction via the comments. 3) The success of many online forums is the wisdom of the crowd. I decided that blogging was really a lonely activity in the world of the web (this is 1999 talking … not 2013) and perhaps some of the same principles would apply to a common community of bloggers in that they could share experiences, motivation, failure and frustration and as well learn from each other how to be successful.
Rene – What do you think of this collection of people blogging for BoardingArea and why did you pick each one? Do they have something that other bloggers don’t?
Randy – Tricky question to answer but the collection we see today are a blend of risk taking (really, years ago would you put car keys in the hand of a college sophomore named lucky?), support (one of my proudest moments was introducing the original three female bloggers at the same time: Carol, Sarah and Grace), mistakes (PointsWizard and likely others to come), pride (growth of blogs like Mommy, Hack, Miler and Martini’s), disappointment (What, I really can’t host 287 bloggers that are interested in BoardingArea?), admiration and wonderful respect (View, Wandering, Rapid, Deals, Jeffsetter, MaltaPoints), parenting (CanadianKilometers), enthusiam (MichaelW, Rene, Bobby), visual matters (ModHop), the future (Adam), the beat of a different drum (Travis), one of the most inqusitive and wonderful people ever to chat with and I want so much for his blog to succeed (Tim), admire the student in their approach—wanting to learn and willing to step back and rethink (New Girl), cruises matter and so does dedication (MJ), do one thing and do it extremely well (Ric, Charlie), storytelling par excellence (Pixie), I think they could be the next big thing (Heels, FlyAndDine), build it and they will come and then keep building (Troy), we’re both commited to working on it until it works (Darren, Wild)), working it like there is no tomorrow (Angelina), the next big break is around the corner post (Fish), niches that caught me at hello (Military Flyer, GhettoIFE), I like the way they think and write (MilesQuest, CanadianSteve, Parag), almost there (Skeptical), I will host them until the day I die (Blighty), people don’t know what they are missing but I do and they are poised for breakout (AJ), sooooo close (Mike). (I sincerely hope I did not forget anyone).
Rene – What should readers expect from BoardingArea over the next year or two. What changes, if any, are on the way and what is next from Randy?
Randy – For BoardingArea, likely some unique changes. I’m working on ideas of how to best still help the neophyte blogger, someone that has an idea and needs help beyond a basic hosting on Blogger or WordPress. AND how best to balance those bloggers with the most established bloggers. It’s a real challenge and we certainly have some ideas for that. We may create sub-brands to provide those types of services. As well, I’ve talked about brand extension and as I announced at BAcon, we have an idea to create a book from a blog series that Greg did on Frequent Miles. That is currently in progress. The two things keeping me up at night right now are 1) how to identify and help those bloggers we believe have a chance at breaking through and becoming the next ‘rising star’. It’s a crowded field of bloggers regardless of BoardingArea and I think we need a program to help those caliber of bloggers and 2) How best to manage technology. We have some bloggers that need help once every three months and others that seem to need help daily. How best to manage those types of needs and as well how best to manage the challenges of changing technologies. Plug-ins don’t always work all the time, feeds don’t always work all the time, WordPress doesn’t always work all the time and the Internet itself doesn’t always work all the time and so I’m challenged to sleeplessness on how best to make it appear to work when the odds are against us!
As for me? I’m seriously interested in global domination (!) and you’ll see a continued effort by me to direct ideas toward that goal. You see on BoardingArea my interest to support and grow local language blogs around the globe for road warriors / frequent flyers and you’ll see some of those same efforts played out with my other interests such as Milepoint. But my totally largest interest right now is a new project that is 18 months late in launch right now and while getting closer, still won’t launch tomorrow. It’s code name is RoomExpert. I’d say once I get this new baby launched I’m comfortable that the footprint is there for everything I’ve always wanted (including LaunchPoint) and then it’s time to simply make sure each has the attention and tools and support needed to grow its potential. While I’m more concerned with quality on BoardingArea than quantity, I’m also willing to take some risks with some new faces and new ideas (and reminded from time to time that maybe they aren’t always great!) and so it is likely that BoardingArea as an enterprise will have nearly 75 bloggers a year from now, but not all in the format you currently know BoardingArea to be. But please, no cause for alarm as I think you have come to know, I’m extremely loyal to the bloggers we have right now and BoardingArea alternates between my number 1 and 2 priorities and it never falls below that and any staff member at the House of Miles would certainly validate that from their own observations. For me, I’m in a really good place right now— I’m becoming known for BoardingArea just as I used to be known for FlyerTalk and I like that.
Rene – So much exciting stuff. Let’s say this is a readers first ever visit to BoardingArea, is there one thing you want a reader to have learned from their visit?
Randy – Three things: 1) something they did not know; 2) something that changed their mind about something they thought they knew; and 3) that different bloggers have different ideas about the same topic and it’s a good idea to read more than one blog to find out which of the ideas best fits your personal interest in the topic.
I want to thank Randy so much for taking the time for us to get to know the mind behind the site we all enjoy so much. I hope you make the time to come back each week for the next year or so to find out more about all of the BoardingArea bloggers and what makes them who they are!- René