I am delighted to report that my attempts to bribe you to participate in this year's annual fundraising have clearly borne some fruit. The rather dismal count of 65 supporters at the end of the first week more than trebled to 214 at the end of our second week. Thank you very much to the 149 extra readers who gave their support so generously.
In particular, special thanks have to be given to our latest group of 'super supporters' – Max L, Jonathan L, Rick C, Laszlo K (all the way from Hungary), Bill B, John M, Al K, Steve N, David C, Steve M, Phil A, Jeff K, Carl M, Tim L (a good honest Kiwi bloke), Leah M, Mike M, Leslie E, Bill D, and Mark S (who annually proves that even the most ardently left-wingers can also support my occasionally not-quite-so-left-of-center commentaries), and also to one 'super duper supporter' (yes, I need better names than this, don't I!) – John D.
Another supporter, who I'll discreetly refer to simply as 'O' is taking me literally when I say that I'll accept support in any form at all. Rather than mailing a check or electronically making a credit card contribution, or in some other way contributing something, he has taken out a share market 'put' in my name. Which airline did he choose to make this wager on? Actually, not an airline at all, but I won't say more for fear of influencing the outcome of this innovative way of supporting The Travel Insider.
And if the long time very generous supporter with the Paypal email address including the character string 'gbarton99' would please be as kind as to contact me, that would be tremendously appreciated.
However, to put our new total of 214 supporters into perspective, at this time last year, we had 474 supporters. So we're still a bit behind the power curve. Clearly, the thing for me to do is to 'double down' on the incentivizing, and so with that in mind, I've prepared a second special supporter only report.
You'll recall that last week I offered a special Buyer's Guide to iPad and Tablet type Computers, and this will still be provided to all people who offer even as little as $5 in support. Indeed, with Microsoft's surprising announcement earlier this week that it will have a Windows 7 based tablet on the market 'in time for the holiday shopping season', the buyer's guide becomes even more valuable and essential than it was this time last week. I've already made some minor revisions to it and will continue to update it as new products are announced and the marketplace continues its rapid evolution.
You can see the introduction to the buyer's guide here.
And so this week I'm adding a second special supporter only guide, this one being 'How to Choose the Best Hotel Frequent Guest program'. All people who have already responded will of course be sent a link to this new report as well (probably over the weekend) and all new supporters will get links to both article series.
This new series grew out of one of our readers kindly volunteering a multi-page analysis of three of the major hotel frequent guest programs, showing what was needed to earn and redeem points across all the different hotel types in the three programs. This was – and more to the point, still is – an amazingly convenient presentation that reveals some surprising hidden truths. All three programs start off as being seemingly similar and competitive at the entry level point, but as your earnings start to accrue, and as you start to consider cashing in more points for better/longer stays, things change enormously, and one program streaks past the others in terms of value. How much is this worth to you?
There's some useful good information in the free series introduction that you're of course welcome to read through carefully, such as whether to choose hotel points or airline miles for your stays, and then lots more in the complete subscriber-only series.
So how's that for a deal – three reasons to support The Travel Insider, hopefully each individually persuasive, and in combination, compelling. Oh – what's that you say? You can only count two – the Buyer's Guide to iPad/Tablets and the Hotel Frequent Guest program report?
Well, yes, but please don't forget the 5,000 – 10,000 words of everything else you get, every week, too! With your help, we are using the PBS model for publishing – for sure, it seems we offer 'premiums' or incentives to encourage you to participate now, but the main underlying theme is to keep the website and newsletter up and thriving. That's the third point that I urge you to respond to.
With us now within a couple of weeks of entering our tenth year, here's an interesting bit of relevant history. When I first started The Travel Insider, and for the year or so that followed, each week saw me writing a newsletter of about 750-1000 words and an article of similar length, and maintaining a small website of less than 100 pages. It was relatively easy to do that in my spare time and also earn some 'real' money doing other work concurrently.
Nowadays, I publish up to 10 blog entries a week, collate them into a newsletter, plus add anywhere from 1 to 10 web pages, and maintain a website that now has over 2000 pages of content on it. I'm writing anywhere from 5,000 – 10,000 words each week in addition to attending to all the other related aspects of what has become very much more than a 40 hr/week full time job. I can't accept other employment, because I have no remaining time to do so. Publishing The Travel Insider, in its various forms – tweets, blog entries, newsletters, and website articles – is my fulltime job. It is all I do, and more than that, it is all I have time to do.
And so, I am completely reliant on The Travel Insider to support me and in lesser part, my daughter too (although wealthy widows or single ladies who wish to take us under their wing are welcome to make themselves known).
To put it more directly, this site and everything you see/read/receive, is reliant on you and your annual reciprocity. Please do choose to become one of our supporters and help ensure the success of the next decade of The Travel Insider, the same as you have the first decade.
One last point. If you'd like an invoice showing your contribution as an annual subscription to make it easier to expense, I'm of course delighted to do so. If you have the ability to claim some amount for trade publications, why not consider a Travel Insider subscription as part of that.
And so with that impassioned plea, and at almost 2am, on with the rest of the week's goodies in the articles/links that follow.
Until next week, please enjoy safe travels.