When I return from a trip and begin flooding social media (follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) with photos from our trips, it never fails that someone asks me, “How do you find these amazing deals?”
Like many of you, I love finding great deals, but it’s hard. Sometimes I’d stumble across one or find a convoluted itinerary. Other times I’d search Flyertalk or Milepoint but that is often confusing, can you decipher this?
Do you want to?
I hate to say it, but travel blogs like mine are probably the slowest method of pursuing exceptional and limited deals. Before I post, purely as a method of research, of course, I purchase any tickets I intend on buying, take the process all the way through to a completed sale, then write it up and alert friends and readers on the blog and social media afterward. In the tight window of a mistake fare that may last an hour, my post will often go live about the same time as everything useful has been booked or the fare is gone.
When I came across DealRay, the service looked like a perfect solution. Instead of spending my time hunting on Flyertalk, scouring the blogs or decoding travel hacker speak, I could go about my life and would get an SMS when a deal came around. That’s a service worth paying for. It allows you to get in on the deal but does all of the work in finding them. In my case, it gave me hours of free time every week back.
I wanted to try the service and found a free trial code that gave me the first month free to evaluate how the service works. All subscribers have their own code to give out to friends and family that will also give a free one month trial to new users and awards one month for the referrer.
The first deal came through and it wasn’t for me. The flights were on the wrong coast (I am based in Pittsburgh and prefer deals that originate close to the east coast) and it would have been too difficult to make it work in a year with a LOT of trips and limited time to get away. I passed.
The second deal for which I got an alert was for some Spirit Air fares and Frontier deals where flights were less than $30 one way. I again didn’t see anything of interest there, and I was less interested in those carriers but was also pleased to see that any deal where you can fly for less than $60 round trip is worth me exploring.
The third deal that came during my trial month was exceptional, perfect, all I could have hoped for! Flights on US Airways (I needed some flights on American Airlines or US Airways to re-qualify for Executive Platinum status) from Philadelphia (close enough to home) and long haul (to Denmark) for $144.
I would have booked half a dozen of these flights. But in order for DealRay to work, you have to have to pay attention to your text messages. By the time I noticed this one it was gone. It wasn’t DealRay’s fault, but it was gone all the same.
My wife was staying out of town, it was about a quarter to midnight and I was turning in. I got a text message from DealRay and immediately jumped onto my computer. The alert was perfect for me.
“Washington DC to Beijing, China on American May-June in Business Class for $400-450”
The departure city was some place we could book without thinking because even if I couldn’t get a positioning flight on US Airways into DCA, I could drive as it is only four hours away from Pittsburgh. We had a couple of open weekends and nothing planned for labor day. It was also on an airline where we could apply system-wide upgrades to move to first, earn status and re-qualify for next year, and the booked class was business which has tons of bonuses this year.
The deal would soon be all over the internet, but I had the jump before the blogs posted it. I got notified by someone’s twitter feed an hour after I had already ticketed two trips and by then the deal was dead anyway.
Last year I took two trips to the far east to re-qualify for Executive Platinum status with American, that were purely to earn status. One was to Hong Kong and the other to Bangkok. I took very long mileage runs because I could get them out of the way over just two weekends (and a day or two off from work) instead of mileage running every weekend for a month and half like I did the year previous.
DealRay gave me the jump on this deal, and I wouldn’t have seen it. I would have booked the same way I did the year before and for tickets that were convenient for me, I would probably have paid $900 for each of two tickets (in coach and used my upgrades to fly business) and earned about 32,000 miles for the flights. Instead I flew in paid business on one trip and upgraded to first from business on the other. I earned over 50,000 miles from each trip each, enough for a business class award back to Asia. Most important to me though, was being able to qualify while flying business and earning 64,000 EQPs on just two long weekend trips for $1300.
The deal saved me more than just $500 though (between what I would have spent to mileage run vs. what I spent on the deal). It also gave me 40,000 more miles because it was a business class fare. That’s worth at least another $800 to me. Had I been a quicker draw and landed that $144 fare to Europe from Philadelphia it might have saved me even more money.
The deal I booked to Beijing was so good, that I was able to secure seats on the same flights for my wife and a fully paid ticket for my infant daughter because it was cheaper than booking her a lap infant ticket.
DealRay has also alerted me to hotel deals, but I have yet to take advantage of any of those. I am much more apt to secure a flight deal than book a mistake hotel stay mostly because there aren’t a great deal of consumer protections in place. If the deal was something truly amazing like the Park Hyatt Tokyo for $38/night I might plan a trip around that experience, but it seems like hotels can much easier get around their commitments to customers in the event of a mistake than airlines.
One of the best things about DealRay is the lack of filler. I may go a week or two without a text from DealRay and that’s fine. I don’t want garbage. I know that mistakes don’t happen on a consistent basis and that’s okay because when I land one it’s worth it.
The service is not free, it costs $9.99/month but there is a way to make it free by inviting your friends. For every friend that signs up and pays their first month you get a month free. I reached out to DealRay Founder and CEO, Dan Kohn, and he offered an exclusive, limited time benefit for UPGRD readers: two free months of DealRay membership if you join before July 31st. Sign up with the link below to get the exclusive two free months offer:
There is no better deal available to try their service than this two month free trial, so I suggest you take advantage and try it out.
When you do, set aside a couple of hundred dollars so that you can take advantage of a deal that comes along. It’s pointless to know about the deals and not get one. Have your finger on the trigger, ready to fire when you see something that works for you.
I signed up for my free trial and kept the service once I was billed. It’s one of my travel tools that makes my life easier. It saves me a ton of time in hunting for deals because they come to me. It saves me a ton of money by alerting me before deals are dead and reaching me in a way that I am almost always sure to notice.
Mitch Lipka of Reuters asked me about my secret weapon for booking great deals, DealRay was the one I liked the best… as I spoke with him from the 43rd floor in the Park Hyatt Beijing.
Here is that signup link again for two free months of the service to start you off but you should jump on that right away, the free two-month offer expires on July 31st!
How do you find great deals? Have you tried Dealray?