Talking Points Podcast: What TPG and travel means to the TPG staff

Dec 25, 2019

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Happy holidays from everyone here at TPG. Today is Christmas day and on this episode of Talking Points, we’re getting into the spirit of the season by sharing what TPG and travel means to all of us here.

“One of the things about TPG that has really meant a lot to me is the way that it embodies opportunity and the ways in which so many people have these incredible travel aspirations, but they really don’t feel empowered to go out and make that happen and make that dream vacation a reality. And the way that TPG really just gives you the tools to make sure that you can go out and make the most of your travel experiences is something that I have really loved about working with this company,'” says TPG Analyst Austin Konkle.

TPG and travel means something a little different to everyone here, but one thing we can all agree on is that our main motivation for doing what we do is seeing all of the reader success stories. We’re here to help you travel smarter and we can only hope for more successes in 2020.

So what does TPG mean to you? Slide into our DMs at the Points Guy or leave us a voicemail on our podcast hotline 1-877-TPG-TRVL and let us know what you think. Has TPG made your life better, or what would you like to see at a TPG? Just be nice. It is the holidays.

You can play this episode of Talking Points above, or wherever you get your podcasts. Please make sure to subscribe, rate and review!

Feature photo by Patrick Fallon/The Points Guy.

Full Transcript: 

Brian Kelly:
Happy holidays from Talking Points. I’m your host, Brian Kelly, The Points Guy. It’s Christmas Day and whether you celebrate the holiday or not, we at the Points Guy are definitely festive during the holiday season and today we share why travel is meaningful — why it’s so important for human connection and discovery, why it bridges divides and helps us learn about what makes this world so special.

Brian Kelly:
So we thought it’d be fun to hear from staffers at TPG about why this place, TPG, is so important to us. And maybe, just maybe, get you to understand why we do what we do. Happy holidays from all of us at TPG, right after this.

Brian Kelly:
Welcome back to Talking Points, our holiday edition. We’re sharing the whys and hows TPG has been so helpful in 2019 and the years to come. Take a listen.

Benet Wilson:
This is Benet Wilson. I am TPG’s credit cards editor. Travel has been very special to me almost since I was born. I am the daughter and granddaughter of Air Force officers. I took my first plane ride when I was 6, from JFK to London Heathrow on a Pan Am Boeing 747. I’m showing my age here, but that was a time when you traveled, you dressed up. My sister and I had on hats, white gloves, little purses. Our cousins came to JFK to see us off and they were dressed up. And I remember boarding the plane and the captain allowed me to come up into the cockpit and we were sitting in the cockpit, showing me everything, and I said, “This is great. I would love to fly on this plane again.”

Benet Wilson:
And he looked at me and he’s like, “No, I want you to aspire to do more. I want you to actually fly this plane,” which started my whole aviation geek passion and travel passion. So I grew up in Europe. I was really blessed that I was able to travel everywhere. I became an aviation journalist and got to continue to travel the world. So it’s kind of a very personal thing for me.

Benet Wilson:
My call to you in 2020 is to save up your pennies and find a way to take that one trip anywhere you want to go.

Nicky Kelvin:
Hi, my name is Nicky Kelvin. I’m director of content for The Points Guy UK, and I’m with my very good friend …

Lori Zaino:
Hi, I’m Lori Zaino. I am a senior writer for The Points Guy and The Points Guy UK.

Nicky Kelvin:
So Lori and I had a very special trip together this year. Where did we go?

Lori Zaino:
We went to Israel.

Nicky Kelvin:
For like, it felt like it was quite long, actually.

Lori Zaino:
It felt like years. It was like really about 10 days, I think.

Nicky Kelvin:
Yeah, we felt like kids. And we made lots of content and we did lots of stuff and we thought we’d just talk through a couple of the places that we went and Lori is the queen of hotel reviews and we reviewed a few places. I’ve also stayed a few extra places, but some great points and miles options for staying in Israel. So if you want to have that fantastic experience, you can. Why don’t we talk about Jerusalem? The Waldorf.

Lori Zaino:
It’s a beautiful hotel. Unfortunately they don’t have a pool, but if it’s cooler weather, you should definitely stay there. Great points redemption and Jerusalem is beautiful. And I was very surprised that it’s actually only a very short trip away from Tel Aviv. You could make it a day trip but then you wouldn’t be able to stay at the Waldorf Astoria.

Nicky Kelvin:
I stayed at the King David and it was quite spectacular. It was the old … it was once the British headquarters when they had the Mandate in Palestine and it’s a very historical and cool hotel with a pool. So I liked it. But no points options.

Lori Zaino:
Absolutely. So Nicky, going into 2020, start of a new decade, what are your travel goals? Do you have any advice for travelers going into 2020?

Nicky Kelvin:
A travel goal of mine actually is, and you’ve made me think about this, is spend your points and miles. I am actually a hoarder and I need to get rid of them. I’ve got loads of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. I’ve got my eyes set on actually an ANA first-class redemption using those hard-to-get … but is possible. I think I’ve got over half a million miles wrapped up in different programs. I need to spend those babies.

Lori Zaino:
Attention: Nicky Kelvin is a points hoarder.

Nicky Kelvin:
Yeah. Not denying it. Actually, quickly, let’s talk about our best redemption of the year. I think you’ve got a good one and I’ve got one too.

Lori Zaino:
Have you spent any points this year, since you have so many?

Nicky Kelvin:
Have I spent points? Yes. I spent a big chunk on something really amazing.

Nicky Kelvin:
I had the best flight my entire life. Literally, I flew from Singapore to Zurich on the new Singapore Suites, so they fly the new Suites to Zurich every day. They fly one of the four flights a day to London, but it’s hard to get availability. And I was the only person in the Suites out of the six suites on this. A full crew just for me and they made me a big double bed up, gave me a double suite and it was best flight of my life. And I used 125,000 KrisFlyer miles transferred from Amex and 19 pounds tax and that also included a business-class connection from Bali to Singapore.

Lori Zaino:
Wow. I don’t know if mine tops that, but I used 70,000 American Advantage miles to fly on Qatar in business class to Thailand via Doha from Madrid and it was really incredible. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Qsuites, but I think their business class is phenomenal, regardless, and it was a very special experience.

Nicky Kelvin:
And that’s 2019 from dear Lori Zaino.

Lori Zaino:
And sweet Nicky Kelvin.

Melanie Lieberman:
This is Melanie Lieberman. I am the travel editor at the Points Guy and travel means so much to me. I’ve had the passion for traveling for as long as I can remember and probably even before that. And working at TPG has been amazing, because it lets me do all the things that I love. It lets me write and edit and travel. And I couldn’t be happier to work at a place surrounded by people who are also so passionate about travel and helping our readers travel smarter and get a better value for their points.

Melanie Lieberman:
For me, travel is all about connection. It’s about connecting with people from around the world who are more like you than you ever thought. And people you never thought you’d have the opportunity to meet and about staying connected with friends and family all over the world. In July, I went to Switzerland to visit friends who live in Basel, and next summer one of the only trips I have planned for 2020 so far is going to California for a friend’s wedding.

Melanie Lieberman:
I feel really fortunate to be alive at a time not only where I can be a woman working in the travel industry, but also to be a woman traveling around the world, to be in touch with friends and relatives. And to have people come and travel to see me too, so that’s pretty amazing.

Zach Griff:
Hey, guys, this is Zach Griff of Talking Points fame. You may remember me from the episodes that I was featured on helping answer your reader questions. I hope you guys have had a great 2019. For me, my travel highlight was definitely all the AvGeeky things that I’ve done this year. I reviewed Swiss first class on the flagship Boeing 777. I also got behind the scenes at both the Los Angeles and the Las Vegas airport, creating some awesome content and some mesmerizing time lapses for you guys to enjoy.

Zach Griff:
But the most meaningful trip that I took this year was to Ghana to attend the PeaceJam conference along with some other TPG employees. The smiles that we brought to the kids’ faces there have left an indelible mark on me. Happy holidays to all of you and safe travels.

Austin Konkle:
I’m Austin Konkle and I am an analyst here at the Points Guy. One of the things that TPG has really meant a lot to me is the way that it embodies opportunity and the ways in which so many people have these incredible travel aspirations, but they really don’t feel empowered to go out and make that happen and make that dream vacation a reality. And the way that TPG really just gives you the tools to make sure that you can go out and make the most of your travel experiences is something that I have really loved about working with this company.

Austin Konkle:
Really seeing those people go and make their dream a reality, seeing the photos, seeing the success stories and knowing that at some point I might get a chance to do that too. The ultimate goal of so many people here is really just to empower individuals to make the most of the time that they have on this earth and to see as much of it as they can.

Scott Mayerowitz:
I’m Scott Mayerowitz, the executive editorial director of The Points Guy, which is basically a fancy way of saying I’m the guy who sits and looks at all the stories and figures out what we have on our page. And I’m going to get a little deep and philosophical with you right now about travel. I really, really deep down think that travel is a great way to connect people, connect cultures.

Scott Mayerowitz:
You’re never going to go to war with the person who you really know well, or at least just randomly decide to attack that country. And I think more of us should understand other cultures. For me that often actually starts with food. I love hearing stories behind meals that are passed down from generations or have some big cultural consideration to them, but I also like history.

Scott Mayerowitz:
You don’t get a sense of World War I unless you head to the war fields in Belgium and really get sense of trench warfare, how bad things were, and learn from that about not repeating life’s mistakes. Now, I’ve gone off the deep end here for you today about why we should travel, but for each person it is individualized. There are trips where it’s just fun to go to Vegas with your friends, hang out at a club and that energizes a lot of people.

Scott Mayerowitz:
For me, I’ve got a really busy schedule at work and I love taking my wife and daughter off to resort — hopefully one that doesn’t have internet access or cellphone service — and just completely escaping, whether that’s up in the woods or on a tropical beach. And, I just find I get a better sense of who I am and get to reconnect with my family on those trips. So, it’s a really long way to say, get out there and travel.

Scott Mayerowitz:
At TPG, we’re all about the fancy trips, the first-class planes and the really awesome hotels and hopefully you use your points and miles to get great value that way. But at the same time, if you are in the back of the plane staying at some discount motel, you can find great ways to learn about other people, other cultures, even here in our own backyard in America. So 2020, here you go, pack a suitcase, keep it light and get out and meet people. Safe travels.

Caitlin Riddell:
This is Caitlin Riddell, the head of social media here at TPG. And travel to me means stepping outside of my comfort zone. I am from Tennessee and I actually didn’t know a lot of people who had really traveled outside the country when I was growing up. My parents have still never been outside the country, so it’s something I definitely considered more of a luxury and then when I learned about TPG, I realized it’s actually much more attainable than I ever thought.

Caitlin Riddell:
I love that travel lets you really experience new cultures and meet new people. I actually just got back from a trip to Paris with my brother and his family and we booked this incredible food tour through Chase’s travel portal. It was like three hours long and our guide was incredible and took us through all these little hidden neighborhoods of Paris that we never would have seen otherwise. We got to try incredible food and wine and just soak up all the fringe culture we could. Also being on the social media team, it’s awesome to get to see how TPG impacts everyone else’s travel.

Caitlin Riddell:
We have this weekly series that we do called the Reader Success Story, where we push out on Instagram each week and it’s so incredible to really see how travel and TPG has impacted so many people. We get stories of people taking honeymoons they never thought they could, or mother-daughter trips or things like that. It’s so cool and it’s really given them the opportunity to experience things and places they never thought they could.

Wallace Cotton:
This is Wallace Cotton. I am the community manager at TPG. Been here for three years, and to me TPG means giving people the ability to make their travel goals, dreams and other aspirations a reality. For me, I was able to do just that. I flew to Asia, to Hong Kong specifically, had never been there before.

Wallace Cotton:
A personal goal of mine on points in business class, something that for 10 years I thought I was only going to be able to do if I was a millionaire, but points and miles made it possible and it’s the good people that work here at TPG and elsewhere and those that follow us and within our community that makes that possible for me and for others.

Jill Bressler:
I’m Jill Bressler and I am the design lead for The Points Guy. I joined TPG so that I could be a part of a travel community and I could learn about ways to get to see more of the world using points and miles. Travel for me is a way to connect with people that are different from me. It’s a way to learn about other lifestyles, other places and explore what it means to be part of this greater global community.

Jill Bressler:
I love that experience of arriving in a country. You don’t speak the language, you don’t really know where to go and you kind of navigate by smiling, by stumbling your way through language, and having all these amazing experiences open up to you because, you know, you’re out having this amazing adventure.

Clint Henderson:
Hi everybody. I’m Clint Henderson. Merry Christmas. I am the new senior news editor at The Points Guy. TPG has meant the world to me. It’s one of the places I went when I became obsessed with travel in my early 30s and TPG taught me about miles and points and it went from a hobby to a passion, to a side project and now to my main career. And I couldn’t be happier to work here. I’ve been able to do some pretty amazing things with miles and points.

Clint Henderson:
I think I’ve been to eight or nine new countries in 2019. Flown over a hundred thousand miles. I’ve been able to book trips like business class to Tahiti using American Airlines miles. I’ve flown Japan Airlines first class, using miles. I’ve transferred points from Chase to Hyatt and stayed at the Park Hyatt in Sydney, one of the nicest hotels in the world. This hobby, this interest, has been enlightening. I’ve been able to see places I would never have been able to see without it.

Christian Kramer:
My name is Christian Kramer and I’m the general manager for The Points Guy UK. 2019 was a great year for me travel-wise. I’ve managed to tick off three destinations I’ve always wanted to visit and those were New Orleans, Bali and Iceland, and that’s something I want to continue doing in 2020. So for me, 2020 continue to see a couple of places I’ve not been to and I also want to try a wider range of airlines that I haven’t flown before.

Christian Kramer:
And that’s one of the great things about working here at TPG is that I can try different airlines, different ways of getting there, rather than just being loyal to the Oneworld alliance where historically I’ve done all of my flights.

Katherine Fan:
Hey, this is Katherine Fan. I’m the senior travel features reporter here at The Points Guy. One of my favorite experiences with The Points Guy this year was traveling to West Africa to Liberia to attend the PeaceJam conference there. I was able to learn from Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Leymah Gbowee and Kailash Satyarthi about ways in which we can all make a huge impact on our communities without a whole lot of money, experience. We just get up and just do it.

Zach Honig:
Hey, I am Zach Honig and I am editor-at-large at The Points Guy. I handle our daily newsletter, a whole bunch of fun special projects, and I am the host of Miles Away, which is going to return sometime very, very soon, hopefully in 2020. We’re just working on making it extra special, but today I am here to talk about why TPG and travel is meaningful to me.

Zach Honig:
I’ve struggled with wanderlust for my entire adult life. Probably kind of caught the travel bug, I’d say, sometime during my teens and I have just been searching for incredible destinations all around the world ever since. And just kind of building out my bucket list. It is never-ending and I’m sure I will not ever knock everything off, but it’s certainly my goal to just do as much exploring as I possibly can.

Zach Honig:
And so I had at the top of my list Cape Town, South Africa, and I was lucky enough to join a trip with PeaceJam, a charity that we support at The Points Guy, earlier in 2019. And I had a chance to go again this year to my top must-visit destination of Cape Town on the United inaugural flight from Newark. And so I really want to explore more of Africa, South America and Scandinavia and just make it back to Australia and New Zealand as often as I possibly can.

Zach Honig:
But I love connecting with the locals. I love exploring destinations. I love spending time outdoors. I also love to participate in charity trips whenever I can as an opportunity to give back. And so in addition to PeaceJam, I joined Norwegian and UNICEF, going to Chad in Africa in 2018, as well. And so I’m always on the lookout for opportunities to give back in that way too.

Madison Blancaflor:
Hey, my name is Madison Blancaflor and I am a credit cards reporter for TPG. Travel is about experiencing different cultures and meeting new people and better appreciating this world that we all share. I think it was Mark Twain who said that travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. And I agree. I think that the more that you travel, the more you start to recognize that these differences that so often divide us are actually not that insurmountable.

Madison Blancaflor:
I truly believe that travel is the great connector. I think that at the end of the day, it is the bridge that connects us with the rest of the world and that it’s irreplaceable, right? That these experiences that you have whenever you’re traveling, the people that you meet, the conversations that you have, all of that’s irreplaceable. And I’m just honestly so thankful to be a part of a team at TPG that not only encourages and inspires people to travel, but that also enables people to travel and to experience the world in a way that they may never knew was possible.

Brian Kelly:
Well, everyone, thanks for sharing those special moments. For me, TPG, I still pinch myself every day that I get to do this, not only as my job, but the fact that we now have over a hundred employees in the U.K., in the U.S., Austin, New York. I’m recording this from our beautiful new headquarters on Fifth Avenue and if you would have told me just under 10 years ago, this is where we would be reaching almost a hundred million readers a year, I would say that you are crazy.

Brian Kelly:
So what TPG means to me is being able to help people. So we help our millions of readers save money, travel more, get to see their families and we also do a lot of charity work and this year at The Points Guy, we raised a significant amount of money for Rainbow Railroad where we’ve been able to help LGBTQ people around the world who have been persecuted and are at risk of imprisonment or even death. We’ve been able to save them and fly them to safety and use travel as a means of peace.

Brian Kelly:
I’ve also been really fortunate to be taking the PeaceJam program around the world. So at The Points Guy, we sponsor this program, which is peace education for high schoolers around the world. We bring Nobel Peace Prize winners to kids and they learn how to make their communities better by learning through the teachings of the Nobel laureates. So, at TPG we sponsor this program in Guatemala, Ghana, Liberia, South Africa and East Timor.

Brian Kelly:
Sometimes the world seems like it’s upside-down and we have no hope. But I can tell you what, working with young people who have the power and the energy to change this world, they will. So it gives me hope, seeing young people take action into their own hands to make the world a better place. So that’s what TPG means to me. I’m excited for a 2020 that’s going to be filled with a lot of new things like our app, which I have currently on my phone and it’s amazing. I can’t wait to roll it out to all of you amongst many other cool surprises. So stay tuned for more. Until then, enjoy the holidays, everyone. Safe travels.

Brian Kelly:
So what does TPG mean to you? Slide into our DMs at The Points Guy, or leave us a voicemail on our podcast hotline, 1-877-TPG- TRVL, and let me know what you think. Has TPG made your life better, or what would you like to see at a TPG? Just be nice. It’s the holidays.

Brian Kelly:
Thanks to my amazing assistant, Christie Matsui, to Scott Mayerowitz on our editorial team. And as always, thanks to our podcast producers, Margaret Kelly and Caroline Schagrin. Happy holidays from all of us at TPG. I’m Brian Kelly. Safe travels.

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