TPG’s longest staffers celebrate 10 years of points, miles and travel

Jul 2, 2020

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It’s hard to believe The Points Guy is celebrating 10 years!

On June 7, 2010, Brian Kelly wrote his first blog post for The Points Guy, while working a corporate job at Morgan Stanley. In the decade since, you, the readers, have followed along as he left that role to devote all his time to The Points Guy, hired dozens of the brightest minds in points, travel and aviation and assembled a team of tech and data experts.

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But to fully appreciate the anniversary, it’s important to hear from the TPG staffers who have been here from the beginning. This has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Related: The Points Guy turns 10

Brian Kelly, The Points Guy

It’s kind of funny that I started this website from my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with a hope and a dream of helping people travel. It was June 2010 and the economy had just started to turn around after the great recession. Even though I never lost my job, I was always able to travel really well thanks to my points and my friends and family members were always like, “how do you do that?”

That’s why I started The Points Guy to help get people traveling again, especially those who didn’t have the financial resources to do it. Because I don’t believe that travel is just for the ultra-wealthy. In fact, I don’t even think first class is, I love seeing and hearing from our readers who are hardworking everyday people who have been able to achieve incredible, incredible experiences because of their miles and points.

I want to travel to be more meaningful. I want to continue using travel to help others, like we do with Rainbow Railroad and Peace Jam. I’m so proud of the fact that we’ve raised $4 million for amazing charities and hope that we can greatly increase that over the next 10 years. So, you know, the future of TPG will still be content, but it’s also going to be technology and getting our app out later this year, to help people maximize everything about their points of miles and travel and to get them the right content. So I’m so proud of the team and where we’ve grown.

Related: Reader around-the-world success story

Kate O’Brien, Director of Business Development

Seeing TPG hit its 10th anniversary is amazing, and I feel so lucky to have been along for the wild ride from the beginning.

Although I officially started working for TPG eight years ago, Brian and I are first cousins, and he had sent our family prototypes of the original website that I was able to weigh in on. I could have never imagined that his award booking idea would evolve into what the business is today.

In the early days, we worked out of Brian’s West Village apartment where I got to have a hand in a bit of everything like writing posts, filming content for the site, managing all of Brian’s travel and most importantly taking care of the newest TPG family member Miles, the French Bulldog when Brian went out of town.

Being such a small team for years forced us to be scrappy and allowed me to gain experience in all aspects of the business while also getting to take amazing trips – truly a dream for a recent college grad! I’m so proud of what we have built – we have grown an incredible team of 100+ employees, expanded our audience across several different channels, and continue to evolve the brand and our unique offerings each day. All the while, we are having FUN doing it, and I’m so excited to see what we can accomplish in the next ten years!

Zach Honig, Editor-at-Large

I can’t believe it’s been ten years! I’ve been with TPG for more than half of that time, having joined as editor-in-chief in April 2015. It’s hard to believe there were just five employees at the time: Founder and CEO Brian Kelly; Kate O’Brien, our director of business development; Leigh Rowan, our former COO, and Ryan Gaines, our news manager at the time.

The five of us shared a tiny WeWork office, and worked day in and out to build the team. Since then, we’ve seen tremendous growth, with an editorial team I could never have dreamed of five years ago, and some of the world’s greatest minds in social media, video production, marketing, product development, and SEO. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel the world many times over, flying in incredible first-class suites scoring four nights on a private island in the Philippines, and even flying 333,000 miles in a single year, all thanks to TPG!

Emily McNutt, Global News Editor

When I think of The Points Guy as the blog when I first started versus the travel company that we are now, I can’t help but feel proud. We’ve grown from a single-person blog to a one-hundred-plus person organization, bringing together some of the brightest minds in travel and aviation journalism, design, marketing, business development and more.

I’ve been especially proud of how the team has continuously adapted to the ever-changing travel landscape but staying true to our core of helping people to travel in ways they never thought possible. If you would have told me five years ago — when I first started at TPG — that the company would be what it is today, I don’t think I’d recognize it. And that’s in the best way possible.

To put it in perspective, more than a year ago, I moved to London to help with the launch of TPG UK, our first-ever international outpost. From a single WeWork space in lower Manhattan that could barely fit our team of six to now an international brand, it’s something to be proud of. It’s important never to forget where the site was (like my first-ever story!) and what got it to the point we’re at now. And in between hundreds of thousands of miles flown, hundreds of nights in hotels and away from home and learning the ins and outs of loyalty programs and credit cards, I’ve managed to make some great friends and memories because of TPG. And, of course, none of that would be possible without the millions of people who read TPG every day. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Nick Ellis, Travel Editor

When I started at TPG as an intern over four years ago, I could have never imagined that we would have grown from a single WeWork space with just one minifridge and a few desks to a travel brand with offices on both sides of the Atlantic with 100 employees.

As TPG celebrates its first decade, it’s amazing to see the transformation from a blog that published eight stories a day to a multimedia brand that has become the authoritative voice in the travel industry. Some of my fondest memories have been the incredible travel experiences I’ve had — like my first official TPG trip to Dakar, Senegal, while I was an intern. But what’s been even better is to have had the chance to work with such a great group of people who all share a passion for travel, and for helping others do it better and for less money.

(Photo by Nicholas Ellis/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

I’ve had the chance to learn from some of the sharpest minds in the travel world, not just about points, miles and credit cards, but also about the world and all the different people who inhabit it. As The Points Guy goes into its 11th, I can’t wait to witness another transformation of this brand into one that will provide each and every traveler the resources they need to travel smarter, longer and cheaper. We couldn’t have gotten here without all of you, and get ready to come along on the journey of the next decade of TPG!

Katie Genter, Writer

Although my first anniversary as a full-time employee with TPG will occur later this June, my first article as a freelance contributor with TPG published in Nov. 2015: an economy review of a British Airways flight from London to Austin, TX.

In looking for a photo from late 2015 for this story, I rediscovered many photos from my travels around the time I started writing for TPG. It’s amazing how differently I travel now, as well as how much I’ve learned about points, miles, credit cards and elite status since 2015. But, like me, TPG has also evolved and grown significantly since 2015. The company jumped from a handful of full-time staff to over 100 full-time employees, hired some excellent editorial staff and has transitioned from a blog into a news and travel website.

Some of my best TPG memories resulted from spur of the moment decisions that probably wouldn’t happen in today’s TPG — or at least wouldn’t happen quite so easily. For example, back in 2017, TPG had me on a plane less than 24 hours after the Middle East electronics ban was announced to get someone in the Middle East to experience first hand how the ban would be implemented. And, during a visit to the TPG office in late 2018, TPG decided to book me a stay at the Park Hyatt Beijing three nights later simply to see whether I’d get elite earning on an Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts stay that was booked online. Plus, we can’t forget flying as an AirMule in early 2018. The willingness to do crazy things for the story is part of what built TPG into a successful brand.

To me, TPG’s 10-year anniversary marks a move toward more personalized content, the release of the TPG app later this year, and a renewed focus on not only helping users earn miles but also spend miles. On a personal note, I’ll be shifting my focus at TPG from credit cards to points and miles — and am excited for the opportunity to go deep on some programs and uncover new sweet spots. Combined with the TPG app, I hope TPG will be able to improve the redemption and travel experience for many travelers.

Nick Ewen, Points Lab Editor

It’s simply amazing to be celebrating 10 years of The Points Guy. As a road warrior, I started reading the site in 2010 and quickly found immense value from the strategies to maximize points and miles. When Brian announced that TPG was looking for contributors, I jumped at the opportunity, and I’ll never forget giddily reading my first, published post — on how to double-dip with Hilton HHonors (an option that’s since been removed, along with the second H in the program’s name).

Nick Ewen with new baby in Iceland's Blue Lagoon in 2015.
Nick Ewen with new baby in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon in 2015.


I’m thrilled to still be a part of the company, now as a full-time member of the editorial team. It’s been incredible to see the site grow and adapt over the years — with new team members, exciting initiatives, yet a maintained focus on our shared love of travel. More importantly, I am beyond excited for what’s still to come over the next 10 years (and beyond).

Nick Ewen on his 5th anniversary at the Hilton Labriz in the Seychelles.


Featured photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy.

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