An old boss once said, “Unless you start a project with clear objectives, goals and rules – you’ll never get anywhere.” He wasn’t wrong.
Mainly Miles has been a collaboration effort from the beginning, although admittedly Andrew spends far more timing writing than Eddie ever does (lazy), and as we’ve travelled together for many years we have a pretty solid foundation of common ground. In the beginning there seemed little point in setting down hard rules or even sharing our motivation and internalised processes with our readers.
But we have grown. And grown much, much faster than we had anticipated. Total article views reached over 100,000 in less than 5 months. At the time we were astounded, but we now achieve that total every 3 weeks.
In October alone the view count hit just under 130,000, with the site reaching a new record of 11,400 views from over 8,000 visitors in a single day!
We have received warm, genuine feedback and interactions with our readership that has surprised us both; we aren’t alone as premium travel addicted aviation enthusiasts.
As with all feedback, not all can be positive. Thankfully we are thick-skinned from our 20 years of working in the industry. Some of the accusations were true – perhaps some of our findings do fall under the “first world problems” category, but we feel that being honest is important. Some of the other accusations were not true – we certainly weren’t paid to say nice things – and actually our reviews are rarely ever a solid wall of compliments, for which we have also taken a fair amount of flack.
So that’s how this article spawned – this is us, Mainly Miles, sharing with you, our readers, the rules by which we will “live and die”. Moreover, these will act as rules which we use as a “check and balance” to ensure we stay true to our word.
Our tag line – Expert, Unbiased, Independent
A significant amount of discussion was had in the Mainly Miles office (alongside a significant amount of wine) when it was suggested that we condense our objectives into a short tag line. As you may have seen from some of our reviews (that occasionally spill over the 7,000 word boundary!) we are not men of few words.
We generated a list of words. Some felt obvious, some felt empty and others felt aspirational. We chose words that resonated with us as professionals. They represented what frustrated us in some other blogs (yes, we read other blogs!). They also felt possible to abide by even with our growing readership. Most importantly they are words that will challenge us in the future and sticking to them will keep us on the “straight and narrow”.
It is a little difficult to write about this. We have mentioned a few times that we are both industry professionals. Regular readers will also notice that we don’t ever show our faces in our photos.
We believe that the key feature of any good review is being representative of the experience a reader would receive.
Sure, we could pull in thousands more views if we became recognised faces but realistically – companies aren’t living in the dark ages anymore. They are tagging individuals of influence. Heck, they are even hunting them down and paying them on a case-by-case basis to review their products. Believe us when we say we’ve seen passenger lists with names highlighted as “VIP” because they are bloggers with 10,000 Instagram followers. You may not like it but that’s how the game is now played.
Once you are recognised, spotted and targeted, the service you receive is not representative of what your “average Joe” experiences and therefore, frankly, your review becomes less relevant.
Suffice to say that our experience in both a professional and leisure context gives us a good viewpoint from which to assess the moves of the industry.
Do you remember your first flight in a premium cabin? Wasn’t it the best thing since sliced bread? Yes? Well there you go, the more you fly, the more you can dampen out the hype and notice the actual details that matter.
And by goodness we’ve done a lot of flying – more than 100,000km flown each per year!
Whilst our speciality remains, unapologetically, Singapore Airlines – please don’t mistake this as a weakness. We’ve both travelled the world with all sorts of weird and wonderful airlines (some not so wonderful!) but our base happens to be Singapore. This means that the lion’s share of our flying occurs with the national carrier. That said, we actively pursue other products on the market, especially those that are shiny, new and elusive – even if it means flying halfway around the world and laying over for 6 hours just to try it.
Even when discussing Singapore Airlines, KrisFlyer and associated topics, regular readers will see that we aren’t always their poster boys. Over the years there has been a lot of good; but there has also been a fair share of bad.
A perfect example is “Suites Class”. We adore the original 2006 suite. It was every bit as good as we expected and maybe more. Even now, every time we fly ‘old’ Suites, it appears special, ground-breaking and clever. In stark contrast we were disappointed by the new Suite and – trust me – we really wanted to love it.
Internally we have had many discussions over the difference between what is “fair” and what is “right”. Instead we have decided that the correct words that should be used to describe any judgement are “Unbiased” and “Just”. That means comparison without the rose tinted glasses. If the flight was great and we loved product but there was jam all over the seat control (yes, it actually happened to us) then we are going to tell you.
We are going to make you, the readership, a promise. Whilst browsing the web have you ever seen the little tag line – “Sponsored Post”? Don’t worry, you’ve never seen it here. And right here, right now, we are making a solemn promise… you never will.
How can we make this promise? It is quite simple. We didn’t create Mainly Miles to make money. We aren’t unhappy with our current jobs. We also didn’t adjust our lifestyles in order to see and do the things we wanted to write about. Quite simply, the only change we made was that we write about what we are doing.
That doesn’t mean we are against promoting products we like and find useful, but no matter what anyone claims it’s impossible to be totally impartial about a topic you are being remunerated to write about by a commercial entity.
If you read a positive article about a product on Mainly Miles, it’s because we like it, and probably use it ourselves, never because we are asked to or paid to.
That’s not to say we think we are ‘better’ than blogs and sites who run sponsored posts, or whose key goal is monetisation. We just have a different approach.
You may notice adverts on our website. Sadly they are a necessity of modern life. They help us fund the costs of running the website. If you are familiar with Google’s Adsense then you will understand. The adverts that you see are generally targeted and should be of interest to you, based on your recent browsing history. Instead of allowing the automatic insertion tool to have free rein, we have carefully inserted a reasonable number of ads in certain places that are less distracting to prevent the whole website from becoming a billboard.
If you feel that a particular advert is inappropriate or the quantity distracts from the article then please do let us know and we’ll try and fix it. Here’s an example of what you can expect to see:
Another aspect of independence is affiliation. We are not solely affiliated with any brand as discussed above. Some of our credit card reviews have affiliate links meaning if you want to sign up for the card and use our link then we get a small amount of commission (generally around S$50). From time to time we may also include discount links for readers that qualify you for special rates when booking with a specific hotel or airline.
So, how do we stop ourselves from only writing good things about credit cards or other products that simply offer us the best commission? Comparison and transparency. For example, any card we review goes into a comparison table. It would be obvious to you if we only pushed a card for commission’s sake despite there being better options.
In fact you will notice a lot of comparison tables in our articles. We believe it’s a clear and easy way to visualise the difference between credit cards, frequent flyer programs, etc. that allows you to make the best choice – regardless of what our opinion is. Also, Eddie is a “picture guy” which means he’s more likely to finish reading Andrew’s articles if there are some fancy tables!
As a part of this pledge we will soon be launching “KrisFlyer College”. This will be a free, comprehensive resource for readers to learn everything from the most basic, to the most advanced facts, tips and tricks related to the KrisFlyer program. Contained within the guide will be some of our hardest earned and learned secrets. We’ll be breaking it all down in easy to read, bite-sized chunks so that you can make the most from your hard-earned miles.
Thank you for helping us grow to where we are now and joining us in the future. We’re working hard to make the website better every day and we hope this article acts as some reassurance that the future is indeed bright and honest.
If you ever think we have violated this mission statement in any way then do reach out. Your feedback is always taken seriously and will be addressed personally. In the meantime, keep reading, enjoy redeeming and happy flying. We wish you blue skies and plentiful ‘saver awards’!