60 Seconds with UsingMiles.com's Founder, Krista Paul

60 Seconds with UsingMiles.com's Founder, Krista Paul

UsingMiles.com allows travelers to manage all their loyalty programs in one place for free. Plus, it is the world’s first website where consumers can search and book travel using frequent flyer miles, hotel points or cash, simultaneously. Recently, we spoke with UsingMiles founder, Krista Paul.

InsideFlyer
Your site is currently in beta. How’s it coming along?
Krista Paul
The response UsingMiles.com has received from the users is absolutely phenomenal. Even as a closed beta site, we are currently managing over two billion miles and points for members. It really highlights what a major problem managing and redeeming points and miles is, not just for the user but also for the industry.

IF
Why start the site?
Paul
I was a loyal United Mileage Plus member as a native Coloradoan growing up in Denver. After college, I became a dedicated Delta SkyMiles member working for Coca-Cola and taking frequent trips to Atlanta. One day while going through the usual frustrations of trying to use miles to get a free ticket, I remembered that I still had United miles. Upon visiting the site, I realized that 22,000 miles had expired just a few months back–almost enough miles for a roundtrip ticket! I was devastated and became determined to find a better way to manage and use miles before they expire. UsingMiles.com evolved out of an earlier travel company called Travelfli, and has been dedicated to simplifying this process for frequent travelers. We bring you: convenience to manage all your loyalty programs in one place; knowledge to recommend how to maximize value from your programs, and savings–when booking either award and cash travel.

IF
Can you give us an overview of how the site helps travelers take control of their travel loyalty programs?
Paul
Sure! Currently, UsingMiles.com is broken down into three parts–your awards dashboard, your profile and your personalized travel search feature. It’s easy to set up your dashboard. Simply provide your account email/username and PIN/password for each program. From that point on, UsingMiles.com safely manages all your programs for you, much like Mint.com helps people manage all of their financial accounts in one place. We’ve made it highly secure, so you have nothing to worry about from that perspective. Once your programs are loaded into UsingMiles.com, your Loyalty Dashboard shows your program balances, member levels, expiring points/miles, how close you are to elite status and other interesting data. When you search for flights or hotel rooms, we show you how to book using points/miles or cash. Our recommendation engine uses a sophisticated algorithm to pinpoint the value of a mile in any given program, and then we recommend whether you should use points/miles or cash for your trip. We basically automate many of the things you manually have to do today. Lastly, UsingMiles.com links you directly to the airline or hotel to finish your purchase. We’re currently working with these industries to not only help maximize your experience with their loyalty programs, but also make the purchase a seamless experience through deep-linking and other capabilities. We are a young company and this is just the beginning! We are integrating new upgrades and features every week and we appreciate any feedback on what you want to see on the site–we read all feedback.

IF
Can you tell us a little more about what users can expect over the next year?
Paul
We are constantly improving the site and adding new features. We will have 29 programs that cover 95 percent of the market share for airlines and hotels live for management by the time this article is published. We are expanding into credit cards, trains and rental cars. We will also try to solve other problems, such as how to earn and burn miles efficiently and with the least amount of effort. The member is everything to us. So, user feedback will play a huge role in our product roadmap. We are looking to our users to help guide the development of the site and help us determine what will make it most useful for them.

IF
How are you using social media to draw attention to your site?
Paul
Social media is a very important component of our go-to-market strategy. We believe our site is viral in nature due to the fact that it is free to join and solves a major problem for frequent flyers and leisure travelers alike. We are deeply engaged with our users on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Our social strategy will help keep our users stay connected on and off the site. Like us at http://www.Facebook.com/usingmiles and follow us at http://www.twitter.com/usingmiles to be among the first to hear about new features, exciting travel news and exclusive mile and point deals and giveaways.

IF
How is UsingMiles.com different from the other websites that help travelers keep track of their loyalty programs?
Paul
We are the only website that simultaneously searches for cash and award fares across all of the major airline and hotel brands and displays them side-by-side for easy comparison. We are also completely free to the user, whereas there is usually a cost or subscription associated with other tools.

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