[INTERVIEW] BoardingArea Founder, Randy Petersen

Today, we are interviewing the legendary Randy Petersen. Found of BoardingArea, as well as FlyerTalkInsideFlyer and Freddie Awards. We wanted to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions.

Also, on behalf of Pointshogger, I would like to personally thank you for all the contributions you have made to the miles and points community, as well as helping Pointshogger to get where it is today. BoardingArea has really taken us to a level that we thought we would never reach.

Message to our readers, enjoy learning about Randy! I personally found a lot of inspiration in Randy’s story below.

Q1: Please tell us about yourself.

Simple, I live in Colorado and have the best job in the world working daily with over 140 bloggers around the globe in many different languages and also continuing to stay engaged with my fellow frequent flyers. I’ve got my 23 million miles +/- pooled away and I have about 7 or 8 lifetime elite levels with various airlines and hotel programs. So I’m a happy guy. My perfect day would be the first one in the office in the morning to turn on the lights and the last one out at night to turn off the lights. And to some I’m fairly famous for my tequila collection. I’m not a big drinker but have likely the largest or one of the largest private collections of tequila in Colorado and maybe a few other states. I have over 175 different bottles/types of tequila.

Q2: What got you interested in the miles and points world?

Simple. I was working for a large chain of young men’s clothing stores traveling around all over the U.S. as a merchandise presentation manager and was relegated to staying at Holiday Inn hotels and flying TWA. I saw an offer with a picture of a beach that said you could ‘fly for free’. I was dumb/smart enough to believe them and ended up going to Hawaii and then Paris all for free. as such, I became the guy around the water cooler since everyone wanted to know how I could ‘afford’ such travel luxuries. Fact was I was dirt poor but had a knack for reading the fine print. One day, my boss asked me to help him with a Marriott Reward problem. I realized then that even the smart guys might not have the time and patience to “get” how these things worked—and this was 1985! So I quit my job to force myself to make this idea of helping others with their frequent flyer miles work. Back then all my family and friends told me to get a ‘real’ job. today … they all want my job.

Q3. Why did you create BoardingArea?

As the founder of FlyerTalk, I noticed a subtle but growing behavior among some members, they were starting to follow other members and read whatever they posted, even though I knew it was on topics that they were not really interested. But they showed a like of the members posting style and trusted their opinion. So I took that small nuance and transformed it into the start of BoardingArea (at the time blogs were known as ‘weblogs’) with the idea that fellow flyers would start to read other fellow flyers in this new version of forums which morphed into blogs. Indeed, it became easily for travelers to single out a few savvy travelers who were starting to blog versus sifting through dozens or hundreds of forum posts to find the nuggets of helpful information. I was really early on with the idea and literally paid potential bloggers to write even though there was no revenue model at the time. I was committed, just as with FlyerTalk to help my fellow frequent flyer find travel information easier.

Q4: What would you like people to benefit the most from BoardingArea?

Finding new ‘voices of the frequent flyer’. there’s some great travel advice and experience out there and BoardingArea was designed to make it easier to find that information. Imagine the Web without Google? I think the idea that we have so many varying bloggers that you’ll find new blogs to follow as you change in your own traveler lifestyle. We have bloggers that range in age from 16 to their 60s, each with unique perspectives to share.

Q5: As most people probably know already, you have been very active in the miles and points world, so what else have you been working on that we can look forward to?

I’m about at the end of a marvelous period of my life, all with nothing less than the best of all jobs (I have it), the best of all travel experiences (I’ve been to over 100 countries and visited literally every airline / hotel company HQ in the world and the best network of fellow flyer friends all around the world. With the successes of FlyerTalk, BoardingArea, the Freddie Awards and now the global locations of InsideFlyer, while I have some other ideas it really is time for me to spend more time on my ranch high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and slow down a bit. I like heading out on terra firma in my RV. I’m not really a cowboy but play the part of one in my real life! I started all of what I do in 1986 so it is common to say that many of the frequent flyers I exchange with these days were not even born when I started. That is one of the many very positive things about miles + points.

Q6: What advice would you give travelers and “Pointshoggers” out there?

1- Google is your friend (in travel).

2- BoardingArea produces over 100 pieces of content daily … there truly are bloggers to follow about any topic you might be interested in.

3- The best traveler is one who respects others … don’t hog the armrests on an airplane and don’t steal all the toiletries at the hotel. learn to share!

Q7: Thank you for your valuable time Randy, do you have any closing thoughts?

Just as the old adage says about ‘don’t put all your eggs in the same basket’, ‘don’t put all your miles + points in the same program’. When someone asks you ‘what’s in your wallet’  impress them with a number of program cards.


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