What do cheap airfare and startup founders have in common? Surprisingly, more than you might think.
The characteristics that make for successful entrepreneurs – perseverance, confidence, and creativity, for instance – can be useful in multiple aspects of life. Being charismatic is helpful when negotiating with a car salesman, having creativity can help you plan your child’s wedding, and overcoming obstacles can help you ace that final paper for school. The “soft skills” associated with any successful businessperson are applicable in daily – even mundane – situations.
The same concept applies to traveling. By paying attention to the skills developed by successful startup executives, especially “growth hackers,” you can learn how to travel the world on little to nothing. The trick is to mimic the characteristics of growth hacking before you hop on your next flight.
What does growth hacking have to do with traveling?
Growth hackers are in charge of rapidly increasing the user base of a startup in its early stages, which means that all of their decisions are focused on growth. With their specific goals and near-obsession with maximizing the number of users interested in their products, successful growth hackers have become something like “market whisperers” in a hugely competitive economy.
To be this successful at something so specific, growth hackers embody a new way of thinking that crops up in some of their common characteristics. And although startup growth and budget travel may seem worlds apart, characteristics for success in either are surprisingly pretty similar.
Growth hackers are known for understanding how people make decisions, coming up with creative solutions, and bending the rules once in awhile. If you can keep these in mind when planning your next big trip, you can save a lot of money and become a “travel hacker” yourself.
How do I use growth hacking to travel cheaply?
There are a few common character types in the growth hacking world, and each type reaches success in its own way.
For instance, a common trait that you might notice about growth hackers is that they understand how people move through the decision-making process. By paying attention to common patterns, they can pinpoint how people use the Internet to maximize their chances of roping in new users.
Similarly, you can pay attention to patterns regarding people’s travel habits to score deals on airfare and lodging. You might notice that prices are higher during “peak season,” usually during school holidays, and that prices rise and dip over time. If you pick up on these patterns by avoiding peak season and figuring out the optimal booking window – usually 6-8 weeks out during off-season, and 12 weeks out during peak season – you can use this trait to your wallet’s advantage.
Another common quality in the growth hacking world is getting creative with solutions to common issues. Growth hackers use all possible tools to come up with ideas to get ahead of the pack, and aren’t afraid of less-than-obvious paths to success.
To use this quality when making your travel plans, you can get creative and use lesser-known tools to get the deal you want. For example, the SELECT card is an effective, less common way to get deals on hotels, restaurants, and more during your trips. Its far-reaching network of everything from nightclubs to retailers allows you to unlock discounts and free perks almost wherever you go. And the best part is, because SELECT is by membership only, they’re able to offer big savings on hotel bookings you’re not going to find anywhere else.
Finally, growth hackers know how to bend the rules to suit their needs. This doesn’t mean that they do anything illegal, but they do push boundaries to take advantage of loopholes and mistakes. Although they are careful not to wander into immoral territory, they take advantage of weaknesses to achieve success.
You don’t need to take advantage of anyone to get a good travel deal, but you can certainly jump on opportunities that come up when someone makes a mistake. People have built entire companies on finding air flight pricing glitches and mistake fares, allowing customers to pay little to nothing on what can otherwise be expensive flights. For instance, Secret Flying, Airfarewatchdog, and The Flight Deal all scour the web for flight pricing mistakes and send them to subscribers. By subscribing to one of these websites, you can use this rule bending to your bank account’s advantage.
The idea of transferable skills is common when thinking about employment, but it also applies to business and deal hunting. By taking a page out of the book of the world’s best growth hackers, you can travel hack your way to exotic locations without breaking the bank.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.