Check Out My Bravo Web Series, The Upgrade

As many of you may remember, earlier this year I took a crazy three week round the world trip, which I couldn’t share many details of at the time.

RTW

Well, I’m happy to now announce the details. I’ve teamed up with Bravo to create a travel web series, called “The Upgrade.”

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This is part of Bravo’s travel platform, “Jet Set.”

As part of this I took a crazy round the world trip which was booked almost entirely using miles & points. OMAAT is all about luxury experiences using miles and points (both in the air and on the ground), and this was intended to be an extension of that.

The series will last eight weeks, and you can expect new installments every Monday through Thursday morning, including a combination of videos and blog posts. It goes without saying that this is targeted as a wider audience, so advanced miles & points fanatics may not learn all that much when it comes to maximizing travel and earning and redeeming points.

At a minimum there’s a lot of airline & hotel footage that you guys may enjoy, including EVA Air Hello Kitty Business Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, Etihad First Class, Qatar First Class, and Singapore Suites Class. Ford joined me for part of the trip, so he’s in there as well.

Our destinations included Bali, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the Maldives, Paris, and New York.

This whole experience was fun but exhausting. I write a vast majority of the content for the blog, so even without any special projects going on, I’m working a bare minimum of eight hours per day. As anyone who reads this blog knows, the content didn’t slow down during this trip. So it was a sleepless three weeks, but was fun as well, thanks largely to the great producers I was traveling with.

The process for this was also much different than any reviews I’ve done for OMAAT. When I write my own reviews I can sort of include whatever I’d like, while working with a bigger network meant we couldn’t include many of the interactions with airline staff, etc., and certainly couldn’t include strangers in the video. While airlines seemed excited about this at first, getting them to actually sign off on this was significantly more challenging, so we more or less went into this undercover.

The series just kicked off this week, and the first three installments are now live. The first week covers our journey to Bali, including an EVA Air Hello Kitty flight from Taipei to Singapore, which was pretty awesome.

You can find the first three installments here:

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Thanks for tuning in, and hopefully you guys enjoy this, as it’s a very different format than what you usually get on the blog.

Comments

  1. @Damon – not his choice for geo restriction unfortunately. But you can follow along on IG and FB where he’ll be posting up outtake videos from the experience every week so you can see some of the really fun stuff that went on and also which complements the series….

  2. How accurate is this though, given how often you have advocated just paying for business class fares now (and in practice you pay a lot now in cash), plus availability is shit unless you plan last minute or 1 year in advance, which is completely unsuitable for the “wider audience”.

  3. @Shashank Atreya Why single out Indla? He didn’t get into China, Australia, Africa, South America and a bunch of other places either, and there’s only so many things that be squeezed into a few weeks…

  4. Looking forward to watching it, albeit via VPN, to get around the geo restriction.

    “It goes without saying that this is targeted *as* a wider audience”

    Typo? at a wilder audience.

  5. Are you at all worried about the longer effects of stretching yourself – and your content – so thin across several different media? You mentioned that it was a “sleepless three weeks” as you made sure the blog didn’t suffer while you were on your adventure. That’s not a sustainable operational tempo. What’re your new priorities as a result of this added coverage?

  6. I don’t see the general public being interested in someone bragging about their miles and taking video of champagne glasses. You’re misleading in portraying how you accrue miles, such as funneling client bookings through your CCs and purchasing a lot of your miles. And you’ve been preaching for awhile now buying tickets with cash due to “amazing” prices. None of this is of any use to the average traveler who already finds the FFP world confusing, difficult to use, and a ripoff. I’m sure you will draw some gawkers interested in the promise of “luxury” and fanboys.

    I’d recommend taking voice and acting lessons before venturing out into commercial video segments again. Your awkwardness, fidgeting, odd ticks, sleepy look on your face, are off-putting and the sort of robotic yet unevenly paced voicing doesn’t help. These can all be helped with training though so it would pay off.

    The bit with Ford in it is bizarre. It comes off as if he is your handmaiden and porter. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be in a relationship with someone with your demands. Ford ends up looking like either a gold-digger or a fool. I’m not sure what the point was of even interviewing him other than to lure in more homosexual viewers.

  7. Great gig Lucky. But it’s super annoying that those of us loyal followers of your blog who aren’t in the US ( and we must be many) can’t view the videos! Thumbs down to that. Surely you want to reach out to as many as you can?

  8. I am also very disappointed to not be able to view the videos outside the US. Quite a restriction for a blog so focused on international travel.

  9. Wow, Eric, that wasn’t very nice. And I completely disagree. Ben came across as authentic, and with Ford looks like a lovely couple. Perhaps you’re projecting based on your own life, Eric.

  10. Geo restrictions arent set by Lucky but by BravoTV. If anything, readers should complain to Bravo….

  11. Great clips Lucky! So you did wear the Hello Kitty apron, I was literally clapping my hands when I saw you wear it :D.

  12. Eric, you sound like a bitter person. Are you generally like that in real life or you just enjoy posting these behind the obscurity of the internet?

  13. Congratulations on this great venture! I love it and look forward to your future installments!

  14. Really enjoyed the webisodes! Wish there were more, and honestly after your fb live, I would love to see more similar video content from you. I think it would really add something to the blog.

  15. For those having trouble with the geo restriction, I have 3 letters for you:

    V P N ;

  16. Kudos. Bravo must be a great personal achievement given your entertainment preferences.

  17. Please, please, please tell me this grants you an invitation to be a guest bartender on Watch What Happens!!!!

  18. I eventually found the clips on YouTube and read the blog posts. And honestly, I’m torn. I’m a huge fan of the blog (excepting Daniel) and read it everyday. I think that new video content is a great way to expand your offerings, and while Bravo is a different audience I still think there are some substantial problems.

    While I understand that you have to maintain your angle of points and miles for Bravo, you’re simply lying in the introduction that your travel is “almost exclusively” on miles and points. Anybody who reads the blog knows that you book many paid J tickets including nearly all your oddball airlines and that nearly all of your Starwood stays are paid. I understand why you do this, and don’t have a problem with you paying for travel, but I do have a problem with the dishonesty.

    As for the videos themselves, I think there is a lot of potential, but there are a few really rough edges could be polished in the future.

    I would seriously consider wearing a small amount of makeup, especially for narrative bits where you’re talking directly to the camera. TV without makeup just doesn’t work well for anybody.

    And it looks terribly silly to be commentating a video while wearing EarPods. This may be standard travel mode for you, but it is really bizarre and disconcerting to watch.

    I know this post sounds negative, but I honestly mean it to be more constructive. I’m still a huge fan of the blog.

  19. Lucky, what kind of earplugs/earbuds are those that you wore in the videos? I’m in the market for something better than what I have and I’m always curious as to what’s new out there…thanks!

  20. I thought the videos were great! It’s nice to put a face and voice to the writing. Also nice to see the logistics of taking all those photos because I’ve always wondered how you were able to get all those people-free shots as everyone usually rushes onto the plane. Can’t wait to see the rest of the series!

  21. Not a horrible low budget production. Ben sounds like someone you would grab a beer with. Ford sounds like someone who’s auditioning to be in the real housewives.

  22. Hi Ben!

    It looks like the video is unavailable to watch in Australia! Is there any way this could be changed so your international readers can keep up to date?

    Congrats

  23. So did the videographer also redeem miles? How does that part asking? Not a troll question, honestly curious

  24. Darn, I was really hoping that each installment was a full length web/tv show …. turns out there are a couple 90-120 second video segments and some write ups. But not nearly as in-depth as I was hoping for.

    Still very cool …. but I would something much more in-depth …. something like what Rick Steves does, but focused on how to travel on miles and points.

  25. Ugh so annoyed I cant watch your video! (outside of US right now) any chance it will go up on Youtube?

    And ill look into the VPN service.

  26. I think it’s a great idea, but agree with what others have said. Not really sure of what the point of a 90 second clip is. Hard to really understand the point. Also agree with what others have said – you appear very awkward and fidgety on camera. You should take some acting lessons. Not trying to be mean, but show biz is a cruel business. You wouldn’t make it far.

  27. @ Lucky — Welcome to Bravo Ben. Stay away from Patti Stanger and you’ll do just fine 😉

    Congrats,
    —JRL

  28. Congrats, Ben! I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and you deserve your success.

  29. Glad to see most of the comments were kind as the saying goes “if you don’t have nice things to say, don’t say anything at all.” Happy you got on Bravo and hope to see you on WWHL. A bit disappointed that the videos are not longer than couple minutes as I think the show can easily be stretched out to half hour segments. . I actually think it would be fun to watch you go step by step from booking a ticket using miles (including figuring out which mileage program to use so you can optimize your miles) to arriving at your destination hotel room.

  30. I watched the first 3 videos. So far, it looks like short order points porn. Ford comes off looking like a complete jerk when he says his job is to basically block people from getting on the plane so you can snap picks. It is full on excesses like champagne and Hello Kitty shaped cheese but no details about how you actually live the lifestyle. Given that you spent three weeks on the insane round the world trip to film it, it is totally shocking there is only about 6 minutes of video showing you traveling from LA to Singapore. I hope you were paid well because I really think it drops your appeal.

  31. “Not available in your region”. Those Bravo folks must have a genuinely international orientation.

  32. I’m in no position of authority to comment on the production itself, but I’ll echo the general sentiment that I hope your on-camera presence evolves like the blog itself has – and that Bravo makes more of it! The short clips aren’t enough and especially leave an incomplete picture of your spend vs. redeem strategy, which doesn’t do many favors for the general audience.

    Also their video player is very clunky depending on the browser, and the “blog” isn’t a true one as it doesn’t seem to support RSS syndication. Wish I could at least be notified of new posts without having to always go to the Bravo site (which I know is what they want me to do, grrr).

  33. Boo-hoo Ben,
    I can’t get the content down under in New Zealand. Crap. I will have to wait 3 tears for it to come onto Bravo down here.

    Cheers though, keep up the good work and don’t work yourself to a frazzle.

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