The First 10 Years of LFAL!

I’m not usually the one to celebrate milestones, but today feels just the right time to write a bit of a personal note to all of you who have been with us on the journey of LiveFromALounge for the past decade. I know of readers who have been around since day one, and I know of readers who have been with us just a few days now. The first thing I want to say to all of you is, Thank You!

Yes. Thank You, readers, for coming back, many times daily, to read about stuff we think is relevant to your travels. Without you, there is no LiveFromALounge. I think of LFAL more as a community of readers where we just help open up new discussions and keep them going, but 4,667 published articles (excluding this one!) and 26,153 approved comments later, I also think of us as a family I run into at airports or hotels.

The first post just read, in Computer Science form, Hello World. What would you expect from a Computer Science graduate! I still believe, The Journey is the Reward, just as I believed nine years ago when I founded this digital property. Mistakes were made, as I did not realise many people would pronounce Live (the adverb) as Live (stay in a place).

The Evolution of Live From A Lounge

Over the years, LFAL moved from just being a blog to being a digital property, working with the website and getting into social media, and more recently, into YouTube. Our core focus has continued to be to build a collective platform for the needs of a traveller, rather than a tourist, which include content about airlines and aviation, hotels and hospitality, generating value with credit card spends for travel and loyalty programmes.

What has been of personal significance to me has been how, for me as an outsider when I stepped into this space, how the industry welcomed us due to our USP of being specialists on the subject, ignoring the fact that digital media was not a thing to include in interactions about a decade ago. From my conversations with people who refer to us for air travel insights, we moved the goalpost from looking for the cheapest fare to looking at air travel decisions more wholesomely, including passenger experience, loyalty and so on in the mix. Some of our most exciting moments were also our most avgeek moments, however, such as the trip I made to the Boeing factory to get a preview of the first Vistara 787, and before that, to get a first look on Vistara’s A320 revamp. There are many firsts, such as the Qatar Airways A350K as well, and a first look on the Citi Prestige and IndiGo co-brand credit cards along the way.

What also makes me happy is that we started to bring people to realise the true potential of their credit cards. I still get a lot of smirks from people who think of credit as a bad thing or points as pennies, but if it was all bad, I wonder how we inspired a whole league of Indian credit card review websites over the years in India.

Recently, we started to offer the Mileage Mentor MasterClass, for those who want to optimise their earn and burn and want to get a sense of things in an interactive environment (Next one is this weekend!), and the PointsPurse, exclusive space to start into Credit Cards for women who are apprehensive about it otherwise or don’t know how to go about it. We haven’t still reached our true potential, and more is on its way.

CoronaVirus and its impact on us

For those who would have closely followed, the impact of the virus has not taken away our determination to bring the correct information to you, in good time. Time flew by in a second, as we tried and figured out what would we focus on at LFAL given the pandemic. We’ve held back some of our trip reports because it did not feel like the right moment to post it.

For the time being, our focus has been and will continue to simplifying the questions in the minds of everyone for how they can travel and when they can travel.

We also appreciate the fact that the CoronaVirus induced travel restrictions around the world have caused a lot of people, including our readers, to be displaced around the world. While we spent a lot of time helping many of them 1-1 to get back home, we have been writing a lot about special flights to/from India to help everyone get home. There are many questions, and we do hope we can answer them to the best our ability by talking to people who are undertaking these repatriation flights, to the officials who are behind the scenes working on it and so on.

The virus has also caused a lot of financial pain to a lot of travel businesses and associated stuff such as F&B, all a part of the experience. While we personally supported where we could over time, we continue to believe in the potential of travel to bring people together, and we will be doing everything we can to help businesses as well as the travellers alike. This has meant a broader coverage over a period of time, such as smaller boutique hotels where we believe customers get an excellent value for their dime.

Supporting Us

Long before the pandemic, it was a part of the thought process to move from being an advertising revenue supported website to a reader-revenue supported one. I’ve believed for the longest time that everyone should have access to this platform we have built. Still, we also wanted people to appreciate that information won’t be available for free forever. However, the 3-5-10 stories a month free and then paid model is not something that was sitting well with me because it was too complicated to remember which site you had how many free stories left.

Also, we did not want to bar people from accessing information because they were unable to pay. So, we believed that people should be able to consume our content whenever they want and pay as much as they want for it. A sort of a freemium approach, where no amount is too small and no amount is too big.

We sat on the idea for a while and hoped to implement it smoothly in our next iteration of the website. But the pandemic hit, and we’ve seen the revenue from advertising jump off a cliff, just like air traffic, going down 90-95% in many cases. Hence, after talking to a small user-group, we went ahead with placing the Support Us footer on the website which you see repeated under every story.

I’d say we’ve received many brickbats over bouquets for this move, but I’d just like to leave it out here about our thought process behind the whole move. If you’d like to help us, you could help us from anywhere around the world. If you’d like to establish a monthly payout to us, drop us an email, and we will set it up with you.

Back to the Celebrations!

To be honest, this is not how I had envisaged our 10th year to close at. We had some exciting projects in the works which we have postponed for now as everyone grapples with what they call is the new normal. We wanted to throw a small gala to celebrate our ten years with readers, and perhaps give out some prizes as well just like we did a few years ago. But as travel finds its feet again, and it will, we thought there would be a more appropriate time to celebrate the resurgence of travel.

For now, I’d just like to thank my family and Shipra, who has been very patient through the whole process over the years. And promising you a lot of firsts as time passes by.

Thank you again, dear readers, we won’t have come this far without you. Looking forward to seeing you at a hotel, airport, airplane, or a lounge, hopefully soon! Till then, stay safe, stay home, and wear a mask when you are not home! Personally, I am excited to see the start of our next decade!


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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

More articles by Ajay »

Comments

  1. Hello Ajay, Shipra and LFAL team,
    First THANK YOU for giving us so much information, many tips to make our journeys pleasant, enjoyable and rewarding at the same time!
    Secondly, Congratulations on achieving this significant milestone! A decade of consistent digital presence is a lot of commitment for sure.
    And thirdly, all the best. Its actually wishing ourselves many more to come!

    Regards

    Shirish Tambe
    A participant in Mileage Mentor Master Class as well

  2. Congratulations guys… been reading the blog for a while now. And I must thank you for a lot of information that made me rethink my credit card journey. From a I don’t care attitude with a Icici cc to a more focused citi permiermiles guy and now with a prestige cc armed with a mileage excel sheet calculator. You guys have been great. Cheers.

  3. congrats Ajay and Shipra. indeed, it’s been ten glorious years and we at BoardingArea have been honored and proud to have been along for the entire ride. oh!, those early days ….. you’ve done some amazing things with your readers and the imagination to start new projects such as Mileage Mentor and PointsPurse (one of my fave ideas) are truly above anything else in your readership domain. and we know you are just getting started. here’s to many (frequent flyer) miles, many smiles and many more anniversaries like this one. on to your next ten years—congrats.

  4. Hi, It is great to follow LFAL. Great work Ajay and Shipra. Thanks a ton for enlightening us on travel, credit cards and loyalty.. Wish you a great success. enjoy!!

  5. Thanks Ajay and Shipra for educating us over the years. I personally have learnt a lot from you. Keep up the good work.
    Happy anniversary and best wishes.

  6. Wow a decade, I never thought LFAL has been there for such a long time. Happy Anniversary! And many more to come.
    I’m one of the people who really relates to how this website thinks about travel, its been a long very informative experience with LFAL for some many years now. Really appreciate your efforts and the knowledge you share with all. Hope we’ll get an opportunity to meet you soon. All the best Ajay!

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