It was September of 2011 and I’d just moved to Bali, Indonesia for two months. I was eating my $4 breakfast feast at a local café when I stumbled upon a story from my buddy Steve, about how he spent a night living like James Bond in Monaco.
I’m not gonna lie, I was pissed.
Ok maybe that’s the wrong choice of words, but my whole life I’ve had champagne tastes on a beer budget, and he had just lived out one of my dreams.
As I sat there in my Balinese café I realized that I was currently living in one of the most high-end, luxury destinations on the planet, and there was no reason I couldn’t do something similar.
At that moment, I decided to devote the next two months to seeing just how far I could take this idea of Hacking the High Life – turns out, a lot farther than I expected.
What Do We Really Want?
We all want to be millionaires. Despite people who say they don’t care about money, I don’t know a single person who would turn down the money if it was handed to them. Do you?
Didn’t think so.
What you might not realize however is that you don’t need to be a millionaire to live like one.
Sure, having a padded bank account would be great, deep down, that’s not what we actually want.
We want experiences.
We want to regale our friends and family with tales of the time we danced in Rio’s Carnival parade, or hung out with Orlando Jones in one of the most infamous houses in LA, or perhaps simply how we took the perfect photograph on our most recent vacation.
It’s all about being able to tell a good story. 50 years from now, if I have nothing else and thousands of good stories, I’ll be able to die a happy man.
During my seven weeks in Bali I played three free rounds of golf, had seven free five star meals, and got a $1200/night private villa for free.
So how can you do the same thing. With a little effort, it’s actually easier than you might think.
Look for the Win/Win
Here’s the thing about hacking the high life: it’s not about you. Yes, you get to benefit, but almost every single experience I had was sparked by me figuring out how I could benefit someone else.
For instance, while I was in Bali through a series of introductions I met a woman who was very well connected on the island. She introduced me to many of the hotel and restaurant managers that set me up while I was there. To say thank you, I helped her with some of her SEO efforts for her Bali villa rental business.
And the hotels? Some of them I’ve written about, others I made videos of, and all of them I now know about and share with others whenever they are heading to Bali.
Starting by finding win/win solutions for whomever you’re trying to approach will go a long way.
Build an Audience
While not necessary, if you have a blog/brand/audience of some sort, you’re going to have a big leg up. Why? If someone is going to give you a deep discount or something for free, they want to make sure it’s worthwhile for them.
Their goal is to get their brand in front of as many people as possible or get new business out of it.
So while there are a variety of ways you can leverage other peoples audiences in order to achieve the same goal, having a group of followers via blog or social media will go a long way to helping your cause.
How do you go about this? First figure out what you enjoy and what you like. Do you like driving exotic cars? Start a site about cars. Are you a huge foodie that likes to sample foreign delicacies? Start writing about it.
This guy I know has a great course on starting a blog that can get you started.
Personally, I like travel and entrepreneurship and how those two things work together. I write about it both of these topics on Location 180, and thus have a pretty big asset when it comes to helping others gain exposure in either of those niches.
Leverage PR Relationships
Alright, so you’re going to Vegas for a weekend with your friends and you want to score a free suite?
How are you going to go about it?
Well, every single hotel on the Strip has a marketing department with a huge budget. If they are at 70% capacity on a slow weekend, and they have the potential to stand out among every other megaresort on the strip by giving you a free room, don’t you think they’ll do it?
Of course they will, you just have to come up with a compelling enough reason to get them to do so.
How can you spread their brand name? How can you get the word out, beyond just a status message to your Facebook friends?
Recently I was in Macau, and while I turned out to be there on the busiest day of the year, I was still able to get an incredible lunch at the Wynn Resort, along with a private tour of the grounds.
Free room? Nope, but I still got a great story.
Start reaching out by using the contact info on your property of your choice and asking to talk to someone in PR or marketing.
As tempting as it is to say “hey, look at me! I’m a blogger, give me free stuff” it won’t get you very far, trust me, I’ve tried.
So what do you do? Build rapport.
Start by telling your contact what you are hoping to do for them. Maybe you’re writing a big piece on the difference between Macau and Las Vegas and are doing research.
At this point you aren’t asking for anything for yourself, you’re merely telling them how you plan to give them exposure, and you’re mining for information.
In the process, be friendly. Do they mention something personal about their job or life? Find a way to relate to it. Bottom line, people want to help people they like.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Finally, when was the last time you straight up asked for something you wanted? While you won’t always get the answer you’re looking for, it never hurts to ask, and you might be surprised by what you end up with.
After a few emails back and forth with the PR rep at your hotel of choice, ask if they can give you any special rates while you’re there writing your post or shooting your video.
It doesn’t always work, but in my experience, you might be surprised by how often it does.
The Bottom Line
Don’t get me wrong, having loads of money is great. At some point I too hope to have fat stacks and be rolling around in a Ferrari.
However, as I’ve learned over the last year, it’s not a necessity. I’ve utilized these strategies all over the world, and when approached with genuine concern for the other party, you have the potential to create memories that will last a lifetime.
And in the end, that’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?