I’ve attended many Frequent Traveler Universities before, but this was the first advanced version set up, which catered to the more experienced miles and points junkie. About 125 folks from across the country gathered at the Marriott Chicago O’Hare Airport for a 2 day conference on anything and everything miles and points.
The weekend began with a cocktail hour open bar hosted by Million Mile Secrets. The cocktail hour is an excellent way to meet fellow mileage junkies from across the country, and some of the speakers and event sponsors. I chatted with one sponsor of Hotel Upgrade on their new affiliate program for hotels to offer upgrades to customers who add in their reservations to the Hotel Upgrade website; I exchanged business cards with this person, and will have a more in-depth review and explanation of this program in a future post.
It’s always great to meet other people who are just as crazy as you, and who care as much as travel as you. You’ll never be short of stories about stellar business class products from across the world, fancy hotels, and the latest credit card that can do everything but make your bed at home.
Saturday began with an in depth session on credit cards, followed by a session on manufactured spending. After lunch, there was a hands on using tools session, and several “unplugged” (where the speaker chose the topic, and led a discussion) sessions. Last was an award redemption session followed by small discussion groups.
I was in the discussion group with Ben (aka Lucky) who writes the One Mile at a Time blog on Boarding Area. It was an interesting array of topics, but one thing caught everyone’s attention when a gentleman in the crowd was confused on where people where finding out about various airline and hotel deals, and what “secret group” people were members of to find out this information. As others in the crowd mentioned, there is no such secret society, or special way of finding these deals. If you read the blogs, follow the forums, and subscribe to mailing lists (that are in fact available to the public), you’ll find a majority of the deals and tricks, that “everyone” knows. There’s no secret society, or handshake that will get you any more deals than the next person – you simply need to have the dedication to know where to look, and keep up to date on any updates.
I had a great dinner on Saturday night with about 8 other attendees at Geno’s East Pizzeria, where we chatted blogging, manufactured spending and the aspirational awards we all strive to obtain.
On Sunday, the day started off with a part 2 session on credit cards, followed by a session on best practices. After lunch, we had a part 2 on award biking, followed by a part 2 on manufactured spending. Lastly, we closed out the weekend with a forum on the future of the hobby, where folks could ask questions and listen to updates on where rewards programs are going, and what the future direction is.
If you haven’t attended a Frequent Traveler University before, I HIGHLY recommend it. Tickets usually run about $100-200 for the weekend, and there are always lower room rates on the conferenced block booked hotel rooms at the host hotel. The cost of the event and the room is well worth the investment in the information you’ll receive. You’ll meet similar people across the country, and sometimes industry experts who have the inside knowledge.
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