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Learning about miles and points online is a great place to start, and for many it is all they ever want or need. However, for some people it makes sense to take the next step and attend an in-person miles and points conference. Yes, there are several miles and points conferences!
This is a good time of year to think about whether an in-person miles and points event sounds interesting to you since there is one about to happen, one that just opened for registration, and one that is about to open for registration. I’ll give you the details on the upcoming events and then a few words about whether or not this type of thing might make sense for you.
Frequent Traveler University Seattle
April 25th – 27th
This event is sold out, but folks who have had a change of plans are making their tickets available for sale. This event is for miles and points fans of all levels, but probably services beginner and intermediate mile collectors the best. You can find more information here.
Frequent Traveler University Advanced Chicago
Weekend of September 26th
Details on this one are yet to be announced, but since the first FTU Advanced scheduled for mid-July sold out very quickly, this event is being put together. These advanced events are much smaller and more hand’s on than the regular events, and are capped at 125 people. This is for those who have some experience under their belts in the miles and points world, and want to take it to the next level. Find out more about these advanced events here.
October 17th – 19th
This is an annual conference that happens around the same time each year at the same place outside Chicago. Tickets went on sale last week and about 200 of 500 or so tickets have sold, so still plenty of time, but almost all of these types of events do eventually sell out – and the host hotel always sells out well in advance. You can get more info here.
Should you attend an in-person miles and points event?
Maybe. These conferences are great for hearing a large amount of information in a relatively short amount of time. You can pick and choose the sessions that best align with the information you are after, and tailor your experience in that way. If you have been at this for a while, you won’t learn very much in the beginner oriented sessions, but may pick up some good tips in the more intermediate and advanced sessions. If you have been at this a long time then the tips you pick up in the official sessions may be quite limited (perhaps other than the FTU Advanced that has yet to launch), but you can be well served in the informal chats in the hallways, at lunch, and in the evenings. You may even pick up a tip or two in some of the sessions on topics you may not have as much experience in.
Of course, if you are the type of person that has trouble talking to folks you don’t know well, the informal sharing part of the weekend may be tougher. I highly recommend trying to put yourself out there though, as good personal connections in this hobby are quite valuable.
I now speak at many of these events, but registered and attended Chicago Seminars several years ago as a participant and enjoyed it. I found it a good way to make in-person connections with others than share the same love for miles, points, and travel, as well as pick up some tips that can take your earning and redeeming up a notch. You may hear a few tips that aren’t often written in detail on most blogs, but most of the info shared in the formal sessions can be found online, so don’t go expecting to learn 100’s of tips that no one has ever heard before. Do go expecting to learn more about many topics that you might not have researched in depth, and expect to meet folks who are just as excited about this hobby as you are!
These events are all priced from about $100 – $200, and that generally includes the sessions, a few (modest) meals, and perhaps a happy hour. The prices are generally pretty low for what you get, but obviously when you add up registration fees, hotel prices, and travel costs these are not “free” events. It can certainly be worth it, but I know attending theses conferences isn’t realistic for everyone…especially if you would have to travel very far to get there.
I will be speaking this year at FTU Seattle and the Chicago Seminars likely on family travel and beginner/getting started oriented topics. If you go to one of those events, I’d love to meet you in person even if you don’t make it to my sessions. Let me know if you have any questions about the in person miles and points events and I’ll do my best to get you an answer.