Last weekend’s Frequent Traveler University in Northern Virginia was a whirlwind.
It was the biggest gathering of frequent flyers ever with about 650 people in attendance. I admit I was scared that the logistics would be a challenge with such a big group, and I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone or spend as much time with a lot of the people I did meet as I would have liked. But things worked out pretty well (with room for improvement) on the logistics — certainly the smoothest FTU so far.
Some of the feedback was that sessions were too basic, for others too advanced, not every session was pitch perfect for all 650 attendees — but we did have three concurrent sessions during much of the weekend, giving participants plenty of choice of what sessions work best for them. I need to get better written descriptions for the sessions, too, to help folks make their choices.
- USA Today’s Ben Mutzabaugh, Seth Miller of Wandering Aramean, Chris Lopinto of Expert Flyer, and Alexi Vereschaga from Award Wallet
The Points Guy posted the slides from his Delta presentation which was really great, some amazing tips that I didn’t know about including how to jump to the top of the upgrade queue.
Million Mile Secrets thought that Rapid Travel Chai‘s presentation was the best of the weekend, and the slides from that presentation are now online along with those from the talk’s Q&A on North Korea travel. (My other favorite was Chris Guillebeau’s talk on lessons learned having just completed his quest to visit every country in the world.)
- Mommy Points and Pizza in Motion offering an introductory session on miles and points
Some lessons learned for me in putting things together too and my goal is to make the next FTU even better — more networking opportunities, more informal time, more choices .. a return of some of the best speakers and some great new content as well.
The following speakers are confirmed so far:
- Ben Schlappig, One Mile at a Time
- Daraius Dubash, Million Mile Secrets
- Summer Hull, Mommy Points
- Ed Pizzarello, Pizza in Motion
- Stefan Krasnowski, Rapid Travel Chai
- Gary Leff, View from the Wing (Me)
- Greg Davis-Kean, Frequent Miler
- Seth Miller, Wandering Aramean
- Steve Belkin, “beaubo” (and my award booking partner), famous for turning 100,000 mile deals into 10 million mile deals
- Hans Mast on generating millions of miles buying and selling online — not free, but at a profit!
Plus Randy Petersen and I’m waiting to get confirmation back from Brian Kelly, The Points Guy.
I’m also working to secure so new and really compelling speakers, I have an invitation out to someone who’ll be pretty famous to most of the attendees — who is local to Florida — who has said he’ll do it if he isnt’ traveling internationally. Lots of detail to nail down in the coming months!
And I’d like to squeeze in more on getting the best deals on travel, not just earning the most miles for the least cost and redeeming them (though there’ll be that, too!).
The event cost is $100 and includes a Friday evening cocktail and canapes reception, all Saturday and Sunday events, plus lunch on both weekend days. The event is priced to cover event costs, though if we’ve figured it right there will be some leftover funds which go to charity. The conference hotel rate is $119 per night.
The venue size won’t allow us to ‘break the record’ of 650 people set in DC, but that isn’t the point, it will be a fantastic opportunity to get together with like-minded frequent flyers, to make new friends, and to learn some of the things that don’t get shared in the online forums and get your own questions answered.
Note that the room block is almost full, we’re trying to wrangle some more rooms out of the hotel since I bet we can take it over completely the way we did the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner!
As Hack My Trip wrote, “Frequent Traveler University is where you want to be if you’re a fanatic about miles and points!”
Key Frequent Traveler University Tampa Resources: