The organizers of the semi-annual Frequent Traveler University have decided to try a new idea — more personal, more focused, more detailed — with the launch of the first FTU Advanced conference this summer in Chicago. We’ll be heading to the Chicago Marriott O’Hare from July 18-20, and I hope some of you will be able to attend.
Unlike regular FTUs, this one is much, much smaller and capped at 125 attendees. Compare that to 600 at last year’s event in DC and the 400 expected at Seattle later this month. With fewer people, we can not only look at discussing more advanced material but also try to present it in a way that is more valuable to attendees. Here’s how Gary Leff describes it on MilePoint:
Smaller, more intimate, for greater in-depth discussion.
More advanced. FTU events welcome everyone, at all experience levels, and of course everyone is welcome. But the program will feature a more focused conversation geared to people that have spent more time with the activity.
A different program. We’ll be able to go more in-depth, and we’ll be able to go more hands-on. There will be internet in the meeting rooms to facilitate learning by doing, not just telling and showing.
After speaking to the organizers, I can tell you that this will not be your average FTU. Some people worry that FTU is just a lot of discussion on applying for credit cards and other “basic” stuff. I don’t think that’s an entirely fair accusation since that information is useful and novel to a large fraction of the population. But for some of us who have been going for years and use the event for social networking, it would be good to have a classroom to match our skills.
At some point you have to graduate from high school and move on to college. And at some point you graduate from FTU and move on to FTU Advanced. Here are some of the topics:
- Award Booking on American Airlines
- Award Booking on United Airlines
- Award Booking on Other Airlines (Delta, Alaska, Avios, etc.)
- Using KVS Tool & Expert Flyer to Search for Fares and Availability (fare construction)
- Maximize your spending (beyond Bluebird)
- Maximizing Hotel Loyalty Programs and Promotions
- Visas, OTAs, Car Rentals, ATMs, and More Tips for International Travel
- Advanced booking techniques for revenue tickets
So now for the shocker: This event will cost $199, or roughly double that of most FTUs. Why so much? A lot more is included, and the event is still just about breaking even. For your registration fee you’ll receive:
- Open bar cocktails on Friday evening (past FTUs have limited type and/or quantity of beverages)
- Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday (new compared to past FTUs)
- Lunch on Saturday and Sunday
- Meeting space with internet (not all FTUs have this)
Heck, you could make your money back on the bar alone. But if that doesn’t sway you, consider that the host hotel is offering a room block at only $99 plus tax. That’s better than some recent room blocks, even if only by $10 or $20, and it adds up over a weekend.
Because of the small event, tickets will sell out fast. Be sure to register on Ticketbud and book a room at the Marriott once it opens up.