Despite the tornado warning and my delayed flight home, I had a great time at the Chicago Seminars. I’ve spent so much of my time interacting with people on the computer that I had a big list of of those I wanted to meet in person, associating names with faces.
(If I missed anyone, I apologize. It was surprising how hard it could be to find people among the crowd even at a small-ish hotel.)
If you’re thinking of going to the Chicago Seminars in the future, I highly recommend it. Those who are new to the miles and points game will learn a ton. Those who have been on the boards for a couple of years may not, but there are always a few whispered tips on the latest deals.
I viewed the Seminars more as an opportunity to socialize and network. HansGolden made a point to explain how valuable networking has been for him as he discussed his latest attempts to earn miles by reselling merchandise. Mr. Pickles gave an impromptu talk on Starwood with a few tips I hope to use when I attempt Platinum status next year.
But I think my favorite speaker was Beaubo. First, he tells great stories. I learned a few things NOT to do if I want to keep the peace in my future marriage. Some things just aren’t worth the miles. He also demonstrated how it can be important to think big. Read the terms and conditions of any deal to see what’s possible. If you figure out how to maximize some promotion just for you, imagine what you could do if that same process can be scaled tens or hundreds of times?
Beaubo was also valuable for providing us all a reality check. Cynicism isn’t always welcome on the blogs. No one wants to read a negative story; people want to hear happy, positive things. I’m not suggesting Beaubo was trying to rain on our parade, but caution is important when so much time and money can be at stake.
I wrote a post last week describing how I justify mileage runs, one reason being elite status. Beaubo warned us all about the increasing “a-la-carte-ization” of elite benefits. Many programs will allow you to pay a fee for lounges, priority service, and upgrades at check-in. Free checked bags and other benefits come with credit cards.
Some things just aren’t worth paying for anyway. Lounges are getting worse as the main terminal gets better. And upgrades on domestic flights really only matter for long-haul trips. (Really, how much does it matter if you get upgraded on a short hop like SEA-SFO or ORD-EWR?) While he acknowledged the benefits of top-tier status, lower elite tiers are very difficult to justify.
So yes, I learned a few things, and I was reminded of a few others I knew but maybe chose to forget or ignore. That’s why it pays to get together with other people, to share the same passion from different perspectives.
I’d like to thank Rick (The Frugal Travel Guy) and Brian (The Points Guy) as well as everyone else who helped to organize the event. It was tons of fun. I also found a lot of support for this blog while I was there, which I really did appreciate. You never know, as a new, unfamiliar person what people will think of you.
For all I knew they were ignoring the blog. The readers who keep coming back obviously like it. It’s not until you meet people in person that they are forced to give an opinion that might be contrary. But I actually found a lot of support from those I admire in the frequent traveler community. I picked up a few tips, too. These are signs I’m on the right track, and I look forward to continuing that momentum.