Another October weekend has passed and once again, this one found me in Chicago at the Fifth Annual Chicago Seminars. As in the past, the events took place at the Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village near Chicago O’Hare Airport from Friday through Sunday – October 17-19. And, as always, it was a fantastic weekend! Over 500 frequent-flyer enthusiasts were in attendance, and we spent the weekend engaging in outstanding informative sessions that included information for both beginner and advanced mileage junkies. I have attended all of the Chicago Seminars and look forward each year to seeing old friends, making some new friends, and gaining a little more knowledge.
What makes the Chicago Seminars special? Well, according to Rick Ingersoll (Frugal Travel Guy) “The event is all volunteer, non profit with all excess proceeds going to charity.
There are no industry executives invited so if you want to hob nob with Smisek, Horton, Robinson.etc, Chicago is not for you.Those in attendance are all travel hackers or newbies and everybody gets to chip in and volunteer. The hotel is not as fancy as FTU’s but the hotel staff is as friendly and accommodating as anywhere I’ve ever been. In short, Chicago is all just us, put-on by us and only us hackers are in the crowd. Blue jeans and t-shirts always welcome”
Along with Jeff from Indulge the Wanderlust, I presented at a session on Alternative Lodging Choices. We discussed airbnb and HomeAway (VRBO) along with a few others. Many thanks to those who attended our session. We are always looking for better ways to enhance our travel and I think Jeff and I both agree that there are some great alternatives to chain hotels.
One of the best speakers, in my opinion, was Captain Denny Flanagan who discussed Customer Service. Captain Denny flies for United Airlines and makes it his mission to ‘influence by example’. He is also on the board of the Jason Dahl Foundation and encouraged us to participate in the Just A Buck program to help fund scholarships for young aviation pilots and students. This year’s charity raffle proceeds will be shared between the Jason Dahl Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Angelina from Just Another Points Traveler presented a comprehensive seminar session on Best Rate Guarantees. Because we were presenting at the same time, I was unable to attend but had a good friend in attendance. He learned a lot of the ins and outs of BRG and named it as one of his choices for top presentations. A summary of her presentation can be found here at Everything You Need to Know About Best Rate Guarantees. Greg of Frequent Miler presented an interesting session with a new focus on Target’s new Red Card. And always a delight, Marshall Jackson presented a Frequent Floating 101 session on cruise tips. Stefan Krasowski of Rapid Travel Chai presented two very informative sessions – one aimed at beginners to the hobby, International Travel Bootcamp – and the other on Hotwire and Priceline.There were many more presenters and every session was worth attending – I just wish I could have seen them all. I’ll include a list and their webpage link at the bottom of the post so you can check them out.
If you have never attended a Chicago Seminar or a Frequent Traveler University, I really think that if you are interested in miles and points and learning how to maximize your travel choices, then one of these gatherings would be a great move on your part!
And, as soon as I can figure out the best way to share with you, I will be posting information from our session.
Speakers at Chicago Seminars 2014Scott Grimmer MileValue.com Summer Hull MommyPoints Daraius Dubash Million Mile Secrets Marathon Man Scott Mackenzie Hack My Trip Brian Kelly The Points Guy (presentation slides) Marshall Jackson MJ on Travel Greg Frequent Miler Ben Schlappig One Mile at a Time Stefan Krasowski Rapid Travel Chai Jeff Brownson Indulge the Wanderlust Angelina Aucello Just Another Points Traveler Drew Macomber Travel is Free Rick Ingersoll, formerly Frugal Travel Guy (But still one of the most Frugal Travelers I know!)