F2B Phoenix Sessions –
This past weekend I visited Phoenix to attend the First2Board Phoenix Sessions, which was a travel conference connecting other miles and point enthusiasts for a weekend of networking and specialized meetings. I enjoyed the conference a lot and made some new friends.
The conference was held at the Phoenician Resort Scottsdale, a Starwood Luxury Collection resort. The resort is beautiful and I had the opportunity of getting a great room overlooking the mountain. I love SPG and they treat me well as a Platinum Member.
While I was at the conference I attended several amazing sessions where I learned of other member’s travel experience as well as participated in group discussions regarding current trends in the points and miles arena.
Jamie from The Forward Cabin presented about Train Travel and the experiences offered on seeing the country via Amtrak. He had some great tips about sleeper cars in that one should avoid the rooms that have their own toilets as it is next to the bed. He also warned that most rooms that Amtrak says sleeps two people is really only good for one person. In addition, Jamie discussed the point system and pricing and he explained that certain routes can be purchased for 1,500 points and can make a great opportunity to get out and explore.
In addition, if you live near Newark, NJ and you are traveling on Star Alliance you can sometimes find savings by using the airport code ZFB which is a train station near the airport where you can board and take the train one stop to the airport and can sometimes save hundreds of dollars over booking directly from EWR.
Caroline from Points Princess presented about chasing the fare not the destination and she explained how you can always be on the lookout for great deals and let the deals dictate your destination. She recommended following Fare Deal Alert and The Flight Deal for daily deals and she showed a cool map showing one complicated trip that she booked for a few hundred dollars using points and miles where she got to see both Europe and Asia with a trip to the Caribbean nested in the middle. She recommended using Rome2Rio for bus and train options worldwide.
Caroline recommended looking up UNESCO Sites in every destination that you go where you can see some really amazing places that are historical in nature and that can enhance your experience on the road.
Caroline also recommended a great tool for searching for hotels to redeem points at using AwardMapper where you can select a city and it will show you all the hotels of a particular chain and you can select the level of points required.
Stacey from Very Good Points, Simon from Running for Status, Jon K from Wanderlusty discussed amazing trips that they booked using miles and points and they explained options on ticketing and what to do once they were in a particular country.
The webpage Loco2 was recommended for booking Europe Rail Tickets.
Also Stacey recommended finding travel deals on Travel Zoo at a lot of hotels in Asia for great deals.
Angela from Just Another Points Traveler talked about current trends in miles and points and she explained options in the current environment. Some of the topics that she covered included using corporate rates for saving at hotels and said to check into your companies to see if a negotiated rate is available which can be used worldwide.
Angela discussed using status matches to help gain lounge access from an international airline within One World or Star Alliance which can save on the membership fees for United or American lounges.
Angela suggested share benefits from friends to help earn stay credits in hotel programs. For example, if you are short on stay credits and a friend of yours is traveling soon to a new city, you can book the stay under your name and ask that they add your friend to the reservation for checking in. The friend can get a great hotel room and use your benefits and you will get the stay credit.
In addition, Angela explained that American Express waives credit card annual fees for active duty military members including the Platinum American Express card which gives access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Skyclub.
Ari from Award Magic discussed strategies for booking trips using points and miles and he shared good recommendations.
In the discussion they explained when it might make sense to use an award booking service and also went through some of the changes currently occurring regarding points and miles.
During the discussion they recommended checking into SPG hotels at 5:30 PM for greater chances of upgrade as Platinum Members can checkout at 4:00 PM and the hotel takes about 90 minutes to turn the room so the best upgrades would be available at that time.
I really enjoyed the conference. It was great networking and meeting other bloggers and fans of the miles and point hobby. I would highly recommend attending the next First2Board session as it is a smaller than some of the larger conferences and it allows for greater discussions.
Did you attend the Phoenix Sessions?