Reminder: Frequent Traveler University PLUS The Travel & Adventure Show

Filed Under: Misc., Travel

This is just a reminder that the next FTU event will take place this weekend, in Washington D.C. — if you don’t have tickets to either the FTU, or the adjacent Travel & Adventure Show, now’s a great time!

The Frequent Traveler University events provide an opportunity for miles and points enthusiasts to spend a weekend diving in to the nitty-gritty details of various programs and opportunities, meeting people with shared interests, and generally geeking out over travel.

They’re fun events, and I’ve enjoyed presenting and socializing at several of them over the past few years (and I say that as someone who generally dislikes socializing).

The next Frequent Traveler University will take place March 8th, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (with some other cool activities on March 7th).

I will be there (though likely won’t be shaking hands, sorry) and other confirmed speakers include:

Tickets are $129, though you can save $10 by using the code “2020” at checkout. Tickets for the two-day event include:

  • A full day of educational sessions (with everything miles, points, and rewards) on Sunday, March 8, 2020
  • Free access to the Travel & Adventure Show and FTU stage on both Saturday, March 7 (10:00am – 5:00pm) and Sunday, March 8 (11:00am – 4:00pm.)
  • Coffee/tea in the morning and lunch on Sunday

The event will take place at the Washington Convention Center, and the host hotel is the adjacent Marriott Marquis, which has a $179/night room block available.

Buy tickets to Frequent Traveler University

Bringing Miles & Points to the Travel & Adventure Show

In addition to the “FTU Advanced”, which will be chock-full of the kinds of miles and points content you’d expect, this Frequent Traveler University will be co-located with the Washington D.C. edition of the Travel & Adventure Show. 

This is a long-standing event, and is a more traditional travel expo, with a showroom floor full of travel vendors, and dedicated event stages featuring big-name travel speakers like Pauline Frommer and Peter Greenberg.

For the Washington D.C. show, there will be a separate “Frequent Traveler University” stage, with speakers highlighting some of the miles and points content that is most relevant for a broader travel audience. And I’ll be talking about loyalty and rewards on the main event stage at the Philadelphia (March 14-15) and Dallas (March 28-29, Hi Dad!) shows as well.

So if you’re looking for just a sprinkling of miles and points content along with a splashy travel expo, tickets to those events are ~$20, and are available through the above links.

Who should consider attending these events?

Historically the FTU events have skewed heavily towards being either social events for the very hard-core players, or introductory sessions for people who have no clue about anything miles and points related.

So basically there’s potentially something for everyone. 😉 But there are few groups of people who this is particularly well-suited for:

1. The Miles & Points Aficionado

Seriously, this is the main reason to attend. No other events have this concentration of award travel enthusiasts, and it’s ridiculously fun.

Whether you want to swap notes on favorite travel experiences, discuss ways to maximize ANA awards or reminisce on the best deals from the 2010 SkyMall bonuses, you’ll find someone with similar interests and stories to share.

2. The Newbie

On the one hand, I tend to think all the information is already “out there” for public consumption (that’s why we write a blog).

On the other, I recognize it’s not necessarily digestible for many people.

With an endless number of forums and blogs it can be hard to sift through and find what’s relevant, and while we try to consolidate information and strategies here, there are over 35,000 posts on OMAAT alone. That’s a lot of words to process, and getting a good “baseline” of key info in person can be a good way to launch yourself into the game.

3. The Social Learner

Everyone learns differently, and while I’m happy learning by reading websites while on the couch with my dog, I realize others are more interactive learners. Some people do better when they can ask questions “live” or see visual demonstrations.

These events are typically a mixture of slides, dialogue, and Q&A sessions, which combine to accommodate a broader range of learning styles than just blogging alone. Every time we’ve had one of these events I’ve gotten feedback along the lines of “NOW it all makes sense!” because someone had a lightbulb moment that enabled them to put all the pieces together.

4. The Manufactured Spender

If you know (or want to know) the secret handshakes for manufactured spending, this is your event. This isn’t my world at all, but the hardcore MSers definitely have a place here. They seem to gather around tables and cluster in corners with other people who actually know what’s going on. Their techniques and strategies make my head hurt, so I’m not one of those people, but if this is something interesting to you, you’ll find other people who want to share “war stories” at these events.

5. The Mileage Hoarder

Are you good at earning miles, but struggle to redeem them efficiently? Earning and burning are equal parts of this hobby, and it seems like people really struggle more with the latter half.

There will be a few sessions on award bookings, and then I try to answer lots of redemption questions in the Q&As as well.

Not to mention there are many “quiet experts” in this space who don’t necessarily post online. If you want to sit in the bar and discuss your travel goals, someone knowledgeable is typically going to be around and happy to walk through your award ideas with you.

6. The Traveler

Do you want to learn more about travel beyond miles and points? Another unique aspect of this particular event is that it will be done in partnership with the Travel & Adventure show. They have great relationships with some of the big names in travel, and are bringing in some additional resources. That means you’ll have even more opportunities to learn and be inspired, and the chance to connect with some of the big names in travel.

So I think this will be an interesting event — it’s been a few years since I’ve participated in one of these, and I’m looking forward to seeing folks and chatting about miles and points stuff for an entire weekend.

And the juxtaposition with the Travel & Adventure show opens up even more topics and potential for interesting interactions, so I hope this will be a fun event!

Buy tickets to Frequent Traveler University

  1. Or you could just learn everything from information posted on the internet. A disgrace to the word “university”.

  2. This is more of a social event than a ‘university.’ There’s nothing more that can be learned after reading these articles.

  3. Agree @ Eric no value to be had , also definitely a sort of elite , Aloof snobbery and lack of engagement with presenters ended my 3 time visits – No thanks ! | The End

  4. OK, I’ll bite. I have no f’ing idea what “Manufactured Spending” is. Anyone care to enlighten the noob?

  5. @Marky Mark You find ways to generate CC spend in order to earn points, but then just pay it off right away. For example, years ago the mint released dollar coins for sale at face value. You buy $10,000 of coins, deposit the $10,000 immediately and then pay off the CC charge. You earn points for this transaction and repeat over and over. Most “methods” exist for brief periods until issuers find out about them and get them shut down. You’re likely get your accounts shut down and your points taken away if you’re caught. Some people do it just to hit sign-up bonuses, while others do it constantly for the attrition points.

  6. @JackG Thank you! Yes, I had heard about the U.S. Mint dollar coins schtick. Didn’t know the terminology though. What other kind of schemes have there been?

  7. I’ve been going to FTU for years now and am very much looking forward to the DC event. Not only do I get to geek out with fellow miles and points enthusiasts, many whom I met at previous events and have become close friends with , but I invariably pick up several new tips and tricks towards collecting or redeeming my miles and points.

    Tiffany is an ace presenter – can’t wait to hear her and some of my other favorite speakers.

  8. I’m going. Looking forward to hearing your talk, Tiffany.

    Other readers: Is anyone else from Pittsburgh going?

    @Marky Mark – oh there have been several “Manufactured Spend” strategies that have gone by the wayside. You used to be able to load debit cards (Target Redcards, Bluebird, Serve), that have on-line bill-paying features, with either credit cards (Target) or Visa gift cards (purchased at Staples for 5X pts), then pay any bill – mortgage, credit card, utilities.

    Manufactured spend strategies are usually not illegal. They can look like money laundering, so many banks or stores shut them down when they figure them out. They don’t want to deal with who is legal and who isn’t. Plus, it costs them money.

    Bloggers used to blog about strategies, but most don’t anymore. The more people who know about them, the more quickly they get shut down. Thus the conversations on the fringes of the conference.

  9. @ John — I’m not involved in organizing either event, and have been to nine of ten Chicago Seminars, and many of the FTUs, so don’t have anything to “sell” here. The Chicago events are cozy, and more homespun. FTU is higher production, and coupling with a big travel show is a new spin. I like both.

  10. CVS Vanilla reload cards were the heyday of manufactured spend…………today’s techniques are more complex and not as profitable so after you figure in all your travel costs and exposure to other nasty sick people on the plane it might be more productive to stay home……….

  11. @Marky Mark

    It is basically a way to earn points w/o actually costing you anything (in the perfect case).

    For example, if you could buy money orders with a credit card for no or little cost, then go to the bank and deposit them and repeat.

    Some people take a bit more risk and will buy products online with a credit card and then go online and sell the product hoping to break even.

    Or go to an office store and buy $5,000 worth of gift cards that earn you 5X points per $ spend and then resell the gift cards or deposit them into various accounts.

    There are a lot of options (at least in the past) but as others said, it is likely to get you into trouble and not very ethical.

  12. @Karen — it appears that’s the only purpose of this blog these days.
    Oh — and Housewives references.

  13. @Rich. Are you sure it could be problematic if I buy let’s say Amazon gift cards at Office Depot and then apply it to my own Amazon account? It seems legit to me since I would be using my card and my (Amazon) account. And they always check that the name on the ID corresponds with the name on the credit card.

  14. @Will
    Yes. Now you know it. Don’t attend.

    @Daniel B
    Do it a few hundred you’re fine, do it a few thousand, you look like you’re laundering money or hacking gift cards. And banks, store, CC doesn’t even care to if you are legitimate or not. They just shut you down to prevent problems because they can.
    Just imagine how hard your life will be if you can’t bank or buy Amazon.

  15. We are in Bariloche at Llao Llao. Leaving Thursday for Buenos Aires where we bunk at the Park Hyatt Palacio Duhau for the weekend. Then off to the beach at Jose Ignacio, Uruguay. Sorry, too busy doing it to hit DC and listen to people yap about how to do it.

  16. @Tiffany&Co

    You may have “real” jobs, but no careers. Sanders, if elected, will pay you whole $15/hr for your “real” jobs

  17. @Mr G
    What makes you think blogging isn’t a real job?
    Do you think playing games is a real job? This kid called Ninja makes more than $10M.

    This is a clash of boomers vs millennials.

    Look at what @tony kline thinks of a real job, a boomer earning minimum wage.

    By the way, “Sanders, if elected,” is like a “AOC, if smarter”, yep LOL.
    Bernie is going to screw the only person that can beat Trump again like he did to Hillary last time. I think he would thrive under Putin.
    Trump can try to MAGA, Bernie could try to MUSSRGA.

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