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, and other confirmed speakers include:
- Greg Davis-Kean & Nick Reyes, Frequent Miler
- Matthew Klint, Live and Let’s Fly
- Stefan Krasowski, Rapid Travel Chai
- Dia Adams, The Deal Mommy
- Trevor Mountcastle, Tagging Miles
- Mike Graziano, Keep Travel Hacking Great
- Tess Zhao, Delicate Revolt
- Rob Pegoraro, Tech Writer
- Bethany Walsh, Bougie Miles
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.
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!