There’s currently some drama in the points world, which is giving reality TV and/or your local homeowners association meeting a run for its money…
There are two Chicago Seminars events in 2023
Over the years there have been all kinds of miles & points conferences, whereby people can get together to discuss our hobby and share tricks. These are popular with beginners, experts, and everyone in between. The single most consistently run event over the years has been the Chicago Seminars, held in October of each year at the Holiday Inn Elk Grove.
This event has been put on since 2010, and while the Holiday Inn Elk Grove is no St. Regis, the whole experience is fun and kind of charming.
The 2023 edition of the Chicago Seminars has just been announced… and there are two of them. The same weekend. Organized by different parties. Specifically, these are described as:
- “The 13th Annual Chicago Seminars @ The Holiday Inn – October 13-15, 2023: The Original” (tickets here)
- “The 13th Annual Chicago Seminars @ Delta Hotels by Marriott – October 13-15, 2023” (tickets here)
Both events have tickets on sale through Eventbrite with the same name for the event. And the events even list some overlapping speakers, though that seems to be in the process of being corrected. You can check the above threads to see who is involved with each event.
What on earth is going on here?!
Quite a public feud is emerging as a result of all of this. I mean, I suppose that’s to be expected, because usually two parties don’t otherwise organize competing events with the same name in the same city at the same time. For context, Stefan Krasowski of Rapid Travel Chai was initially supposed to be the primary organizer behind the Chicago Seminars.
Now JT Genter is one of the people behind the Chicago Seminars event being held at the Holiday Inn (the initial venue). Here’s how he explained what happened, in a comment on View from the Wing:
As he’s publicly acknowledged, Stefan dropped the ball on organizing the 2022 Chicago Seminars, disappearing for months and failing to do any planning. Late last summer, Marty reached out to me to ask for my assistance in helping save the event, and I was happy to do so. It was a ton of work, but I’m thrilled with how 2022 turned out. Stefan re-engaged at the last minute, and we let him save face by leading the seminars. All was good.
I share that as a preface for what comes next: Stefan disappeared again. The last contact that I had from Stefan was in December 2022. For more than three months, he failed to respond to our WhatsApp messages, emails, texts, and calls.
Assuming the same situation was playing out as in 2022, Chris, Marty, and I moved forward with planning the event. In March 2023, after having not heard from Stefan since November 2022, the hotel set an ultimatum for signing the contract or releasing it to another conference. Still no response from Stefan. So, Chris signed the venue contract to save the event. All along, we reached out to Stefan to invite him to re-engage when he was ready.
Unfortunately, instead of re-engaging and helping us plan Chicago Seminars, Stefan decided to announce a competing conference. He began selling tickets even though he didn’t have confirmed speakers or a venue. In fact, he locked us out of the shared planning account that had all of the speakers and sponsors that Chris, Marty, and I had confirmed and were working with. Even though he had no contact with any of those speakers, he announced them as his own.
Stefan continues to act in bad faith, continuing to advertise speakers who have expressly told him that they wouldn’t be speaking at his event. Then, he has publicly lied about getting this notice.
It’s a really unfortunate — and highly avoidable — situation. Unfortunately, he let his ego get in the way of helping make a single Chicago Seminars event be successful. By signing another venue contract — knowing full well that Chris already had a binding contract — Stefan locked the community into having two different events in Chicago on the same weekend.
Stefan (who is now behind the event at the Delta Hotel) says he’s choosing not to engage in public attacks. As he describes it, he’s continuing with the 2023 event with the team he hired, which does not include the people who are now running their own event. Stefan claims there were lengthy reconciliation attempts, including with a mutually agreed moderator, in which he made offers that were declined.
He then concluded that the event needed to move forward as best it could, with a new venue. Stefan says he’s not asking any speakers to choose sides, and the attendees that he posted are speaking at the event are ones that have confirmed their attendance for the event in the past.
Suffice it to say that this whole situation is just unfortunate. It’s sad that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement. Instead you have two contracts signed with hotels for events, and I can’t imagine this is going to end well.
I respect several of the people involved here (on both sides), and obviously I wasn’t there when this all went down, and when the reconciliation attempts happened. One thing is for sure — everyone loses with this setup.
There’s drama involving the Chicago Seminars this year, as there will be two events held at the same time and with the same name. I’m sure both sides have their valid reasons for what they’ve done and feeling the way they do, though it’s unfortunate that this couldn’t be resolved in an amicable way.
What’s your take on this whole situation?