Registration for the 10th annual Chicago Seminars is now open!
The weekend is so educational and fun. I love it.
“I just love going to this very special event,” Rene wrote last year, noting it’s the place that “the place that changed my travel life.”
Yep. It’s pretty great.
You may have questions, so let’s get right to ‘em.
Does the Chicago Seminars Have a Website? Where Do I Register?
There Chicago Seminars does not have its own website. Rather, it uses a thread on FlyerTalk.
–> Here is the official FlyerTalk Thread for the 2019 Chicago Seminars <– Visit early and often. It’s where the schedule is posted, people post messages about meet ups (more on that in a few), etc. Do keep in mind (especially if you venture outside the thread) Rene’s tips about FlyerTalk.
What Is (or Are) the Chicago Seminars?
The Chicago Seminars is a three-day event centered around points, miles, travel, and loyalty programs.
Credit cards, mileage runs, hotels, family travel, airlines — it’s all covered.
Most of the speakers are bloggers (many with Boarding Area). I always enjoy the “Ask Me Anything” segments. Two amazing speakers are hosting them this year: Greg from Frequent Miler and Tiffany Funk of One Mile at a Time. And if you get a chance to listen and watch Richard Kerr, I highly recommend it.
You must preregister now for which sessions you want to attend. Yes, there are many difficult decisions. But bring a friend or meet one there; take copious notes and share what you’ve learned.
A Q&A portion is part of nearly every session. (Scared to publicly ask questions? Don’t worry! We’ll address that in a few minutes.)
Rene and my good friend Carol (both of whom I met at Frequent Traveler University in Las Vegas several years ago) both strongly encouraged my wife and me to attend the Chicago Seminars. We love them (the Seminars, Rene, and Carol 🙂 )and I have been back every year since except once (new child thing).
This is not an exaggeration: I start looking forward to the next year’s Chicago Seminars pretty much the minute the current one ends.
You can read about some of the past Chicago Seminars here.
So This is Like a Travel and Adventure Show, Right?
Not really, at least, not in the commercial sense. No one’s selling luggage, time shares, destinations, or tours. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Where Exactly in Chicago Is/Are the Chicago Seminars?
The Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village, 1000 Busse Rd, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007.
O’Hare is 20-ish minutes away from the hotel. Midway, however, is 45 minutes to an hour.
Save money on your flights: perhaps this a good excuse to sign up for a Delta Platinum or Delta Gold Amex you haven’t already held — especially with the 50% cashback bonuses offered to new members!
How Much Does It Cost?
Registration is $125 for the entire weekend. This includes lunch on Saturday and Sunday, snacks throughout both days, and a free drink during Saturday night’s cocktail hour.
For what you learn, $125 is a steal.
By the way, the Chicago Seminars is an all-volunteer event (lead by Howie Rappaport, formerly of Frugal Travel Guy and Award Wallet, now with Reward Smith, the company he started!) After costs, the remaining money is donated to charity.
Who Should Attend?
If you read this blog, chances are you’re into points, miles, travel, and loyalty programs.
So, basically, you!
”But I’m New to Points and Miles and Don’t Know Anything”
Perfect. Then you really need to come to the Chicago Seminars! (I think the audience is generally about half newcomers)
In fact, here’s a (good) problem you may have: you ask a question — only to have a bunch of people excited to share with you several different ways to earn points, maximize your time at a particular destination, etc.
And everyone’s been new at the hobby at some point (pun not intended).
So many of the Chicago Seminars attendees and speakers are very friendly. We share a passion many people find — um, how can I say this — strange. (“You have how many credit cards?” “You fly just for miles?” “You must really like Walmart!” “Why not just use a debit card?”)
Everyone who attends learns something new every year.
Will There Be Any Meetups?
Every night (and sometimes during the day), many attendees and speakers visit Shelby Campbell’s — the hotel’s bar and grill. It’s very conveniently located between the conference center and guest room elevators.
If you’re a shy person, this is a great place to ask questions in a smaller, more intimate setting.
That’s where more tips, tricks and stories are shared. Beverages are consumed. Greasy appetizers are shared. Lifelong friendships are formed.
Follow the Chicago Seminars thread on FlyerTalk. Some people arrange dinners in downtown Chicago; I think a few folks went to a concert or show or something a couple of years ago.
A group of Rene’s Points readers have been known to venture “off campus” for steak dinner and drinks Saturday night. (Keep your eyes peeled to the blog for updates in case we do something similar this year!)
Is There a Special Rate on Hotel Rooms at the Holiday Inn?
Sure is! (The Holiday Inn doesn’t accept award points that weekend.)
I booked late last night. I’ll pay with my new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and earn 25 points for each dollar I spend at the hotel that weekend.
But rooms sell out FAST. There are a few other hotels in the area — but not within walking distance. It’s so much easier and fun to stay at the host hotel.
So reserve your room now.
There is a hotel shuttle to/from O’Hare but I usually Uber or Lyft. (It’s a pain in the you-know-what to get to from the Delta gates, just FYI. And that’s assuming you actually find the shuttle.) I think it runs every half hour or hour or something.
”When Should I Arrive? When I Should I Leave?”
Completely up to you.
But keep in mind the following:
The Chicago Seminars officially kicks off Friday at 4 PM.
Personally, I like arriving on Thursday. I occasionally make a mileage run getting there (one year was LAX-SFO-LAX-ATL-ORD. Another it was LAX-ATL-DFW-MSP-ORD with an overnight in there).
Some attendees trickle in Thursday — it’s nice to meet up with friends and have dinner.
The Seminars always wrap Sunday before 3 or 4 PM, so people can make the late flights out of O’Hare.
I generally stay until Monday morning so I don’t have to rush. Rooms aren’t too expensive cash or points-wise. I spend more time with friends, watch baseball (MLB’s LCS take place over the weekend), and go to bed early. 🙂
Did I Miss Anything?
Any questions you have that weren’t answered? Chicago Seminar veterans: is there anything I didn’t mention?
Share in the Comment section below!
I hope to see you there! —Chris