What an amazing points weekend. If you have never been to the Chicago Seminars you are just missing out. It is truly a unique, all volunteer, charity driven, event. No one is paid a penny to attend or help run the event. All the speakers are only compensated a small stipend for travel and given a free hotel room at the host hotel during the weekend. This conference is held each year for the “love of points” and it showed this year like it does every year.
I popped in and out of a number of the sessions when I was not speaking about Delta or on a panel or moderating some event. Let me tell you, if you have never listened to Rick speak, a.k.a. THE Frugal Travel Guy, you are missing out. I could listen to him talk for hour after hour. Not only is he informative, but so funny as he shares his many years of experience in the travel game we play.
It was nice to see a crowd on hand for my Friday night session all about Delta. Clearly, I cannot share what I talked about as these tips are just too special (plus I really don’t want the mothership to learn about them anyway). It was great to have a number of familiar faces in the crowd as well sharing some of their own experiences. If you were there, I hope you enjoyed the session! I know at least one person came up to me and immediately benefited, that same day, from one of the tips I shared. That is really what it is all about.
A new feature was one on one consulting about what travel card strategies to go for and what is possible and what is not possible, or not advisable I should say. It was fun talking to those who were near retirement and those young and new to the game. It was repeated over and over that there are much more important issues in life like getting a home loan and paying off every penny you owe on ANY credit card before you even think about starting to apply for travel cards. Winning in this game does NOT include paying money to the banks. We want them to pay us – that is winning.
Between sessions I spent most of my time chatting with old friends in the points game and even took the time before the event to drive up with Howie (event organizer) to the Field of Dreams set and farm in Iowa. I had never been or even seen the movie (I have now) but it sounded like a fun short road trip on a sunny beautiful day in October. The views were amazing along the way and Howie shared a travel tip that will save me $300 each year. Thanks, Howie. Another reader shared another tip that I can maybe work into about $1000 in quick travel cash. This also is what the event is all about, that is, floating around and getting to know your fellow points enthusiasts and one on one sharing tips that can maybe work for you to save some money or score some perks.
One of the highlights was a tweet from Points Chaser, who I follow on twitter, that OfficeMax had $500 VDGCs for sale on the gift card racks. For those of you who have INK cards from Chase this basically means FREE Ultimate rewards points by the thousands per gift card. Myself and two others jumped in a car and went down the road and cleaned out the small inventory a store near the host hotel had on hand before dinner. Good times in point land. 🙂
As always it will take me weeks to digest all that I learned from this year’s event and this is from someone who has been attending since it began years ago and has been speaking for a number of years as of late. I do not know the dates yet for next year’s event (or if they will even have it) but once they are announced you should block off that weekend. Plan to arrive EARLY on Friday or even the day before and to stay all day Sunday as those who fly out early miss out on a bunch. I cannot wait till 2016 as I am sure by that time the points game will have changed yet again and there will be a new wealth of information to reap from my fellow points enthusiasts at the event! – Rene