5 Things I Learned About Frequent Traveler University This Past Weekend

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Gary Leff & Ben Schlappig at the Advanced Q&A Session at FTU in Seattle.
Gary Leff & Ben Schlappig at the Advanced Q&A Session at FTU in Seattle.

What I Learned About Frequent Traveler University

This last weekend I attended my first FTU event in Seattle. FTU stands for Frequent Traveler University and is a conference aimed at miles and points enthusiasts.  For more information about the conference visit their website.

Attending Frequent Traveler University was certainly an interesting experience and I don’t regret going. While I did learn a few small nuggets of new information, my favorite part was meeting new people and talking about the hobby with them.  Here are five things I learned about the conference which may be helpful for those considering whether or not to attend a future one.

1. Great For Beginners

If you are new to the miles & points hobby, then I absolutely recommend attending an event like this.  Not only will you get to meet some of the big bloggers, but you will be able to extract great information from the other attendees.  Everyone has their own stories and tricks that they are willing to share.

I think as a beginner you will also find a more complete set of information then you can get on the blogs. Often times it takes reading between the lines in this hobby and that can be difficult for beginners.  Many of the presentations this weekend were aimed at giving people enough of the coded information to get them started with more advanced techniques. (Many people would say that this is not a good thing.)

2. Good For Networking

The main benefit of conferences such as Frequent Traveler University for more experienced “gamers” is to meet other people with the same mind set.  It feels great to have conversations with others about miles & points & manufactured spending, since most of the people I know couldn’t care less.

If you do attend an event such as FTU, it is important to network and meet others.  If you don’t, then you will most likely not be satisfied in the end.  For more advanced people, the sessions alone are not going to be satisfying.

3. You Won’t Learn Any Big Secrets In The Presentations

There is so much pressure on the blogging community to keep certain deals and tricks a secret, that you won’t find anyone spilling the beans in a presentation.  On several occasions I even saw presenters clam up when being asked questions about tricks after their presentations. If they don’t know you personally, then don’t expect them to trust you.

While I didn’t learn anything new in any of the presentations that wasn’t already available online, I still learned a few obscure facts or rules.  A good example of this came in Scott Mackenzie’s presentation on the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program, where I learned it is only 70,000 miles one-way on Cathay Pacific between Africa & North America in first class!  Talk about an award chart sweet spot!

4. Some Presentations Are Better Than Others

I tried to attend presentations that were more unique.  During the weekend I did here from others that some presentations sounded like credit card pitches and I think that is rather unfortunate.  While I did hear a few people tout the benefits of certain cards, for the most part I didn’t feel like they were marketing to me.  With that said, I’m sure beginners who went to the conference to learn how to travel for free may have received some benefit from the credit card information.

One of my favorite presentations was done by Stefan from Rapid Travel Chai.  I have been reading his blog for years and he can only be described as hardcore!  His talk about hidden countries opened my eyes to a few new places that I hadn’t considered visiting.  Instead of trying to explain it, I will send you over to his site where all of the slides are posted!

5. It Provides A Good Value For $100

For such a small amount of money, FTU provides a lot of value.  Again I didn’t leave the conference with a ton of new information, but was inspired by a few other attendees to pursue some strategies that I had known about, but hadn’t tried yet.  I think that I will probably return to another event at some point, but it will probably be one that is a smaller size such as the upcoming FTU Advanced conferences.

Wrap-Up

I enjoyed my weekend at FTU, but I did not go into the conference with unrealistic expectations. I won’t lie and say that I enjoyed all of the presentations, but most of them were pretty decent and I would say that one or two were excellent.  If you have any specific questions or comments for me about the event, feel free to send an email or leave a comment below!

 


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