I love attending travel conferences because you can learn so much and meet many great people. And FTU Seattle 2019 did not disappoint. It was three days of networking, sharing tips, and learning from excellent speakers. Here are my five favorite takeaways from the travel conference.
FTU Chicago 2019 registration is open
Before we get into what I learned at FTU Seattle 2019, I want everyone to know that registration is open for FTU Chicago 2019. The next chapter of Frequent Traveler University will be held May 31, 2019, through June 2, 2019.
It will be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago. Group room rates are available with prices starting at $159 per night when you book using the group code “G-FREQ“. TripAdvisor rates the hotel 4 stars with 3,800 reviews.
When you register using my FTU Chicago registration referral link and the promo code “EARLYBIRD” by April 10, 2019, you can save $35 off. The normal cost to register is $249. With the promo code, your registration fee is only $214.
I’m bummed to miss this event, but I’ll be thinking of you while my family and I are chilling on the beach in St Kitts. Of course, we’re using many of the travel hacks we’ve learned at previous FTU events to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points.
When and where was FTU Seattle 2019
FTU Seattle 2019 was held at the Hilton Seattle Airport & Conference Center. We enjoyed the hotel and the service was very friendly and polite. The hotel took good care of the guests, and I would recommend future conferences in Seattle to consider this location.
The FTU Seattle 2019 was held on Friday, March 8 through Sunday, March 10. We started off the event with a complimentary Thai dinner at Chontong Thai Cuisine. The food was excellent and everyone had a great time. Even though my children and I can be pretty picky with food, we liked everything that we ordered. My wife, Anna, loves Thai food and she was in heaven.
My five favorite takeaways from FTU Seattle 2019
Although there were many excellent speakers with interesting topics, I wasn’t able to attend all of the sessions. Luckily, many of the speakers have made their PowerPoint slides available. Feel free to reach out to the speakers to ask if you can receive their slides.
I presented two sessions:
How to earn tons of points with credit cards without harming your credit
How miles and points led me to quit my job and move to Nashville
It was a great experience, and I look forward to speaking at future FTU events.
Advanced features of Cashback Monitor
I’ve been using Cashback Monitor for years when I shop online. It is an aggregator website that shows you how much cash back or miles and points you can earn on your purchases.
Instead of going directly to a website (e.g. Kohl’s, Target), go to Cashback Monitor first to discover which portals are offering rewards. For example, at the time of this article, you can earn 2.25% cash back via Top Cash Back, 2 British Airways Avios per $1 spent, or 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when shopping at Target.
And remember that all of these rewards are in addition to what you’ll earn from your credit card.
The advanced features of Cashback Monitor offer even more value. Yansong Wang is the owner of the site and he shared advanced features that I had never used before. For instance, you can view the best reward rate history for the prior 15 months for your favorite stores. I encourage you to click around the Cashback Monitor site to learn the powerful features that it offers.
Family travel like the pros
As a Dad that travels with one or both of my kids on a regular basis, this session really piqued my interest. It was presented by Kyle and Carly Stewart of Live and Lets Fly.
I was pleasantly surprised that they use many of the same travel gadgets that I do. For example, the miFold folding car seat is a huge money saver when traveling because we don’t need to rent car seats from the rental car companies. Traditional car seats are heavy and bulky, so there’s no way we want to carry those with us while traveling.
Kyle and Carly also had their daughter with them. She was an impressive young lady about the same age as my children (4 and 8 years old). The gave a couple of tips that we’re going to start incorporating into our travels. One, we want the children to start helping us plan the attractions that we’ll visit. And, two, they will have their own cameras so we can capture the travel experience from their point of view.
Advanced Southwest Airlines
Jason Steele, a travel and credit card freelance writer and the founder of CardCon Expo, gave a presentation on Advanced Southwest Airlines strategies. I was really interested in this topic because Southwest is my favorite domestic airline.
Since many of the premium status levels with Southwest can be earned by flight segments, Jason recommended breaking up your roundtrip flight. Instead of one roundtrip, break it into two roundtrips that will double the segments you earn.
For example, if you’re flying from Denver to Seattle via Oakland. Book Denver to Oakland and Oakland to Seattle roundtrips to earn 8 segment credits instead of 4. Because of Southwest’s pricing strategy, there should be very little difference in price between the two options.
And Jason also hit on a point that I always make. If you see a good fare on Southwest grab it now. You can always rebook if the price drops or cancel if you change your mind, thanks to Southwest’s generous refund policy. But, if the price increases, you’ve missed out on the lower price.
The Future of Manufactured Spend
Mike Graziano talked about the pros and cons of manufactured spending. There are some great benefits, but the risks can be sizeable, which is why I don’t talk about it on my site.
One of his main points is to be careful with your float. Sometimes transactions go bad or it can take time to liquidate. Make sure that your volume is comfortable to your situation.
Mike also talked about volume versus margin. A great deal with a big spread is awesome, but if you are limited to $1,000 per month, that isn’t too lucrative. Sometimes it is better to focus on a deal with a smaller spread that allows for significant or unlimited volume.
Networking and making friends is incredibly valuable
The sessions led by the speakers are always filled with great tips and tricks. Because audiences can be a mix of beginners and advanced, the speakers have to tailor their presentations to a wide audience.
One of the most rewarding things about attending conferences is the opportunity to network and learn from others who share the same interests. I met so many great people and even found several that live in the Nashville area. Some strategies are hyper-local, so it was fun to trade tips and better understand what is and isn’t working in my new hometown.
On Saturday night, we gathered a bunch of our new friends and headed to dinner. There were about ten of us that enjoyed a great meal at Sharps Roast House. The food was absolutely delicious and the conversation enjoyable. Make sure you try the cornbread and burnt ends. Yum!!!
The Bald Thoughts
If you have the opportunity to attend a travel conference like FTU Seattle 2019, I highly recommend going. Even if you feel that you’re already an expert that knows everything about the topics being covered, the networking is still worth the price of admission. You’ll be surrounded by people who love to travel using airline miles and hotel points as much as you do, plus it is a great way to “pay it forward” to help out the next generation of miles and points enthusiasts.
Remember, registration is open for FTU Chicago 2019. Use my referral link and the promo code “EARLYBIRD” by April 10, 2019, to save $35 off your registration fee.
For FTU Chicago, how will using the group rate affect elite night accumulation and benefits?
The group rate shouldn’t affect any loyalty benefits. It’s similar to using AAA/AARP rates or corporate codes from IBM.