The Chicago Seminars- a first timers perspective
In the middle of October I attended the Chicago Seminar in…you guessed it…Chicago. I had always wanted to attend, and thankfully the dates worked out well for me this fall.
It’s a weekend of sessions and events for like minded travelers to meet and mingle, and take their points and miles learning to the next level. Most of the sessions are sponsored by points bloggers, but the attendees are a diverse group of people. I saw retirees wanting to travel the world, young people, business travelers, travel bloggers, stay at home parents, etc. All of them have different ways to get to the same goal of traveling for less and traveling often.
It was also really fun to meet some travel bloggers I have followed over the years. I felt like after posting comments on their sites, or Facebook/twitter pages, it was nice to finally meet some of them in person. Sometimes I wonder if the conversations we have through the internet are genuine from their side. Everyone was welcoming, great fun to talk to, and I’ve even added a few more bloggers to my feedly account since I got home.
The non-profit event (tickets for the entire weekend are about $150) was held at the Holiday Inn Chicago O’hare in Elk Grove, Ill. Attendees were responsible for booking their own hotel rooms, although they had negotiated a rate with breakfast included. The host hotel filled up, so I stayed in the overflow hotel, but the conference provided buses back and forth. Lunches were provided during the conference also. The non-profit aspect is appealing and makes for a more intimate event. It makes you feel like no one is out to make a bunch of money on attendees. The signs for the sessions were posted on paper or paper easels in the hallway. Not a bunch of fancy graphic signs that we helped pay for.
Attendees dressed in everything from workout wear to slacks and a nice shirt. So it was casual attire the whole weekend. I personally feel better and braver (more brave?) when I’m dressed a little better, so I went for slacks and a button down. Although I’d recommend a jacket, scarf, or vest, as the temperature in those conference rooms can fluctuate wildly.
Here are a few of the sessions that were offered:
Points Rookie Bootcamp, Computer tips and tricks, Frequent Miler Experiments, Managing Family Accounts, Credit Cards, Airline breakout sessions, Priceline & Hotwire, VRBO & Airbnb, Award bookings for Europe, Hotel Breakout sessions, ITA & Expert Flyer, Amtrak & Cruises, Award bookings for Asia, Mileage Runs, International Boot Camp, etc.
The sessions are great, and with so many to choose from I finally understood why people attended the conference again and again. There were several sessions I wanted to attend that were in the same time slot. Even the time between sessions and after the day finished were full of information. Everyone was so friendly. I have to say that I was introducing myself to people right and left, but it didn’t feel weird or forced. I think the main reason for this is that we are all equally strange. Joined together by this mutual interest or obsession, if that’s how you look at it.
I know at home, if someone gets me going, I will talk way too long or be way to detailed about a trip. Or I’ll interrogate a friend over their recent trip, always looking for ideas, recommendations and tips from friends. At Chicago Seminars, that’s to be expected. Most conversations would start with where you were from, how long you’d been traveling on points, where you’d been recently, what hotel/airline you were most familiar with, and what trips you were planning for the future.
I ended up attending 13 sessions and took over 12 pages of notes. So from a first timers perspective, the Chicago Seminar was definitely a success. You can check out my previous post about joining in on the points and miles game here. I think I need to go to another one before I even attempt any of the more advanced conferences. They limit the number of attendees at both events, so they can sell out rather quickly. When it fits my schedule again, I’ll register quickly and figure the rest out later. If for no other reason than to give my friends and family a break from my travel chatter. I’ll head to the Chicago Seminars for the weekend, and chat away.
Because at the Chicago Seminars, these are the people that chime in to the conversation, instead of letting their eyes roll and their facial expressions glaze over.
Not that my family ever does that…at least not to my face.