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8th Annual Chicago Seminars - October 20 - 22, 2017

Old Mar 17, 2017, 11:12 am
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: Middle_Seat
Dates for 2017 event are: Oct 20-22, 2017

* Event Registration: http://chicagoseminars2017.eventbrite.com - lunch and daily snacks are included in registration (breakfast is NOT included in registration ... see below)
* Hotel registration is in post # 2 (Breakfast for 1 is included in room rate). Host hotel is SOLD OUT.
* Schedule of weekend events is in post #3.
* Current event sponsors in post #4 (and email provided if someone is interested in sponsoring)
* Some info re: charity raffle is in post #5.
* Request for volunteers is in post #6. (volunteers get a thanks & handshake - and an apple).
* A full list of the current speakers is in post #7

The Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn (+1-847-437-6010) shuttle normally leaves the hotel on the hour and the airport on the half hour. Domestic arrivals pick up at Door 2, international arrivals at Door 5E.
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8th Annual Chicago Seminars - October 20 - 22, 2017

Old Feb 27, 2017, 10:15 am
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8th Annual Chicago Seminars - October 20 - 22, 2017

If you want some history on the event take a look at the 2016 discussion or previously linked threads. This is the 8th year for this all volunteer event.

Last year we raised over $15,000 for charity and based on the feedback from attendees, sponsors and speakers it was a great success.

Same format, same venue.

Registration: http://chicagoseminars2017.eventbrite.com

Last edited by thehowieee; Apr 2, 2017 at 1:13 pm
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Old Feb 27, 2017, 10:15 am
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Hotel Registration Information

Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village

Please complete your registration from a desktop/laptop. Mobile booking doesn't work properly with the link.

Overflow Hotel Holiday Inn Chicago West-Itasca -- $94/night 1 king or 2x double

For those staying at the overflow hotel, here is the shuttle schedule to the host hotel:

430pm Depart to Holiday Inn Elk Grove
915pm Depart from Holiday Inn Elk Grove

8am Depart to Holiday Inn Elk Grove
915pm Depart from Holiday Inn Elk Grove


730am Depart to Holiday Inn Elk Grove
415pm Depart from Holiday Inn Elk Grove

If you need transportation mid-day I would recommend an Uber or finding a friend with a car.

Last edited by thehowieee; Oct 12, 2017 at 1:53 pm
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Old Feb 27, 2017, 10:16 am
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Event Schedule


2pm - 3pm - Pre-Registration Small Group Credit Card Discussions. These small group breakouts will be moderated by some of our speakers who have volunteered extra time to spend chatting about credit cards and reward strategies. You don't need to register for this now, however, prior to the event, a survey will be sent out to inquire if you're interested in participating. We want to make sure we have enough people to cover so we can keep the groups small.

4pm - 8pm - Registration Desk Open

5pm - 6pm - Welcome to Chicago Seminars & Tips on a Successful Event (thehowieee / AwardWallet) - An Introduction to the Chicago Seminars, some tips on how to get the most out of the weekend and an open forum to ask any event-related questions.

615pm - 715pm

Introduction to Manufactured Spending (Ren / RensPoints) - A beginners look answering the questions What is Manufactured Spending? What are the different types, risks, and rewards of "MS"? Can this help me travel for less?

Advanced Mileage Run Techniques (John / laptoptravel) - Beyond the simple hit & miss or ‘fare alerts’ a hobbyist might stumble upon, this session will provide some rarely shared techniques to make Mileage Run discoveries more efficient and productive. This seminar is not for the inexperienced; it is best if you come with some knowledge of using either Kayak or Priceline Multi-City Booking Tools, ITA Matrix or comparable first-hand experience in constructing your own Mileage Runs. I will share with you some insight on how to tweak even other’s fare alerts to meet your needs or improve upon the rewards. I will share a couple of my own Mega Mileage Run examples to the participants. This seminar will also include a brief question and answer session near its conclusion.

Booking Travel for Five or More (Dave / Bikeguy on FlyerTalk) - When you're a solo traveler or a couple looking to cash in miles you often have struggles with finding just the right flights ... but what about trying to make it happen for five or more people?

730pm - 830pm

Mattress Running for Hotel Status & Promotions (John / laptoptravel) - This seminar will show you how to identify opportunities to capitalize on hotel promotions to maximize your return on investment. This seminar will also teach you how to plot and plan a systematic approach to a mattress run. As an example, I will share my personal example of 16 stays in 16 nights; with no consecutive nights at any property. This seminar is for anyone that is willing to put in some time to research and put together an action plan for success. No prior knowledge or experience with mattress running is necessary. I will share with you insight on where to identify opportunities to achieve and maintain hotel elite status and quantify the true costs of getting and keeping that status. This seminar will also include a brief question and answer session near its conclusion.

Ask Me Anything with Tiffany from One Mile at a Time (Tiffany / One Mile at a Time) - Looking for a chance to get YOUR question answered by an expert in every aspect of the points and miles world? (she won't admit to it, but she is). Bring your out of the box questions to try and stump Tiffany.

Ask Me Anything with Howie from AwardWallet (Howie / AwardWallet) - Not nearly as smart as Tiffany, but Howie knows a thing or two about managing credit cards and rewards programs for large groups of people (e.g. his extended family and clients)


8am - 12pm - Registration Desk Open

830am - 930am - Using Points & Miles to get to Necker Island (Greg / Frequent Miler) - Greg wasn't able to make it to the Chicago Seminars last year, he and his wife were busy hanging out with Richard Branson on Necker Island -- all done with points. He'll tell his story and hopefully inspire you to up your commitment to points and miles.

945am - 1045am

Advanced Credit Cards (Stefan / Rapid Travel Chai) - Banks are getting smart, so we need to be smarter. Learn the latest developments and techniques for maximizing credit card rewards and benefits. Explore little-known cards, cards for heavy manufactured spend, and more.

Booking your first award (Tiffany / One Mile at a Time) - The fundamentals needed to book your first award ticket, including understanding alliances and partnerships, general tactics for finding award space, and what to expect when it's time to use your miles.

Kimpton Hotels: The Most Rewarding Hotel Loyalty Program You've Never Heard Of (Lee / BaldThoughts.com) - With programs merging and benefits being slashed Kimpton stands tall at providing some of the most (if not THE MOST) rewarding benefits of any loyalty program out there. If you like fantastic hotels and even better service, this could be your hotel loyalty program of choice.

11am - 12p

Unique Award Redemptions (Richard Kerr / Award Travel 101) - Covering award redemptions including Noumea to the 5 stopovers and 2 open jaws of Asia Miles. This seminar will have a specific focus on allowed routings of lesser-studied transfer partners and even some of the most well-known programs people over look.

Introduction to Reselling of Gift Cards and Merchandise (Shawn Coomer / Miles to Memories) - One of the most lucrative ways to accumulate massive amounts of points and miles is through product reselling. Whether you're buying/selling through Amazon or through gift card resellers, merchandise arbitrage can help build you a hefty balance in your travel bank and at the same time open an opportunity to make some cash and easily meet any minimum spend requirements.

Airbnb Tips & Hacks (Scott Grimmer / Mile Value) - Scott stays with Airbnb almost 300 days a year. If you want some good advice on picking the right Airbnb, saving money, and negotiating price this is for you.

12pm - 1pm - Lunch

1pm - 2pm

Sweet Spot Award Redemptions (Scott Grimmer / Mile Value) - Whether you dream of a huge, round-the-world trip or just want to find the best use for each of your mileage balances, you need to know the sweet spots on each miles' award charts. This presentation will cover some sweet spots with United, American, Delta, Alaska, Singapore, Korean, Flying Blue and many more miles. Plus there will be example itineraries that string together several miles' sweet spots into amazing trips.

Expert Reselling of Gift Cards and Merchandise (Shawn Coomer / Miles to Memories) - This session is NOT for the beginner. You should have experience in reselling as the basics won't be covered. Learn how to scale your operation properly, and maximize your return with reselling. Looking to make it a full-time operation? This is for you.

Ask Me Anything (Richard Kerr / Award Travel 101)

215pm - 315pm

101 Tips, Tricks, and Hacks to be an Expert Traveler (Stefan / Rapid Travel Chai) - A fun, practical romp through the world of travel in 101 tips from miles and points to what to do on the road to be an expert traveler. If you've never had a layover in a Japanese love hotel, this session is for you!

Sustainable and Enriching Family Points and Miles Strategies (Richard Kerr / Award Travel 101) - Richard shares everything he considers as a traveling family of four on how to get the most points and miles and get the most out of his points and miles. He'll share the backpack on top of a diaper bag with a baseball cap trick to make people think the Southwest seat is full and discuss how to strategically book the same flight with different programs so you can protect yourself in case of delays and cancellations.

Honeymoon Destination: Earth (Nick Reyes / Frequent Miler) - How a year of collecting miles and connecting dots led to a 4-month honeymoon around the world and how you can plan the ultimate romantic getaway -- whether to beautiful beaches or off the beaten track.

4pm - 5pm

Greatest Deals and Promos of All Time and How to Evaluate a Deal (Dave / Bikeguy on FlyerTalk) - A combination of a trip down memory lane and how to quickly evaluate a deal to determine whether to participate and at what level. Dave will cover why always having a calendar with open weekends or weeks available can be a big benefit. He'll tackle the effort versus reward challenge, how fast a deal is likely to get pulled, and your tolerance for risk. Lastly, he'll cover not taking anything for granted -- if a deal is there, you have to take advantage of it now because it probably won't be there tomorrow.

Ask Me Anything with Frequent Miler (Greg / Frequent Miler) - Greg is an expert on how to pick up mass amounts of points and miles without setting foot on a plane or spending a night in a hotel. Spend an hour picking his brain where you can ask him anything -- maybe he's headed back to Necker?

How to Maximize Hotel Points with Category 1 and 2 Redemptions (Dan / Points with a Crew) - It seems that many folks talk about how they stay for free in 5-star hotels using miles and points. And while that is one way to travel, did you know that in some programs, you can get up to 20 nights at a lower level hotel for the SAME amount of points as 1 night at a top-tier hotel. And we're not talking about roach motels here - these can be some pretty nice places! Learn how to maximize your hotel points with Category 1 and 2 redemptions.

515pm - 615pm

Cards with Benefits (Nick Reyes / Frequent Miler) - Rewards-earning cards are much more than the points and miles associated with them. Nick will review everything about leveraging your card's ancillary benefits to get an outsized value to save you time and money.

You Can Fight Citi Hall: Lessons From a Shutdown and Arbitration (Eddy) - A real example and experience from one of our own who just concluded an adventure battling Citibank after they closed his four credit card accounts, bank accounts, and ThankYou points account confiscating about 500,000 ThankYou Points. You've got always to keep your head in the game, and if you want some lessons learned about what matters to the biggest reward currency providers out there, this is for you.

Avoiding shutdowns / Financial Reviews and Customer Services levels (Ren / RensPoints.com) - Want to avoid having your rewards confiscated? Don't want to spend time providing tax returns and reviewing your financials with the banks? You should listen to what Ren has to say.

7pm - 8pm

Happy Hour / Reception in Woodfield Ballroom

SUNDAY OCTOBER 22ND (All Sunday Sessions are open to all)

8am - 9am - Open Panel Discussion on Credit Cards

9am - 10am - Sponsors Workshop

10am - 11am - Charity Raffle

1115am - 1215pm - Hotel Breakouts

1215pm - 115pm - Lunch

115pm - 230pm - Airline Breakouts

245pm - 4pm - Event Closing & Open Panel on Everything Else Moderated by Stefan / Rapid Travel Chai

5pm - 7pm - Departures Happy Hour 5-7 pm hosted by Stefan / Rapid Travel Chai (not included in event ticket - pay for what you consume)

Last edited by thehowieee; Oct 23, 2017 at 7:03 pm
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Old Feb 27, 2017, 10:17 am
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Event Sponsors

Our event sponsors are:

The Plastic Merchant

We have room for 8. Please contact [email protected] if you're interested in sponsoring.

Sponsorship is $1,000 and includes one (1) registration, an 8' booth in the registration/atrium area along with 15 minutes to speaking time on Sunday during the Sponsor's Workshop.

Our sponsors allow us to keep registration costs down, please consider sponsoring and pass this info on to anyone else that you think would be a good sponsor.

Last edited by thehowieee; Aug 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm
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Old Feb 27, 2017, 10:17 am
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Charity Raffle & Donations

"Hi, everyone! Yup, it's me - SkiAdcock, the Charity Raffle Queen, the one who runs around yelling ge-e-e-t your tickets, ge-e-e-t your tickets!

Once again we'll have great prizes, and in addition to cash, we will accept credit cards via whatever app Howie has this year.

Prizes to be detailed as seminar gets closer. In years past we've had such things as Kindles, free nights at Marriotts in NYC & Vegas, 50% off Starwood stays, AA & UA systemwide int'l upgrades, etc. We expect to have even more great prizes this year!

If you have something you would like to donate to the charity raffle, please PM me (SkiAdcock).

Yes, I'll need volunteers to help w/ ticket sales and distributing prizes on Sunday. Volunteers do not miss any sessions, as sales occur in between sessions. If you're interested in volunteering w/ charity raffle, PM me (SkiAdcock).

We pick three great charities each year, and monies raised are divided between them. We owe it all to you, our generous FT/IF/blog followers!

Each year we've beaten the previous record of what was donated. Let the FT Chicago Seminar Event Charity Raffle tradition continue!"

Last edited by thehowieee; Mar 17, 2017 at 8:33 am
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Old Feb 27, 2017, 10:18 am
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Opportunities to Volunteer

Just as an FYI for anyone wondering, volunteers do not get free registration. As a volunteer, you get a firm handshake and a thank you.. Please email [email protected] if you'd like to help out and with what.

330pm - 6pm -- John L, + Prat + Craig B
6pm - 8pm -- 2 people needed

8a - 945a -- Cameron H. + Jeff F + 1 person needed
945a - 11a -- 2 people needed
11a - 12p -- Norma S + 1 more

Projector / Tech Support: -- Jamie L & Joe Wu

Apples - Mark

Breakout Session Moderators / Leaders:
American -- Kevin Song
Delta -- Ren from RensPoints.com
Southwest -- Shawn Coomer / Miles to Memories & Richard Kerr / Award Travel 101
United -- Ricardo R. from PointsFitness.com
International & Others -- Stefan / Rapid Travel Chai

Hilton -- Ariana Arghandewal / PointChaser
Hyatt -- Shawn Coomer / Miles to Memories & Richard Kerr / Award Travel 101
IHG --
Marriott -- SkiAdcock
Starwood -- Tiffany / One Mile at a Time

Last edited by thehowieee; Oct 14, 2017 at 3:43 am
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Old Feb 27, 2017, 1:47 pm
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Wahooo! Has it been a year already? Looking forward to another great year in Chi-town and hearing from this great list of speakers:

Greg - Frequent Miler
Ren - RensPoints
John - Laptoptravel
Nick - Frequent Miler
Stefan - Rapid Travel Chai
Dan - Points with a Crew
Shawn - Miles to Memories
Richard - Award Travel 101
Lee - BaldThoughts
Tiffany - One Mile at a Time
Dave - Bikeguy on FlyerTalk
Howie - AwardWallet
Angelia - Angelina Travels
Scott - Mile Value

Last edited by Renes Points; Sep 20, 2017 at 10:36 am Reason: added speakers list
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Old Mar 3, 2017, 10:27 am
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Would love to volunteer or speak..
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Old Mar 4, 2017, 12:42 pm
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Let's hope IHG doesn't do that silly "book and stay during promotion period" for the Q4 Accelerate. This always helps me with that promo!
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Old Mar 5, 2017, 11:43 am
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WOW! We have been looking at flight schedules for a few weeks!

So much better prepared for the next one...
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Old Mar 13, 2017, 9:36 pm
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Registration will open Friday, March 31, 2017 @ 12pm Eastern. Sorry, life got in the way and have to get a bunch still done
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Old Mar 16, 2017, 5:19 pm
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Flights and car booked ... with Chase points

Now that I am a "Spire" Elite Member I guess that means I get the suite upgrade?
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Old Mar 16, 2017, 8:32 pm
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Originally Posted by TexasYankee
Flights and car booked ... with Chase points

Now that I am a "Spire" Elite Member I guess that means I get the suite upgrade?
Talk to your mileage run buddy
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Old Mar 16, 2017, 10:56 pm
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Originally Posted by thehowieee
Same hotel, different registration link. The entire hotel is blocked so please don't try to make a reservation, they won't open up any space, even using our booking code until I give them the word
JSYK, doesn't appear to be the case... hotel is currently bookable on IHG.com.
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Old Mar 17, 2017, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by javabytes
JSYK, doesn't appear to be the case... hotel is currently bookable on IHG.com.
Ruh roh. thanks.
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