FlyerTalk Travel Loyalty Program Seminars Chicago Oct 16-17

Frugal Travel Guy, Rick Ingersoll (ingy) and friends have put together an incredible weekend of loyalty program seminars covering airlines, rental cars, and hotels. The event is open for registration today and hotel room bookings at the Holiday Inn Elk Grove seminar location.

All the details are listed on the first page of this FlyerTalk thread.

You may want to register for the seminars and book a room quickly as this event looks like it has already generated a groundswell of interest.

Satori is presenting a Loyalty Traveler hotel programs seminar at the Chicago FlyerTalk MegaDO this October 16-17. I realized this morning that I am the only presenter in the FlyerTalk line-up who is listed by my real name, Ric Garrido, rather than my FlyerTalk handle – satori.

You may not know that Ric Garrido, the Loyalty Traveler also posts as “satori” on FlyerTalk since I probably have the lowest post count (1,838 posts in 10.6 years) and lowest per day posting average (0.48 posts per day for the past decade) of all the presenters after 11 years hanging out on FlyerTalk since May 1999.

Here is my seminar description that I quickly wrote in a few minutes so the agenda will likely change as I actually create a presentation.

Seminar #6 Hotel Loyalty Progams

Actual Scheduled Time is Sunday, Oct 17, 11AM to 12:45 PM

Ric Garrido Quote “Are you getting at least 100% return on investment for your annual hotel spend? If you are not getting $6,000+ in hotel stay value for $3,000 in hotel spend, then you are probably not aware of the best promotions or program benefits for your travel style.

* Cheap Elite (How little can I spend and maintain top-elite status?)
* Surveying top-elite status across hotel programs (Who gets what at hotels when you are elite?)
* Comparative value of points across programs. (What does 1,000 points buy in award value?)
* Advice for finding the lowest hotel rates that still earn points (tips for finding low rates on hotel’s corporate websites, including Special Offers, Twitter and Facebook.)
* Advice for finding lower hotel rates when a cheap room is more important than points (Forget the points! Employee rates; cheap night deals).
* How online travel agencies fit into the hotel loyalty program world and when to use an online travel agency
* Hotel mattress runs (Tips on planning and how to not ruin a vacation trip with someone you love)
* Survey of Points-to-Miles exchange rates across hotel programs (If SPG is your only miles exchange program, then you are missing out on some better deals.)
* Buying points (Tips and advice)
* Best value awards (Cash & Points, Hotel + Miles packages, PointBreaks/Savers/Stretchers)
* Aspirational hotel loyalty awards (Paradise with an ocean view!)
* Hotel Loyalty Planning for 2011 (What will happen after two years of unprecedented loyalty promotions?)

I welcome additional topic suggestions from potential seminar participants.”

Here is the Seminar line-up and registration information as shown on FlyerTalk:

Chicago Seminar DO October 16th and 17th 2010

The stars aligned somehow and a host of speakers are available to put on multiple seminars all in one weekend this fall in the Windy City.

The event will be October 16th and 17th And here is the seminar lineup:

1. Rookie Bootcamp led by Bikeguy
2. Mileage Run #1 with Viajero Joven as leader. Hooray VJ is back.
3. Mileage Run #2 with Wanaflyforless
4. Booking Award Travel by Gleff
5. Good Credit = Free Travel and How to Bump by Ingy and Lucky9876coins
6. Hotel Loyalty Programs by Ric Garrido of the Loyalty Traveler blog
7. The Rental Car Kings with Mrp Alert and Evan!
8. The Legends of Flyertalk with confirmations so far by Pudding Guy, Beaubo, MrPickles, Wanaflyforless and more to come. Yes, we have asked Randy.
9. Coupon Connection Event moderated by Beaubo
10. Alliance Roundtable with Wanaflyforless on OneWorld, Beaubo on Skyteam and Gleff on the Star Alliance. The LCC’s will also be included
11. Sponsors Roundtable will offer eight 10 to12 minutes presentations by those websites, resorts, etc supporting this event.


Registration is Now Open for the Chicago Seminar DO

1. No one under 18 will be allowed in the presentation rooms for any reason for any amount of time. No exceptions. If you must bring someone who can’t be left alone, you will need to arrange for a babysitter. PM the Chicago local contact “toomanybooks,” who will look into that possibility.

2. We are requesting no media and no recording or video of any of the presentations.

3. You may register for 5 seminars plus the Rookie Bootcamp and the Sponsors Roundtable.

(Remember that Mileage Run #1 is a 4-hour event and will count as 2 of your 5 seminars.)

4. Note that 2 seminars will be running at all times, except during Rookie Bootcamp and the Sponsors Workshop. Please make sure you aren’t selecting two simultaneous seminars. Seminar Hopping is disrespectful to the presenters and disruptive to the audience. Please refrain from “hopping”

5. Edwin “Win” Schaeffer (“toomanybooks” on Flyertalk) is handling the registration fees and tabulating your seminar selections.


The two methods for paying the $20 registration fee are:

A. Paypal to Win’s account.
The Paypal address is
This method is greatly preferred, because you will be registered instantly. If you can pay from your Paypal balance or from your checking account (choose “personal”), you will save us the 2.9% + 30 cents fee.

See details here:

B. Check or money order payable to “Edwin Schaeffer” and mailed to PO Box 335, Flossmoor, IL 60422.
In this case, you will be registered when your check clears. Should we have a flood of registrations, which is likely considering the many responses we have had (both public and private), it is possible that we will fill up before your check can even arrive, so please try to use Paypal if at all possible.

Using either method we need the following information (put it in the Paypal memo box):
1. Your name, address, and phone number.
2. Email address
3. Flyertalk handle (preferred) or a six to eight character “handle of your choosing.” This will be used to notify you that your registration has been completed. We don’t want to post your real name online. You will be able to access the registrant information either at a Google Doc we are establishing, or in the thread itself for the seminars. Please check it for accuracy.
Notes accompanying your registration should look like this:

Jane Doe, 123 Main St, Chicago,IL 98765, 202-123-4567,, Seminars # 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10

Note: this example includes the Rookie Bootcamp, hence 6 seminars.

Remember that Mileage Run #1 (seminar #2) is 4 hours long and counts as 2 of your 5 (or 7 with Bootcamp and Sponsors) seminars.

None of the meeting organizers is being compensated from these fees although leftover funds may help with their lodging expenses. The presenters are generously paying their own way to the event.

6. Please note that we reserve the right to change the schedule depending on number of responses or other contingencies. If very few people are interested in a specific seminar, it might be canceled or held after hours in the lounge or something.

7. We will certainly need volunteers to handle various tasks such as coordinating carpools to/from ORD. PM “toomanybooks” if you can help.

8. Host hotel reservation procedures are described below in the Meeting Planners Post. This hotel will probably sell out quickly as the per night charge is quite reasonable. Those staying onsite will be provided free breakfast and lunch both days (1st occupant per room) and a two-hour cocktail party Saturday evening. People staying offsite or at home or the second person in a room will pay for those things separately. Please follow the information in the post below:

We will be using two separate seminar rooms and anticipate the following schedule: Subject to change (based on who knows what at this point?)


8AM to 9 Breakfast

9AM to 9:45 AM Rookie Bootcamp

9:45 AM to 10 Coffee Break

10AM to 11:45 Mileage Run Seminar 1(part 1) or Award Booking

11:45 to 1:00 PM Lunch

1:00PM to 2:45 PM Mileage Run Seminar 1(part2) or The Rental Car Kings

2:45PM to 3:00 PM Coffee Break

3PM to 5PM Mileage Run Seminar 2 or Good Credit and Bumps

5:00 PM to 6:30 PM Relax It’s been a long day

6:30PM to 8:30PM Meet for Dinner (onsite or offsite) or on your own

8:30PM to 10:30PM Open Bar Reception for Hotel Guests


8AM-9AM Breakfast

9AM to 10:45 AM Sponsors Workshop

10:45 AM to 11 AM Coffee Break

11AM to 12:45PM Alliance Roundtable or Hotel Loyalty Programs

12:45 AM to 2:00 PM Lunch

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM Coupon Connection or Legends of Flyertalk

4PM Close and Have a Safe Trip Home

Check out the Chicago Seminar DO

Satori’s Background

My first miles coup was the Healthy Choice chocolate pudding deal (120,000 miles for $500) in May and June 1999. This same deal made FlyerTalk’s Pudding Guy a legend when he earned 1.25 million miles for around $3,200. You may see there is a discrepancy in the math – Pudding Guy got 10x more miles for 6x more dollars. Pudding Guy got his UPC pudding stickers posted by the May 31 deadline for double miles and I only had a portion of my pudding receipts purchased and mailed by May 31, 1999. Pudding Guy is scheduled to be at the Chicago Do. In retrospect everyone thinks what a great deal and why didn’t I get in on it? They don’t know what it was like to wonder if Healthy Choice would even honor the discount priced pudding cups from Canned Food Warehouse purchases. Like most gambles the deal looks great after you win.

I planned and purchased my first 300,000 bonus miles mileage run from the information I learned on FlyerTalk before I even joined the FlyerTalk bulletin board in November 1999. I should have earned 400,000 bonus miles from my five airline oneworld alliance industrial tour of Manchester, Rotterdam, and Barcelona, however, I was still a novice at the fine art of deciphering airline partner eligible booking codes in 1999.

I never made that mistake again.

In 2000 I completed the LatinPass 1,000,000 mile promotion. I used the Healthy Choice miles to fly to Miami and Ecuador for the start of the LatinPass trips. I had a scary moment when the Quito airport police pulled me out of line and wanted to know why I had left Quito, Ecuador flown to Lima, Peru and back to Quito again on the same day. I barely made my flight.

In 2001 I traveled to Asia several times when United had Singapore-San Francisco tickets for under $300 all-in. Notice the starting city was Singapore. I used miles to get to Singapore to start back-to-back mileage runs. I reached Mileage Plus 1K with a terribly sore butt. My wife and I had the month of October 2001 off in our year-round school teaching schedule and we traveled to Europe several times on the incredible bargains after 9-11 while visiting our parents on stopovers in the states.

In 2002 we earned 500,000 miles for under $2,000 with the Star Alliance 5th anniversary promotion.

In 2003 I started focusing on hotel travel and we earned 120,000 Starpoints for $1,800 while touring Australia during Starwood’s Asia-Pacific promotion to Stay in 5 Starwood Hotel brands for 50,000 bonus points.

It was a tough decision to go to Australia in 2003 since I had already planned a trip across Scandinavia using Scandic Hotels at 10,000 HHonors points per night. Then HHonors changed their award chart and I cashed 800,000 points for GLON 6-night awards before the rate went up from 100,000 points to 150,000 points. The British Airways award changes in June 2003 were the deciding factor. The cost of BA First Class from USA-London-Asia-Australia increased from 150,000 miles to 420,000 miles. My wife and I planned a 5 week trip to Europe and Australia in First Class, while earning 120,000 Starpoints in Australia and staying a couple of weeks in European Hilton Hotels for free. The $56,000 First Class tickets cost about $500 all-in after taxes. BA had to pay Australia a $5,000AUD fine when I arrived in Melbourne and the immigration officials learned that BA had never issued an electronic visa for my arrival. My face dropped when immigration took me to the special room at 4am until the officer finally explained that BA was responsible for paying the fine and not me.

In 2003 I earned 140,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for $700 with 35 flight segments across the Pacific Northwest. My wife flew British Airways First Class to Europe using 100,000 Alaska miles.

I accumulated about 4,000,000 miles from mileage runs between 1999 and 2004. I earned another 1,000,000 or so miles from internet shopping portals like ClickRewards, MyPoints, GreenPoints, and a whole slew of other programs that offered miles and hotel points until the markets crashed and most of these programs went out of business by 2001.

I haven’t done a mileage run since 2007 when I flew back-to-back trips from Buenos Aires to New York in Delta Business Class on $500 tickets. I finally found satori flying over the Andes of Chile and Argentina and like Tom Hanks character in Forrest Gump, I just stopped running.

Hyper-mobility across the globe was replaced by a desire to spend more time with family and hang out in nice hotel rooms at a leisurely pace.  

Hope to see you in Chicago.

1 Comment

  • Erich May 13, 2010

    I’m registered and looking forward to your presentation!

Comments are closed.