If you’re new to the Chicago Seminars events — and I’m specifically talking about the events at the Delta Marriott Willowbrook and the Holiday Inn Elk Grove Village — here are some tips and suggestions I’ve come up with from my past however-many years of attending (and one of speaking!).
People of All Experiences and Knowledge Levels Attend
Some Chicago Seminars attendees have been to every event since the beginning, almost 15 years ago.
For others, it’s the first time.
Most of us fall somewhere in between.
So, what seems like something “common knowledge” or “easy” to some will be “advanced” to others.
And everyone’s been new at the hobby at some point (pun not intended).
A huge majority of Chicago Seminars attendees and speakers are very friendly. We share a passion many people find — um, how can I say this — strange. (“You have how many credit cards?” “You fly just for miles?” “You must really like Walmart!” “Why not just use a debit card?”)
”You didn’t know that?!”
I’d be shocked if at some point this weekend you don’t hear someone say, “You didn’t know that?!” or some variation thereof.
There are a couple of ways to take this.
Sure, there are a few people who think they know everything (spoiler alert: they don’t) and might say, “You didn’t know that?!” in a patronizing way. (Though these cretins are very few and far between at the Seminars.)
But you’re more likely to encounter someone saying “You didn’t know that?!” — and their eyes light up. I’ve been on both sides of this scenario. This generally means the person is excited to share something with you. They’re passionate about the topic and know the information will genuinely benefit your points, miles, and travel goals!
Come Prepared to Take Notes.
A lot of information will be thrown at you.
I mean, tons.
Unless you’re like Marilu Henner and have an autobiographical brain, you won’t remember a third of what you hear.
So, get ready to take pages and pages and pages of notes.
I bring my laptop and try not to type too loudly. 🙂 A tablet with a physical keyboard also works for me. But that’s because I type much faster than I write — and my handwriting has gone from decent to embarrassing during the past several years. (Even I can’t understand what I scribble.)
Some speakers will dish out information they don’t want shared everywhere. Please respect their wishes. They might offer some great tips about where to find amazing airfares, magical rates on hotel stays, or creative ways to spend money on your credit cards.
It’s likely those tips will disappear (or become greatly devalued) if you post them on social media, email all your friends, etc.
Please also ask about taking pictures of PowerPoint slides. Don’t just do it without a speaker’s permission.
A Q&A portion is part of nearly every session.
This kind of goes back to the “You didn’t know that?!” chat we had a few minutes ago.
Everyone learns something new every year.
You might be anxious to publicly ask questions during a Q&A if you’re like me and somewhat introverted. (But keep in mind that someone else might have the same question.)
If that’s the case, track down the speaker after their presentation or at some other point during the weekend.
The hotel bar is a great spot. That’s where more tips, tricks, and stories are shared. Beverages are consumed. Greasy appetizers are shared. Lifelong friendships are formed. In fact, that’s where you might learn some of the best information that weekend. If you see someone you recognize — maybe you saw them at hotel check-in, sat by them in a seminar, etc. — ask if you can join them.
I’ve seen this happen. A timid person joins a group and asks a question. Then a bunch of people get excited to share different ways to earn points, maximize time at a particular destination, etc.
The Buddy System
There are so many topics but such little time. This means there often are two or three sessions running concurrently. It’s inevitable that you’ll have at least two presentations you want to attend happen at the same time.
This is your time to meet new people and make friends.
Say you attend session “A.” See if you can organize a note swap with someone in session “B.” And, if necessary, session “C.”
I know this can be tough for people who have difficulty breaking out of their shells. Trust me: I’m generally one of them. But you can usually spot the friendly extroverts pretty quickly.
I’m genuinely excited for this weekend — and especially thrilled for first-time attendees! No matter which event you attend, I know you’re going to learn a lot. Plus, you’re going to have a great time.
This guy and I will speak at the Delta Marriott event. I’m also doing a quick hit during the Variety Show at some point on Friday. I’ll post that information on Thursday or Friday.
I hope to make it over to Shelby Campbell’s at the Holiday Inn at some point on Thursday or Friday.
Any general questions from Chicago Seminars first-timers? Any tips from veterans? Please ask and
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