My review on FTU Chicago; tracking hacking conference

I was a bit excited to go to FTU 2017 in Chicago. Learning new travel hacking tips and tricks from the pros / attendees; or so I thought. It was a bit of a snoozefest to be honest.

If you read a lot of the travel hacking blogs, as I do, you’ll probably already know most of the things that are going to be said at FTU. Apparently manufactured spend “MS” is popular with the crowd, but only in the US so doesn’t really apply to us in Asia.

Bought a Signature ticket for $249US and felt it wasn’t worth going at all. The conference is fairly amateurish and not well organized. Every speaker had problems with their projector and microphone, and were complaining about them at the beginning of each session. You’d think someone would’ve ran to BestBuy after the first day or morning and bought some better ones.

The speakers weren’t really that good at presenting, a few were bloggers or had written articles, but you can tell they’re not usually speakers. Lack of enthusiasm and droning voices were a common theme. I’m sure they’re great at travel hacking and blog writing, just not the best presenters at sharing that information.

Many attendees also were complaining the topics didn’t have any descriptions. It’s hard to know what a talk is going to be about from title alone.

I’m probably being super harsh, but if you’re going to position it as an expert conference, then I’d expect more. If you’re new to travel hacking, or want to be involved with more things, this is probably a good conference for you.

The demographic is 95% white & basically 2/3rds retired. People with a lot of time on their hands and just figuring out the best way to travel for less. Very American crowd. There were a few interesting folks though, and it was interesting the different ways people accumulate and use their miles and points.

Even the presentation room with the sponsors room was sad, EVA Airlines was supposed to be big sponsor, but they just had a table there with some Hello Kitty amenities. I did get a GoGo Internet pass though for one day!

The best thing was the breakfast spreads in the am, and lunch was decent since it was included. Personally I thought TBEX was a lot more interesting with different topics, and cost less. Granted it’s not travel hacking specific, but they do cover it. I won’t be going to a FTU event again.




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  • The bloggers need a venue to promote themselves, so it is all self-serving. Hope prospective attendees find your review the next time they do a google search.

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