Originally this was only going to be one post. But it got so long, I had to break it up in 2 parts. Last weekend I attended an FTU event ( a conference for frequent flyer miles junkies) in Tampa and wanted to tell you a little about it. We do live in Florida about 1.5 hours away and I’m working on IHG big win, so it was a win-win. It was also a nice getaway for just me and my husband, yet another plus.
Unlike all my miles obsessed brethren who picked Hyatt as their lodging of choice, we stayed at Holiday Inn Express, Rocky Point Island. See photo above. No need for a separate post, it’s no Hyatt. Also, it was not as clean as I would like it to be. Not recommended, but it was OK for just one night. And I am keeping my eyes on the prize: 50,000 IHG points. I only attended Saturday sessions at FTU since I wanted to get back to my kids.
The ticket was a 100 dollars per person, which I thought was fair since they had to rent a ballroom in Grand Hyatt and also provided lunches. The event is non-profit, by the way. I think bloggers who are speakers are reimbursed for their travel expenses from the ticket sales, but I’m not positive on that. My main reason for going was to network and hopefully find some new readers. And also to thank Daraius from MMS blog in person for my interview.
First, I felt extremely awkward at the Friday cocktail reception since I literally knew nobody there. Everyone was in a their own circle and I wasn’t sure where to even start introducing myself. I did run into Kendra from “Pixie Dust” blog and she was just as cute and funky in person as she is in her posts.
I told her about my blog and knew instantly that she was familiar with it. My guess: the controversial part! A couple of minutes later a nice lady came up to me and said that she overheard my conversation with Kendra and that she loved my interview with Million Mile Secrets blog. That was a shocker, people actually know me!
We had a very nice conversation and she said, she would read my blog. Score! Then a couple of nice men came up to me and I continued my mission of finding new readers. One of them bought me a margarita. I still feel bad about that one, 10 bucks with tip. I’m middle class, ya’ll, not poor. I told him my blog is for an average reader. To that he said, I seemed above average intelligence.
Note to self: change the slogan of my blog! I wanted to meet Mr. Leff, Greg from Frequent Miler and Summer from Mommypoints . But there were always people around. I got to say “hi” to the first one briefly the next day, never met Greg. Wasn’t meant to be, I guess. I saw Ben from “One mile at a time” in the hallway and he knew who I was. I told him I enjoy his blog and he said, I do a great job as well.
Not sure if he meant it or was just trying to be nice. I did also get to talk to Summer and she was just as smart and friendly as I thought she would be from her posts. Now on to the bad part. There is no bad part. She is a classy, sweet lady! I did attend her presentation even though I’m not a beginner. The other choices were mileage runs and shopping portals, which don’t interest me. I thought Summer did a very good job with her presentation and I picked up some ideas for future posts.
There were a couple of surprises at the event. There was one older men who had a special belt with stacks of credit cards attached to it, probably 50 total at least. He was wearing it like a trophy. Move on over, Frequent Miler! This is what happens when you read one too many blogs.
The biggest surprise though was Daraius. That’s my terrible photo of him on the stage during one of his sessions. Anyway, I consider myself pretty good at figuring people out just from their blogs. Like if you assumed I am slightly crazy from my posts, you would be absolutely correct (crazy, like a fox) All other bloggers I met were just as I imagined them to be. But not him.
First, he had an accent, surprise number one. For some reason I thought he grew up in US or came here as a young child. But evidently he lived in India for some time, though of Parsi descent, just from his name. Also, from his posts he comes across as a mix of introvert and extrovert. Not so in real life.
Very much an introvert, just from the few minutes I talked to him. It’s clear, he is very uncomfortable at these type of events. He goes there solely to promote his business, not mingle and enjoy himself like other major bloggers do.
The first thing he told me:”Sorry, I can’t follow you on Twitter, I already follow 80 people,” in reference to this post CLICK Pfft, so? Some bloggers follow close to a thousand and they don’t seem to go “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” from the overload of tweets. Facebook, Daraius ?
I told you he reads my blog! Just another reason to recommend me to your family and friends. If it’s good enough for Daraius, blah blah blah. He seemed very much a perfectionist: crisp white shirt, polished shoes, fancy bow tie (of course). Bond, James Bond. Extremely nice obviously, no surprise there.
He also seemed nervous around me. Probably because he knew I would concoct this little gem when I got home. He is very bright and was on to me and my evil schemes. Daraius is an enigma of travel bloggers for me now. The one that got away. From my spot on analysis, that is. But I was VERY happy I got to thank him in person for my interview.
That being said, I’m coming for you, Daraius. And I’m taking it all. Should have joined me on Twitter like I told you to. But it’s too late now. You’ll be shopping for your bow ties on Ebay in no time!
When I sat on the bench, waiting for my husband to pick me up, a nice lady sat next to me. She told me she saw me at the conference and that I was beautiful. That made me feel all giddy inside! But only 2 minutes later and her statement how her grey hair made her look younger, and it was clear that she was mentally ill. That fact was confirmed by her as well. Sigh… Still, its nice to hear a compliment now and again. What the hey, I’ll take it!
The second part of this post is a bit controversial. Am I saying it so you would come back to read my next post? You bet. Am I a hater? We will find out soon enough.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.