Constructive Criticisms/Observations on FTU

Discussion in 'Frequent Traveler University' started by glennaa11, Apr 30, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. glennaa11

    glennaa11 Silver Member

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    I hope this comes across in the spirit in which it is intended. Let me preface by saying that I attended last weekend's FTU in the DC suburbs as well as the Chicago Seminar a couple of years ago. And I want to thank all of the volunteers and presenters for all of their time and efforts putting these events together. However, I think there are some things that could be improved so I hope a thread like this is welcomed in that spirit of improvement.

    I tend to spend more time over at FT than I do here at MP, but I've been participating in the hobby for a few years now and have used my miles and points to take some really great trips. So I am not a total newbie, but by no means am I an expert.

    1) I think it might be useful to publish a sentence or two description for each session (when it's not totally obvious, or maybe even then). Maybe an indication of who the intended audience is and what the objective is.

    1a) When there is a certain amount of assumed knowledge on the part of the audience it might be worth indicating that up front. For example, I enjoyed Seth's UA session but it was very jargony and assumed a good bit of knowledge of the program on the part of the audience.

    2) I have seen it mentioned in the main thread for the event that it seems like it would be nice to be able to put everyone's online handle/identity on their badge so it would be easier to match the person to the posts.

    3) The raffle seemed to go on way too long and had way too many amenity kits as prizes. Maybe give some away as door prizes or something if you have so many. Perhaps the raffle could have fewer, higher value prizes instead of so many with little value. I left early to go to another session since it was not in the same room as the raffle.

    4) Likewise the plane auction seemed to go on longer than necessary. I think it is great that you all are raising so much money for charity, but it seemed to be relevant to about 30 people who were part of the in-crowd and irrelevant to the other 600 people there.

    5) I know getting a sound system that works well in a room that large is very difficult. Some folks were harder to hear than others which I think mainly had to do with how they were wearing the microphones. So maybe a little bit more consistency or some training for the presenters is in order.

    6) For me personally I don't think I learned much that I didn't already know from reading blogs and following message boards like this one. But since the event was in my back yard I think it was worth going to. Partly I think these events are probably best for extroverts who enjoy meeting lots of new people. For an introvert like me that is really not something I do easily. And so from my perspective it seems like there is a small in-crowd group that have attended many events like this in the past and already know each other well and then a large crowd of newer folks who don't know anyone (other than maybe their spouse or friends who came with them). I'm not sure anything can or should be done about any of that, but it was my perception.

    7) I think in future FTU's it might make sense to have some more basic sessions for the newer folks who are interested more in things like how to locate and identify awards, maybe how-to's or tips on using tools like Expert Flyer or AwardNexus or whatever to find the segments/flights you want with some live examples. When to book online vs when to call on the phone. This goes back a bit to the point about assuming knowledge. Maybe identify session as being for beginners or advanced users or something like that.

    I think those are my main thoughts. Personally I really enjoyed Chris's talk about his visiting every country and Stefan's talk about the kind of travel he does and the out of the way places he goes the most. Seth's UA session had some good info and ideas on putting trips together. And the Launchpoint session was very interesting.
     
  2. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

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    Great feedback. It was specific and packed with easy ways for the team who put together FTU to action.


    I'll be at the Chicago seminars. Looking forward to it vey much.

    Sent from my iPad using milepoint
     
  3. tommy777
    Original Member

    tommy777 Co-founder

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to put together some very helpful feedback. Some really good suggestions here!

    A couple of comments and fun facts: The portal we're using is currently not letting us put handles in there, but we're launching a new portal this summer. Unfortunately, it won't be ready for the Tampa FTU, but we're working on it.

    Fun fact: 82% of the participant has never attended an FTU before, so many newbies, but I heard comments that the sessions were too newb and too advanced, so we should definitely try to define the sessions in the future.

    We'll be sending out a survey very soon to get even more feedback. I hope y'all take a few minutes to reply

    Thank you!
     
  4. nickfromct

    nickfromct Silver Member

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    Just to add my 2 cents here. I really enjoyed the FTU this past weekend. To further glennaa11's suggestion on the auction, it would be helpful to schedule a time in the agenda for the auction to keep the rest of the program on schedule. Also, for the smaller items, you may want to pre-pull the winning numbers and post them on a bulletin board somewhere, so people can check if they won at thier lesiure. The larger prizes can still be done live.

    I think Tommy's team does a great job with the event and am looking forward to attending many more.
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Sorry about that. Believe it or not, I was trying to keep it more simple than not. :oops:

    I hosted more or less this session at the FTU in LAX last year. It wouldn't be hard to do something like that again.

    I definitely agree that figuring out the audience is a key to a good presentation. I went in (and said to many people many times leading up to my session) not knowing who my audience was. That really makes it hard. I tried to measure the interest a bit at the beginning but I perhaps also should have asked about the experience.
     
  6. glennaa11

    glennaa11 Silver Member

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    It was OK for me. But I think if anyone there was a newb they might have been a little lost. Maybe there were none there. I enjoyed your session and it certainly was food for thought since I tend to book pretty straightforward point to point awards. Partly that's a function of the places I want to go but I might start trying to think a bit more creatively in the future. One thing I would suggest is trying to speak a little more slowly and clearly. Maybe it's a New York thing. :)
     
  7. philatravelgirl

    philatravelgirl Silver Member

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    I attend the GBTA conferences and they have a ribbon and tracking system. As FTU has grown so much, it may help to track out sessions now - new, intermediate, expert or by type -credit cards, family travel, tech. offer a 1st timers session to allow people to meet up and get a feel for the sessions - a set up in rounds would help everyone introduce themselves and have a few faces they know over the weekend so everyone has a chance to not be alone -

    I also would like screen names on badges which it seems is getting addressed but what about ribbons too so you can identify easier - 1st timer, speaker, blogger, etc?

    I met lots of folks w/blogs not on boarding area or other larger site, it would be nice to have blogger session/round table to exchange ideas, etc especially for those of us just starting out.

    I liked the drinks w/Ben in the lobby that I happened upon - that is a great idea for attendees to have a relaxed conversation sharing stories/experiences - am sure people would have liked this with all speakers

    It was a good weekend, I know how much work is involved so thank you to the organizers, presenters, speakers and volunteers -
     
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  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Story of my life, and I'm not a native New Yorker. :D

    I try, but I ran out of time even with as fast as I was talking and throwing information out there. Whoopsie.
     
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  9. cova

    cova Gold Member

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    Good points.

    3. I agree on the amenity kits. Too much time and of little to no value. I suggest prizes be limited to $50 or more with fewer prizes (ie no amenity kits or PJs). I think people would still buy raffle tickets - just with the chance to win a worth while prize. No place in the agenda was the raffle listed and it took about 1 hour.

    4. It might be worth having an out of room charity bid for the airplane/Randy luncheon. The few that are interested could go to a separate room and bid.

    5. I was a volunteer and was controlling the microphone volumes. I tried to make it as loud as reasonable without echo. One speaker requested it be turned down to minimize echo. This is a Milepoint Bose loud speaker system design for an audience of 500 - but the room was big and high. I suggest those that need the higher volume perhaps try to get a seat closer to the front.

    At previous FTUs and Chicago seminars, I found the presentations by employees of Expert Flyer and ITA Software on how to use their products was most beneficial. However, we did not have any of those types of presentations this time around.

    And I think most would have preferred more priority on Award Bookings and what sites and tools to use to find routings.

    I think most people come to FTU to:
    1. Learn about Mileage Running
    2. Learn about Booking Award Travel - ie use ANA site, Expert Flyer, etc.
    3. Learn about Credit Card deals and how best to maximize use.
    4. Learn how to use tools and how to determine inventory for upgrade and rewards

    I think many of the travel story type presentations are of limited interest to an FTU attendee.

    Just a thought on the Lauchpoint - $50K contest for entrepreneurs. Since you can only vote for 1 out of 10, perhaps a show of hands is not the best way to vote. Many of these presenters were sponsors of FTU and if they got only a couple of votes - they might think that it is not worth their effort to sponsor in the future. So not sure if this contest is good marketing for MilePoint.

    Anyway - overall a nice event.
     
  10. tommy777
    Original Member

    tommy777 Co-founder

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    Folks,

    As you probably understand, April and May was a very busy month for Randy and I with the Freddies, Travel Executive Summit, FTU and BAcon.

    Everyone who attended the FTU will soon receive a survey. I hope y'all take time to spend a few minutes giving us some feedback

    Thank you!
     
  11. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Looking back at glennaa11's feedback on the April FTU, I think most of it is equally applicable to the recent Tampa FTU.

    In particular, session descriptions were not specific enough: it would have helped me to know the amount of knowledge each talk assumed. Likewise, I wish you had let us know what tools & techniques you're going to demonstrate so we would judge whether we already know the material and should go to a different session. Even consider erring on the side of saying too much. Ideally, create a curriculum so the same material isn't presented over and over.
     
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  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Voting went much better this time IMO. Fewer than 10% of the votes were cast manually; the rest were handled electronically and there was even an audit trail.
    Sure...just as soon as there is actually new material to fill 30+ hours of sessions every 6 months. And, quite frankly, that's not going to happen anytime soon.
     
  13. paladinua

    paladinua Silver Member

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    So - definitely thought the voting via text was a very cool approach. Kudos to you Wandering Aramean for that!

    Having attended only two FTUs, I thought that there was some new stuff in this compared to the previous one. It's an interesting balance, right, because you really do want to have some consistent material / sessions, such as beginners, because we always have new folks joining us, and we want to embrace that, but new stuff, or more "open" format type sessions help to keep it fresh for those of us who return. I don't know who does the schedule, and decides on the content, but I'm sure it is a challenging and delicate balance -- I thought it was mostly achieved for FTUTampa though.
     
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  14. fulthrust7

    fulthrust7 Member

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    I guess Gary and team have taken some action w FTU Advanced...great idea. We'll have to see content...
     
  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Thanks...after the first voting in DC where they were counting hands and hoping they got everyone I knew there had to be a better way. Plus it was fun to program it. :D

    Only if you're one of the first 100ish to register, though.

    I've chosen not to present at the FTU Advanced sessions. Partly because I don't know that I have that much extra to offer at an advanced session and partly because I'd much rather present to more people more often and help a broader group get over the first hump and into the game than play the edge cases so much.
     
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  16. cova

    cova Gold Member

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    Looks like this thread is reopened for FTU Seattle comments:

    Just a few comments:
    1. I thought the best presentations were ones with well planned set of power point charts, such as Manufactured Spend. Scott also did good job on AS and AS Credit card for example.

    2. Hold all questions until the end - say last 10 minutes. Let the presenter go through the entire presentation first.

    3. What was supposed to be the main topic sessions - mileage run and awards - turned out to be pretty much ad lib Q&A with really no formal presentation. Ben had his standard Mileage run charts - but too many questions and discussion side track it. And Gary mostly just ad lib'ed.

    4. The live award booking using UA site is repeated all the time - but never really comes to a conclusion. I think totally planned screen shots of award bookings presented in order of each entry - are as good as live - even better, since they can be prepared or created at key times when certain conditions exist. Showing QF award availability on AA site is useless if done live at 2pm, which will never show any availability. You need charts showing situation at midnight and then at times in the middle of the night. You can't do that live at a day session.

    5. Overall the Q&A main sessions - were not that informative and only focused on the discussions of the few who asked questions.

    My understanding is FTU Advanced is going to be small groups of say 15 people involved in discussions. I am hoping we see more in depth discussion and planned charts.

    But of course it is the networking where you really learn at FTU.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
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