Big news this week: the Canadian Points University, or PointsU for short, is back!
The 2017 edition of this nationwide meeting of minds among Miles & Points lovers will be taking place in Calgary on the weekend of Saturday, November 4, at the Marriott In-Terminal Hotel Calgary Airport.
The number of Canadians out there who feverishly collect points in order to maximize their travel is greater than you might think.
Speaking from experience, when I first started out in this game, the vast majority information that was available in blogs and forums online seemed to be geared towards our neighbours to the south. The Canadian points landscape seemed to be nascent at best and fragmented at worst.
Indeed, it's taken us a while to come into our own. It wasn't until last year that Boris and Jason, two lovely guys who had been playing the loyalty game for many years, decided to put on a conference to bring the Canadian Miles & Points community together.
PointsU Vancouver took place in January 2016, and from what I hear, it was an amazing event, with all those in attendance coming away from it with knowledge, inspiration, and most importantly of all, a stronger network of like-minded travellers.
Inspired by the success of #PointsUYVR, the conference came to Toronto last October for the #PointsUYYZ edition. That was when I decided to go and see what it was all about.
Why Should You Attend PointsU?
The price of the conference will be $199, although you can get a $20 discount by using the promotion code PRINCE at checkout. You can buy your tickets at the PointsU website.
Why should you attend? At the end of the day, if you ask a handful of people what they would do if money were no object, I guarantee you that "travelling the world" will be high on everyone's list.
Well, earning and redeeming points does allow you to travel without having to worry about the out-of-pocket costs. But there's also quite a bit of research and learning required in order to get good at it. Just look at the volumes that have been written about Miles & Points on this blog and many others.
By attending PointsU, not only do you get to learn from the best in the business, you also get to interact with other members in the community in person. The biggest advantage here is not necessarily that you'll get to see all our pretty faces, but that people are generally willing to share a lot more information face-to-face rather than online.
I've touched on this idea in my recent Mileage Mindset series: stuff that's published on the blogs is easily readable, searchable, and –importantly – usable and mis-usable by everyone. That means that the best deals often don't get shared, since otherwise they would be quickly killed off.
At an in-person gathering like PointsU, all of that goes out the window. Everyone is there altruistically and enthusiastically hoping to refine their trade, so everything is fair game.
According to the PointsU website, the following hot-button topics will be covered at the conference. I can assure you that we'll be going through anything and everything there is to know about these topics, and much more...
Unlike #PointsUYVR and #PointsUYYZ, in which we had a series of speakers giving talks on particular subjects, PointsU Interactive Calgary will feature an entirely new format. Like the name implies, we'll be doing roundtable workshops rather than lectures, giving you a chance to work with the experts much more closely.
The hope is that the experts will be able to walk you through, step-by-step, some of the more complex topics in the game. It's one thing to read about how to plan an Aeroplan mini-round-the-world trip or how to meet high spending requirements, but it's quite another to roll your sleeves up and do it yourself.
That's why I'm so excited for the workshop format – I really believe it'll help everyone in attendance, no matter their prior background in the points game, to accelerate the development and sharpening of their skills.
Venue & Logistics
I hear that the agenda for the conference is still being finalized, but if last year's Toronto event is anything to go by, we're going to be in for a treat.
Most likely, there's going to be an evening reception on Friday, November 3, followed by a full day's worth of jam-packed sessions and workshops on Saturday, and then another evening reception on the Saturday as well.
The Marriott In-Terminal Hotel Calgary Airport will be hosting us, and the newly-completed hotel features some stunning views of the airport tarmac. I can't think of a more fitting backdrop for us as we discuss how to supercharge our travel experiences. Conference attendees can expect a discounted room rate at the hotel as well – stay tuned for more on that.
Lastly, I wanted to mention two outstanding things I remember about the Toronto conference that I'm looking forward to for #PointsUYYC. The first is the evening reception that was hosted by Starwood at the Sheraton Centre Toronto – boy was that a splendid reception (think open bar, lobster bisque, and steak tartare!) I'm expecting Marriott to raise their game and put on a similarly fantastic evening for us this time around.
And then there were the amazing prizes available to be won, such as a certificate for a free 25,000 Starpoints. From what I hear, the prizes this year are going to be just as, if not more exciting!
Get Your Tickets
PointsU is hands down the best place for Canadians to learn how to leverage Miles & Points to realize their travel dreams. Whether you're a beginner who wants to learn the ropes, or an advanced user hoping to hone your skills, you'll find the advice, knowledge, and connections you gain from attending PointsU invaluable in shaping your upcoming journeys.
Head over to the PointsU website to buy your tickets! Don't forget to use the promotion code PRINCE to get $20 off your ticket price. I hope to see you all there!