The Deal Mommy

What Should I Do About FT4RL?

Please bear with this stream-of-consciousness post. 

I’ve come to a crossroads and have put off making a decision long enough.  I could really use your help deciding what to do about Family Travel for Real Life

To be honest, I’m of two minds about the future of the conference and am trying to determine when, or if, I should plan another one.  When I need to make a decision I usually make a pro and con list, so I’ll give it a stab here. 

PRO

I’m extremely proud of what FT4RL has accomplished. Four years ago I could count the family miles/points writers on one hand with fingers left over. Now the family viewpoint, if not prevalent, is at least well represented. 

CON

Now at most larger conferences more family points of view are represented. Is the family viewpoint well enough established that the community doesn’t need a dedicated space anymore? 

Selfishly I take some credit for that as many of the successful people in our community were among the first to sign on to FT4RL. I can add my own voice to the larger conferences if I want to be sure the points drive home. 

PRO

The conference is fun for me. I love having an excuse to get together with old friends and new. I learn from you more than you learn from me. The intimate size means FT4RL feels more like a weekend-long party once it’s begun. I also selfishly take credit for the positive tone and the genuine likability of the people who choose to attend. 

CON

Getting there is a helluva lot of work. Finding speakers, a venue, and a date that works for enough people is stressful, as is worrying about selling enough tickets to break even. It’s a labor of love, but I have other labors I love that are much more financially rewarding.

So now that I’ve laid bare I’m asking for your two cents. I’m NOT looking for “Dia, please don’t go!” ego-boosting, but genuine reflection. 

Have you found FT4RL to be of value? More importantly, would you find future FT4RLs to have value as well?

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23 thoughts on “What Should I Do About FT4RL?

  1. Mickisue

    TBH, I haven’t attended, because my travel is primarily single or couple’s. But there are plenty of people who would benefit from the POV of experts in family travel, and be either uninterested or intimidated with the whole 150000k/month miles and points focus of so many traditional bloggers. But they would jump at an entire conference for them.

    As you well know, when you need seats for four or more to Spain, booking Etihad suites is neither attainable nor practical.

    Maybe asking one of your fellow family travel bloggers to share a good sized chunk of the planning would help?

  2. Jamie

    I think I love FT4RL for the same reasons you do (except without the con of having to be the one planning it). Many of my best travel hacking friends tend to go. Because you’ve had it in Orlando twice, I’m especially likely to go because I love that location. Disney and family and friends are close by, plus it’s a fairly short fairly cheap flight for me.
    I hope enough other people are interested, so that it does continue, because I enjoy it. But you are right that there isn’t a glaring hole in the community where family oriented travel discussions should be, like there used to be.
    I view it as a “want” rather than a “need” these days.

  3. John

    I have been attending the FTU events sporadically and have found the more recent ones to have been taken over by the Manufactured Spend crowd which is not “travel” so if you can offer an alternative then there is certainly a place for your program. Unfortunately, I am new to your blog and I have never heard of your event so it needs to be publicized much better.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi John,
      Chicago Seminars is more travel than MS- although I’m sure there is some MS there as well.

      Good point about there being new people who may benefit from a family focus.

  4. Haley Bach

    Well if you had one in Orlando in the next 6 months I could get you into Cast Connections 😎

    I too have noticed an uptick in family perspective and in coverage of Disney that just wasn’t there before FTFRL. I think the coverage is pulling more and more beginners into the game that are great fits for FTFRL.

    If you don’t plan one for this Fall can we try for a reunion get together? I propose Disney during Food and Wine.

    1. Shannon

      I agree with Haley. I’ve got an AP to Disney this year. I’d love to go to Orlando in the fall. Perhaps instead of doing a big conference, you could do a meet-up instead. Or, maybe instead of twice a year, make the conference once a year. I haven’t gone in the past because the dates didn’t work for me and airfare was expensive. I save up points for family travel.

  5. projectx

    I have yet to attend a FT4RL because it just didn’t fit well into my calendar yet. I was very excited for FT4RL7 because it sounded like I could finally make one.

    IMO the family travel space is still a sparsely discussed topic, along with which airlines make it possible for front of the plane international travel for a family. Even Points With a Crew rarely touches on full family travel much these days. Plenty of “my son and I went to Europe while others stayed home” type of posts which is fine, but is of little interest to those who want to bring the entire family.

    I would think people like myself that are looking to branch out from domestic trips, and develop strategies for how to collect the points would jump at the chance for another FT4RL conference. Just avoid September through mid-November I coach two soccer teams. 😉

  6. Ian

    I loved my one time. The small group size made it extra enjoyable. Not sure I’d appreciate a larger conference as much.

    Bring it out West(ish) and I would enjoy seeing you and everyone else again!

  7. Trevor

    Dia – you rock. your FT4RL’s have been interesting, granted I haven’t been able to make it to but one… But your events always seemed to be much more fitting to a mix of beginners and veterans, more so because of that smaller intimate setting where beginners are not intimidated from asking basic questions.

    As an aside, I totally get the feeling of crossroads, I’ve been at that with my own ResellingDO events too. Its an interesting time we are in.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Thanks. If anyone knows the logistical pain of putting this together, you do. I’d be curious to hear your train of thought as it might help my own.

  8. Sarah

    I don’t feel like the family travel genre is covered near well enough! I’ve been doing this for 6-7 years and read all the blogs and these days so much of what is pumped out to the masses is just a regurgitation of the news for that day. There are far fewer trip reports, which I love. There are so many more posts about sweet spots that aren’t actually practical for families or posts about theoretical bookings and award charts without the substance of what it takes to actually book those awards. I want more inspirational posts that make me want to grab my kids and go and that is sorely missing! I only was able to attend the FTFRL happy hour you had in Dallas and not the conference as I had another commitment but I wish I could have attended the conference as it seemed like a really fun group!

  9. Lee @ BaldThoughts

    I haven’t attended previously, but I would like to this year. Now that I don’t have a traditional job, my schedule is much more flexible to make conferences like these.

    I understand your dilemma in deciding whether or not there’s overlap/need/etc. But like one of the commenters above said that many of the speaker sessions at other conferences are focused on MS and more advanced “hacking” strategies that just aren’t applicable to the wide audiences out there.

    If you do continue on, please let me know. I would love the opportunity to speak and help out in any way that I can.

  10. Singh

    Why dont you, Trevor and Matt come together to organize one big #Do kind of thing where family travel, reselling and misc travel related topics can be brought under one conference. People can decide wat speakers they want to atrend or not and tickets can be sold according to that.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Singh,
      It’s definitely something we’ve thought about, but I’m not sure how much cross pollination there is between the two groups.

      1. Jamie

        In some ways I like that idea, because I’ve always wanted to attend one of Matt or Trevor’s events. On the other hand, what I like about the FT4RL events is the sweet spot of their size. Small enough that you can interact with everyone, but not so small that you’re on the spot all the time, big enough that there is a diversity of view points and that there are plenty of people there to learn from and share with. Perfect size for making new friends but keeping the old. Not sure that combining events makes things easier.
        Actually, a combined event would be great as it’s own entity, but it would be different enough that it would be a “real” FT4RL. But if it’s time to shake things up and try something different, then yeah, I think that a combined event would be pretty fun.

  11. Kathy

    I didn’t know about your event until a year or so ago. My initial thought was my kids are grown, this wouldn’t be a good fit for me. Several friends have suggested it is still a great conference even for families without children. Depending on timing I may attend this year. One thought, you have a book this year. This could be a good vehicle for getting the word out.

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