#WestCoastDo was an informal conference organized by Saverocity, and held in Scottsdale, AZ, which dealt primarily with the topic of Manufactured Spend. It was the second such conference, the first being the MileMadnessDo attended by many of the same people in May, 2014 in Charlotte, NC. One should not compare, but of course one does.
As a preliminary matter, many reviews have been written about WestCoastDo (and I’m sure I’ve left some out, so just let me know and I’ll add them).
Milenomics – good recap and expansion on some specific questions asked during the session
TravelBloggerBuzz – George never dissappoints
Travel With Grant – his own thoughts
Free-quent Flyer – his own thoughts
Big Habitat – reselling
NYC-JFK. UBER. Since I had to be at JFK before 7am, I took my first solo Uber ride (only once before had I taken Uber, when I shared a ride with Matt from CLT to downtown [uptown?] Charlotte and the driver almost killed us not once, but twice). Anyway, I found my Uber account, and much to my surprise, it still had a $45 credit from when I first signed up. The Uber ride went well. I made it to JFK alive.
JFK-PHX. Delta non-stop. Friday morning – Sunday night (red-eye) Although I am platinum sky medallion, I was not upgraded on either flight. I must remind myself of these lack of upgrades next year when I have absolutely no Delta status.
PHX – Scottsdale. I met Diane and Jana. Jana had rented a car, so after some initial confusion finding one another, they drove me to Old Town Scottsdale, to my hotel for Friday night, the Hyatt House.
Scottsdale-PHX I met up with my brother Scott, who lives in Scottsdale, late afternoon on Sunday. We went to dinner and he dropped me off at the Airport for my redeye *uch* return flight home.
JFK- NYC – Airtrain and Subway to Manhattan.
Friday night: Hyatt House – a nice hotel, but some snafus. I shared the hotel with my friend Bonnie, who writes the Frugal Travel Lawyer. It was nice to catch up with her. (For a review of the fitness center, see Hotel Fitness Center and Pool Review – Hyatt House Scottsdale/ Old Town).
Saturday, after a brief treadmill run, I moved over to the Firesky Resort, a Kimpton Hotel, the location of the WestCoastDo conference. As I have said over and over, I’ve never met a Kimpton I didn’t love and this was no exception. I think they love me back. (*gushing*) My room was lovely – I’m not sure if it was an upgraded room or not, but I did have a balcony with a view of the pool and lagoon area. I’ll post those photos separately as well as a review of the Fitness Center and Spa. I did go for a run Sunday morning along the canal nearby, see Cuckoo for Jogging Maps- Firesky Resort – Scottsdale, AZ.
The festivities began unofficially on Friday at 5 p.m., when we stormed the Firesky for the famous Kimpton wine hour. Great to see old friends and meet new ones. If there was a theme to the weekend, it was exactly that. We had fun hanging out with our old friends, making new friends. Talking and sharing and laughing about our shared lunacy together, whether over coffee, wine, lunch, dinner or just sitting around the firepit. I love you guys!
Let me say this about myself, I am not a heavy hitter when it comes to Manufactured Spend. Some of this is because I am extremely busy, but a lot of it is because I live in New York City, where the MS opportunities are slim pickings, and I don’t have a car. It was better in the days of CVS, AP, VR, and all the other acronyms we all seem to know by heart.
The sessions were good and expertly planned by Matt, the maverick of the website Saverocity. (This was pretty remarkable for any man, let alone one with an infant baby and a new home). The speakers were all excellent, but, in my opinion (with the exception of Tahsir -who’s presentation was stellar), the WestCoastDo presentations lacked the specific content and nitty-gritty details of the MileMadness presentations. IMHO, one of the presenters seemed cagey as if he was purposely withholding information, which is regrettable given the atmosphere of camaraderie at the event.
Why was there less substance? I have my theories.
First, the Milemadness session, was built around a specific MS contest. So there was immediate content as each of the participants explained their strategy and results. The outline of WestCoastDo was more open-ended.
Second, the WestCoastDo was attended by primarily heavy-MS-hitters – many of the attendees knew as much or more than the presenters. Explaining the basics to these people would have served no purpose. What was important was getting the conversation going, so information could be shared. That, in my opinion, was successfully accomplished.
Third, just dumb luck. The timing of the WestCoastDo occurred just after many important MS methods had been shut down. Marathon Man had a list of all such closures. I heard many collective moans. To some extent, the WestCoastDo was a time to commiserate over the loss of certain accounts, and say the proper goodbyes to various forms of MS that had been shut down. A story comes to mind. A number of months ago, I watched in horror as a beautiful orthodox Jewish synagogue near where I live burned down. The next day I went out to see the charred remains of the temple. People were standing around. I heard that no one was injured and that the sacred Torahs were saved. I struck up a conversation with the man next to me, who was a member of the synagogue’s congregation. I said to him – you must be so devastated? You must be so upset? You must be so distraught? He only shrugged his shoulders, and said three words We will rebuild. Those were his words. We will rebuild. So, without being sacrilegious, this describes the resiliency of the MS participants. They may be distressed at the loss of one method or another, but they know to look forward and rebuild, and find another game to hack or loop to take advantage of. And then, when that one burns down, there’ll be the next one.
Fourth, the simple fact, I believe, is there wasn’t much in the MS world to talk about other than Redbird and stores that sell gift cards. These MS’ers are saavy – they already knew the basics, although, honestly, as much as I loved Frequent Miler’s comedic overview of the life and world of MSing (how funny was it when Greg’s presentation displayed a red, rather than a blue, bird?), I would have liked more detailed presentations. Having said that, Tahsir excelled. He’s fascinating to listen to and he shared valuable details on a broad range of topics. My head may have been spinning, but he didn’t talk in circles.
Fifth. As many have said, whether as validation of old concept or creation of new ideas, a lot of the learning at WestCoastDo happened when we were sitting around eating meals, socializing, discussing, brainstorming, recounting stories with our friends. The value of this is difficult to quantify, but it is valuable.
Notwithstanding the above criticisms, with expert planning by Matt and his team as well as a wonderful confluence of attendees, the WestCoastDo was a hit.