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Travel on Point(s) is an independent, advertising-supported website. This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites like This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel on Point(s) has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any partner entities.

ToP Takeaways from City Socials

Last weekend, Sarah and I had the opportunity to complete the West Coast Swing, which was a series of 4 City Socials, in 4 different cities, in only 4 days. We did this to stretch an Alaska Airlines Companion pass, which you'll read about later. While meeting hundreds of you, chatting for hours, and then breaking down conversations later to compare notes between ourselves, here are our ToP 10 takeaways from these City Socials. We had so much fun doing this and look forward to another one soon!

Takeaway #1: Interest & Enthusiasm

The #1 ToP takeaway from these City Socials is the level of interest in, and enthusiasm for, award travel among our members. We had several folks drive 3+ hours to hang out with us, along with fellow like-minded travel lovers. It was so great to hear story after story of folks diving in, earning points, burning points, booking a bucket list trip of their dreams, etc. The enthusiasm was palpable and it was heart-warming to hear so many positive stories at each stop along the way. This is why ToP exists, after all. We want YOU to travel more, travel better, and spend less money doing so!

Takeaway #2: ToP has a Website!

This one is quite confusing to us. A ToP takeaway from these City Socials was that many of you do not know ToP has a website. Yes, we're confused because we share 2-5 blog posts per day in the group, on the Travel on Point(s) business page, on Twitter, and/or on Instagram. Where would these posts live, but on a website? As a not-so-tech-saavy person myself, I can understand where confusion might set in, but folks, you're missing a treasure chest of information. If you are not on our website daily here are things you are missing:

So do yourself a favor and spend time daily on the website. It will really help keep your knowledge in tip-ToP shape.

ToP takeaways from City Socials

Takeaway #3: Analysis Paralysis

Over and over again, Sarah and I heard stories of analysis paralysis. It is definitely one of the biggest ToP takeaways from these City Socials. Do not let analysis paralysis set in. That is what the Facebook group is for! If you need help with card strategy or if a redemption is good value, all you have to do is ASK. You'll receive a super fast, friendly response from a ToP team member and other members of the community. There is no reason for analysis paralysis with 100,000+ award travelers to help set you straight!

Takeaway #4: Zooms are Your Friend

During our 4 City Socials, we repeatedly heard how helpful the ToP Zooms are. By contrast, many members that were struggling with specific things mentioned they had never taken a Zoom or, even worse, didn't even know ToP offered Zoom classes! (Related: See Takeaway 2 above!). This is not a sales pitch, as our $5 Zooms don't even cover our costs. This ToP takeaway from the City Socials is to remind you that you can get 60-90 minutes with multiple ToP admins, all experts in Award Travel, for $5. That's less than your daily coffee costs. Do yourself a favor and attend as many of these as you can, including possibly taking multiple Beginner Zooms for those just starting out. Each one is different enough that you will leave with different knowledge than prior Zooms. It is the best $5 you'll ever spend in this game.

Takeaway #5: ToP Members Truly are The Kindest & Most Friendly

I could have listed this as our ToP Takeaway from the City Socials. Over and over again, those we encountered raved about how kind, welcoming, and inclusive our Facebook group is on a daily basis. Likewise, many members mentioned reporting things that should be removed from the group. This is exactly why the Facebook group works so well. You, our Facebook group members, keep folks adhering to our rules and rudeness, hostility and other bad behavior is immediately reported and removed. This doesn't happen often, but when it does, YOU reported it. We thank each and every one of you for doing so.

Takeaway #6: We need more City Socials!

Call me selfish, but this West Coast Swing was a whole lot of fun! A ToP takeaway from the City Socials was that we need more City Socials. We've covered the West Coast, and regularly hold events in D.C. and Tampa, so Midwest and Northeast, be on the lookout for announcements soon! We absolutely love meeting our members and hearing your stories. It's what helps us grind through 12-16+ hour days staring at computer and phone screens.

Takeaway #7: “Best Value” is Relative in Award Travel

After conversations with over 100 members in 4 days, a ToP takeaway from the City Socials is that everyone can travel on points in a way that works best for them. We heard stories of flying economy and staying in hostels. We heard “only business or first class for me.” Likewise, some members are solo travelers, some do multi-generational travel with extended family, and some are in-between. The absolute best part of this award travel game is any and all of the above works. You can travel more, travel better, and spend less money doing so, regardless if you are in first class across an ocean or on a road trip to a national park. As long as the math adds up, your “best value” for your points might be totally different than everyone else you know or meet. That is totally okay.

ToP takeaways from city socials

Takeaway #8: Some Overvalue CPP & Some Undervalue it

Now we get to mix some of the ToP takeaways from the 4 City Socials last week. Takeaways 3, 7 and 8 are highly correlated. If you overvalue cents per point (CPP), you just don't understand it, or you don't really know what you're looking for, takeaways 7 and 8 might get all mixed up and lead to analysis paralysis (Takeaway #3). You see, if you get good value (i.e. cents per point), book the trip! It does not matter that you are flying economy and staying at a Fairfield Inn or a Hyatt Place, if the value is there. For some, this leads to a sense of “points are free so I will burn them on whatever I want.” Even worse, this mindset leads to not understanding what a good deal is, or not spending the time to find a good deal.

For example, a hotel stay is “free” if you use 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards to transfer to Marriott and book a hotel room. But if the hotel room is only $100, thus only 0.5 cents per point, this was a bad deal. Another example is Emirates Fifth Freedom routes to Milan or Athens from New York City. These trips are 176,000 miles roundtrip in business (unless you can find roundtrip saver awards) and are readily available. Folks flock to them like the Holy Grail. Even if the flight is $3,500, giving you 2 cents per point, this is a bad deal. Why? Because you can fly to Europe in business for less than half that amount. You're simply overpaying because of a “good deal” when calculating cents per point.

Instead, learn the value of your currencies and what routes to/from your intended destination should cost. It is a delicate tightrope walk between getting good value for your points and overpaying, because you are unaware of what an award should cost. If you find this gives you analysis paralysis, remember that we have a website with thousands of articles to help you!

Takeaway #9: Booking Awards Isn't Hard, But it takes Practice

By far, the most frequent conversation Sarah and I had with members, and a ToP takeway from the City Socials, was frustration in booking award flights. Some think saver awards are impossible, some don't know what saver awards are or that they exist, and others feel there are “secrets” that aren't shared. I can definitively say that there are no secrets. Even better, I can tell you that booking award flights is not hard or complicated. But it does take time and practice to get good at it. To assist you, we have these resources:

  • Our Guide to Booking Award Flights. Memorize this! Each member of the Admin team conducts every single search in this manner.
  • Our ToP 10 Tips to Booking Award Flights.
  • Remember that you are booking a route, a class of service, a specific day, and a cost. You can typically find 3 of these 4, but finding all 4 at once is like winning the lottery. You need flexibility in one or more of these 4 areas for maximum success, although it is not impossible to find what you want.
  • Attend our Award Booking Zooms. We host 6+ Zooms per year that are specifically designed to assist you increasing your award booking knowledge.
  • If all else fails, you can hire our Award Booking Service to find your flights for you. However, we much prefer to teach you to fish for yourself, rather than give you fish to eat.

Takeaway #10: We Have the Best Jobs in the World

After the whirlwind West Coast Swing, the ToP takeaway from the City socials to me is that the ToP team, and Sarah and I specifically, have the best dang jobs in the world. Yes, sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees when we are staring at a computer screen for 16+ hours a day, 7 days a week. But we also have the privilege to shepherd and guide the friendliest and fastest organically growing award travel Facebook group on the planet. We thank each and every one of you for allowing us to do what we love best: teaching 100,000+ people how to travel more, travel better, for less money by following everything we teach in Travel on Point(s). We thank you.


We promise to keep things short, sweet, and packed with awesome insights!