I am not going to write about the presentations in any detail, since a lot of the presenters were talking off the record. I did learn a few more capabilities of ITA Matrix software, which is a very useful tool for finding low fares, as well as a few ideas on options for finding good redemptions. The session I was most disappointed in had to do with "handling what airlines throw at you." I was hoping there was some secret to getting better treatment during irregular operations, but I thought the talk was mostly a pitch for the presenter's (commercial) services.
My favorite quote of the weekend was from a presentation by Todd Tomlin of Hyatt who said, "Hyatt does have a secret community. I can't tell you more than that." I also enjoyed a reference to certain types of reload cards (which are valuable as a way of, essentially, buying money with a credit card that earns miles) as "bluebird feed." (Bluebird is a specific reloadable card and is popular because it can be used for paying bills and for getting money at ATMs.)
The real reason for going to these things (well, aside from the conversation with people who make me realize that I am a piker when it comes to miles and points) is learning a few tricks that aren't available publicly. The catch is that several of those tricks are ethically questionable. Without any specifics, they often rely on taking advantage of a deal that you are not really entitled to. To give a (fictional) example, suppose the League of Left-Handed Lithuanian Lepidopterists has arranged a special discount rate for the Monarch Hotel chain. If you knew that discount code, you might reserve a room at that rate, especially if you knew it was unlikely that the Monarch Hotel in Pacific Grove, California would check that you were a member of 4L. It is, after all, rare for a desk clerk to notice that you are speaking Estonian with your traveling partner, you signed for your room with your right hand, and you swatted at a moth in the closet because moths terrify you. In other words, you could almost certainly get away with taking that discount even though you are not actually entitled to it.
Those of us with higher ethical standards are doomed to remain pikers.