Cheap deals and bargains at the 2010 Philippine Travel Mart

As traveling is one of our "vices", Patrick and I are always on the look out for bargains and cheap deals. When we heard about this year's Philippine Travel Mart, we knew we're headed there :)

This year, it was held last September 3-5 at the Megatrade Hall in SM Megamall. It actually came at an opportune time especially after the hostage-taking fiasco that befell the country last August 23 which resulted in Hongkong and China banning their tourists from visiting the Philippines. With this travel mart, it's expected to boost local/domestic tourists to flock and uphold the tourism industry.

I was excited to attend the event because, imagine, you have the whole Philippines at your fingertips. It really saves time searching for and finding hotels, travel tickets, resorts and new projects because you have everything you need within one location! Though the Internet can give you a multitude of information, here at the Travel Mart, you can actually field your questions to people who immediately answer your queries and even offer great deals on bookings. Air travel is covered by Cebu Pacific, Philippine Air Lines, Zest Air and Sea Air and you can really see people lining up and taking advantage of their ticket sales :)

If you're looking for kid-friendly destinations, like we were, we found great deals at Enchanted Kingdom, Manila Ocean Park, Tiger Safari etc. I even got interested with some tours around Manila. It's like I already live here but haven't found the time to actually go and visit some of the remarkable sights that are within a stone's throw from me. :)

Subic and Camarines Sur have great big booths that showcase their hotels, resorts and activities. We learned that Bayfront Subic (our fave hotel there) was offering a Halloween package (interesting!) We were able to taste Barako Coffee from the Batangas booths. We gathered a number of flyers, brochures and pamphlets for reference. If only we had the money right then and there, we'd probably be taking advantage of the bargains too.

However, against my better judgment, someone got me to sign-up with the so-called raffle. Patrick thinks it's a scam but I was lured by the prospect of free hotel accommodations in Boracay (me the cheapskate!) Now, I actually regret participating hehehe

First, my phone was beset by calls from their sales marketing team promising a buffet dinner and a 90-minute AVP before we can claim the Gift Certificate. We actually went to one (A. Venue Resorts) where their buffet was an offering of different (but cold) pasta dishes (pomodoro, bolognese and pesto) which you can make by yourself. After which, their presentation lasted more than 90 minutes. The presentation was basically introducing their product (the A. Venue Hotel) which was supposedly part of the RCI International resorts. So if you purchase a membership club with them, you'll get to enjoy the benefits at other resorts both local and international too. Though they tell you on the phone that there's no need to bring cash because you're under no obligation to purchase, they will convince you and "coerce" you to do so after the presentation. It is coercion because it's like if you don't sign up now, you'll forfeit your special benefits and will only be entitled to using the A. Venue Hotel alone. I knew Patrick was getting impatient because it was already midnight (we got there at 8) and they were relentless. IN short, we did not purchase any club membership but we got the GC which now that I think about it, I won't be using anyway because they require a P5K booking fee (supposedly refundable) but you'll have a difficult time getting it back. So then, I had to turn down all those other sales agents hahaha

It wasn't all for naught. I got a lot of info should we choose to go on a vacation within the year or in the far future :)

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