This year’s Travel Tour Expo was more than just amassing an insane amount of flyers, brochures and goodies. This year, we were on the hunt for the right people to take us to Japan.
And though personally, I wouldn’t drop that much money for packaged trips, this was a family trip and whatever THEY say, goes. Besides, Mr. M was already 75 and we couldn’t exactly push him off of train platforms, no matter how efficient they truly were. I can’t even say that I can do that to my own prissy-traveler Mom. Tonie, yes.
So, of course, there will be a next time.
Staking out at KK while waiting for the massive snake-line to disappear
Here’s what happened to our scouring for trips.
3 Different Travel Agencies had departures for Japan on March/April.
Adam’s Express Travel – our friendly neighborhood best friends when it comes to trips didn’t have an itinerary that we were longing for. It was just not the right itinerary for us.
Rakso Travel – they had a good itinerary set up and even has a full “free day” to spend on your own, which is what everybody looks for in packaged trips anyway.
Pan Pacific/ Trafalgar – they had a good set up as well, packed with tours to the brim.
It all went down between Rakso and Pan Pacific and on the first day of the travel expo, I approached both to get an estimated quotation for all 4 of us. Rakso, though akin to a Binondo alley food push-cart set up, was very accommodating and friendly. We sat down on tiny plastic benches after skipping and hopping over all of these other people. But we got what we sat down for. We got the proper estimate on two different set ups and we got answers to our inquiries. They had agents ready to pounce on anyone who needs assistance and they do it with a smile.
When it was time for me try and get the same thing from Pan Pacific, I was actually disappointed when there were only 5 people doing the actual computations. There were a few people doing something else but for the most part they were pretty unaccommodating. I stood behind a lady who was getting a quotation. I waited patiently knowing that they were actually busy. But several people ignored me. I had my hand raised, holding the photocopied itinerary and was looking for someone to say SOMETHING to me. Something like tell me to wait for a moment or for someone to go to someone or that someone will be with me shortly. I was invisible and nobody wanted to do anything with me.
Finally, when somebody was finally able to accommodate us, they couldn’t get us a straight answer for our inquiries. They couldn’t tell us whether the tour dates were full or whether they could accommodate our party. We had to call them the following day, at the office, before we could finally get information. Also, pretty, rich-looking lady behind the counter offered to build us a custom package for our own family. Wow, we appreciate that she’d think we had that much money to burn, but I guess I just grew impatient.
It was just because of that, we decided to go with Rakso Travel.
Visualizing Sanrioland. Notice the door knob just above her head.
I’m hoping that my experience with Pan Pacific wasn’t the norm and that it was just my luck on that day. But I guess the lesson of this story is that, first impressions do matter and in the case of the battle of the Japan packaged tour. The one travel agency that was prepared, organized and accommodating was the winner.
Overall though, the Travel Expo seemed a little anorexic compared to last year’s. The same old same old promos were there for the airlines: Cebu Pacific, Air Phil Express, Air Asia and even Zest had promos. But the big winner was this year’s offerings from Philippine Airlines.
My Mom, being curious, investigated the long line of matronas willing to stand the crowd and the waiting. It turns out, PAL was having a buy one, get one promo on already DISCOUNTED flights from Manila to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto.
Another highlight of this year’s expo was the massive playground for kids. We gave the Happy Meal 30-minute breaks before we went back down for deal-searching. It was a good break to have. It keeps sanities intact.
Freebie Photo Op with the Guam Tourism Board: printed out photo with cardboard frame
Performers from Pattaya, Thailand! 😀
Traditional Korean Fan Dance followed by modern K-Pop cover dance group
To help you out with next year’s travel expo, here are a few tips.
- If you’re really, really serious about getting a travel deal, go on a Friday. People actually line up a full hour before the expo opens. They often are grouped in two. Someone will stand in line for 1 airline and book there while the other one does the same for another airline. I’ve seen this MO happen in previous years.
- If you’re just looking to see what’s what, then go on a Sunday. It’s got the least amount of people going and it seemed, to me, the least crowded.
- Stake out the programs happening on the stage. They almost always have giveaways and trivia contests to go with the entertaining shows on stage. We did our part and ended up with 3 goodie bags from South Africa, Guam and a resort in Pagudpud. The organizers actually started calling out people who weren’t raising their arms because we were just turning it into a business.
A Happy Tourist is a Good Tourist