They invite you to a buffet dinner at a lavish place. Inform you to spare around 30-45 minutes of your time after dinner for a presentation. In return, you get free certificates. They always say that it's a no commitment event. They just want you to hear their presentation, do a little consultation and sales talk with you and make you buy, without imposing a commitment. Granting this fact, they wouldn't let you off the hook easily, well at least that's what my colleague Carlo said.
Club Astoria, one of the leisure companies, here in the Philippines invited me and Mitch to join them for a buffet dinner in Cafe Astoria, Ortigas (15 mins-40 mins drive from Makati, depends on the traffic). Upon saying yes and confirming, we were like babies being checked every single period of the day. They kept on calling me and texting me at lunch to thank me for accepting the invitation. They even offered their services just in case I get lost. Thankfully, Mitch knew the way perfectly fine.
He picked me up at the office and we faced the grueling EDSA traffic. Being southerners, we rarely pass by EDSA, and boy we know why. It was hell! We took a shortcut in Pioneer and onto Astoria we went. On the way there, I received a couple of calls from Club Astoria to know if we're still fine...alive that is. I was on the verge of irritation, when Mitch informed me that we just had arrived.
Inside Cafe Astoria the seats were packed. Looks like we didn't actually "win" anything, Mitch would mutter. "It's a scam" we would assume at the back of our heads. Nevertheless, we filled up the registration form, hopped to the next available table for two and started to devour the sumptuous buffet. Since this will be my first time to attend this kind of marketing event, I pondered if the food actually has "gayuma" or charm to entice me to buy their product. But what the heck, eat we must.
After nearly an hour of packing ourselves with food, my colleague would remind me through text to be firm. He had been victimized by one of these events wherein he had to suffer an agonizing hour to listen to an agent who wanted to sell him some hotel shares. No matter how Carlo would say no and reason out, the agent seemed to have all the perfect answers. My colleague prepared me on what to expect. Expect the worst he said. Imagine yourself being plagued by a suitor who does not know what "no" means.
As we tried to built our strategy to squirm out, a certain marketing dude dressed in black and a cheery personality approached our table and directed us to a large conference room. He offered us a seat in his mini-desk and started to flip some magazines while exchanging pleasantries. At this point, I wanted to barf from too much food consumption and I signaled Mitch to take over. Apparently, this weird real estate agent looked at us, smiled and beat us to the punch.
Real Estate agent: "You guys have somewhere else to go, right?"
Mitch: "Yes in fact we do. If we could make this fast--"
Agent: "No, this is actually quick. We'd just like to entice you to pay a membership fee at Club Astoria to avail all of the free perks of hotels, affiliated with Astoria, all over the world. You could pay as low as 9 thousand pesos for a whole week's stay in a luxury hotel in Turkey."
Mitch: "Ah, really? That's cool, but we're not really travelers. (Semi Lie)
How would this benefit us? This is not transferable, right?"
Agent: "Well, but you will never know when you're expected to travel, sir. This is a great investment. You can use it the whole year."
Okay at that point, the Marketing Agent was at loss. I kept on looking at other tables and some of the agents are acting out already, and I can see it in their veins. And there I was with an agent who didn't seem to offer any challenges? It's either he got his quota already, or he just smelled right from the start that we're just in for the free dinner and certificates. Soon enough...
Agent: "Actually sir, would you want to have the gift certificates? I'm sure you do."
Mitch: "Um, yeah sure."
Agent: "Great, I'll just go get it, sir, can you wait for a moment."
After 5 minutes, a lady approached us and gave us the certificate for a 3 days 2 nights stay in a Boracay resort, valid only for this year. We got the certificate, validated the parking lot, and ran as fast as we could from the conference center. We didn't see the real estate agent again. By this time, Mitch was laughing hard and I was feeling sorry for the guy because with that tactic, he certainly wouldn't sell anything, not even Ice Candy.
That was too quick and too easy. I've never been to any marketing functions like that, but I do know how sales people work. They would really clinch you, sport a laugh at something not quite funny, make the mood lighter and really twist your mind into buying. They have one of the quickest minds, best charms and pleasing personalities to nudge and politely eliminate any form of rejection. That is an art and a skill.
The offer was good, but if I tend to analyze it, we're not really the ideal market. We love traveling, but not to the point of being regular jet setters. We're both busy bodies at work that buying a membership fee would be similar to just giving it to charity, which is better.
So thank you for the dinner. Thank you for the certificates. And I hope the agent meets his sales quota, because most people now would love the free dinner buffet, but not the added travel expenses.