Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Astoria Experience

Are you familiar with this type of marketing?

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.

28 comments:

alwaysanxious said...

Hah! You filled out that form while waiting for the house to open during Avenue Q. :)) You're the second one among those who got tickets from me who attended this marketing event (They won did daw!). You should've joined me at the waiting area. I managed not to fill out the form :)) But you enjoyed the food naman so bawi. :P

opinionatedbanana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
opinionatedbanana said...

I know, right! Well it's a manageable experience for us! I felt bad for the sales guy though. Literally it felt like we stuffed ourselves with buffet and listened to him for 5-10 minutes tops. Well, I'll know what I'll get myself into next time. ")

Jenny said...

Hi! They called my mother who dragged me to their presentation. But the buffet at Club Astoria in Tomas Morato was limited, only rice, pasta, chicken, beef, with dessert. No Japanese like in your photo. We didn't get the membership either, only the Boracay certificate. By the way, if for the Bora resort, the certs are only good for 3 months. They're good for 6 months if for international resorts. Check mo with them.

opinionatedbanana said...

Yup. It was an experience for me! Also, aside from the 3 months thing about the certificate, you have to pay a deposit of 5K to the hotel, I think? The certificate that we got is valid until 6 months, but the booking deadline is up to 3 months only. So, that leaves us with December, Christmas Eve to actually use the certificate. We even asked if the certificate could be replaced with any Astoria hotels here in Manila. Sabi nila pwede, pero I think overnight lang. :)

Anonymous said...

Actually club astoria is a nice one among timeshare companies here in the philippines. if you have the money to become member then its fine. its not a scam, its matter of choice. you can decline the offer of if you want.

our family is also a member of their program, in fact we eventually made use of it in tenerife. its quite amazing and we paid only 12,000 for the whole week stay in a luxurious hotel.

prior to our membership in the hotel we suffered long hours listening to the consultant who assisted us... but its worth to be one of the member.

hope you wont delete this comment to enlightened this topic. thanks

opinionatedbanana said...

Yup it's true. It (timesharing) is an advantage in some ways especially if you're a hardcore traveler. But the experience I had, apart from the food and accommodations of course, was not really what I have expected. It wasn't marketed to us in a way that we'd want to actually buy it. Even if we were there, we felt that our interest in it wasn't ignited. A problem with the presentation or salesperson perhaps? Anyways, maybe some time in the future we'd be more interested.

Anonymous said...

i also attended the presentation in club astoria in ortigas and actually their deals are fair enough... all of us we don't have any obligation to be their member, actually is our own choice at the end of the day... if i only have the money on that day i really want to be a member.

Anonymous said...

Question lang, has any of you guys successfully claimed/used the free gift certificate they gave you at the end of the presentation? And if you did, were you also able to refund the 5k booking deposit? I'm just curious coz i found another blogger in another site who said that he was not even able to make use of the gift certificate even after paying the booking deposit.

Coffee Therapy said...

Curios also if anyone was able to use the certificate? Please comment. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm a club astoria member and I want out! I've been reading alot of horror stories about RCI (which is Club Astoria's timesharing partner outside the Philippines) and I don't want any part of it. Just do a google search on "RCI scams" and you'll find posts more than you can read. I believe Club Astoria is not a scam per se, but it's partner RCI has such bad service that it feels like the old bait and switch. For those thinking of joining the club. Think again.

Anonymous said...

muntik na akong mascam ng club astoria na yan this day, buti nalang at itsinek ni misis sa internet! same din free buffet, tapos free accomodation sa tagbilaran etc. tapos 90 minutes na pakikinig sa paliwanag nila! buti nalang nakulitan ako at sinabi ko kay misis at kinabahan na siya! tnx sa warning mo pre! god bless

Anonymous said...

first isa ako sa kumagat sa invitation ng club astoria and then kumain sa buffet at nakinig din sa sinasabing presentation, na feeling ko after 15mins ng discussion prang binebentahan na ako. pero ang nakita kong advantage ko sa situation kasi nga nag-iisa lang ako at nagdahilan ako na di makakasama ung misis ko, so parang napansin ko na walang ganang magdiscuss pa ung agent so di ako nagtagal dun ng 90mins at binigay na agad ung gift cert at pinareceived sa akin at tapos sibat na ako agad pero ni singkong duling wala akong nilabas kaya lang parang nagdududa akong gamitin ung free accomodation lalo na sa 5k sa deposit upon booking, wla pa bang nakasubok nito nito?

wish-witch said...

thanks for posting this. i was almost a victim. i filled out their form after a visit to the manila ocean park. i'm curious though if anyone got to use the certificates...? i wonder if the 'scam' ends at the dinner...

Anonymous said...

i have the certificate too. may nakasubok na nga ba? if we make use of the certificate, maibabalik ba ang 5k which is supposed to be a deposit lang? thanks!

Anonymous said...

We also have the certificates... wala bang catch dun sa mga certificates na yun? nakakatakot gamitin e.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I attended the dinner and 90-minute-turned~3hr sales talk and we got the GC. I'm anxious to know if anyone has used it already. We're planning to go to Bangkok to avail of the free stay in one of their partner hotels. But after reading all the negative posts online, I'm hesitant to do so. Looking forward to more posts on this topic. It looks like more and more people are victimized :(

Anonymous said...

We have been a club astoria member for over a year now. We used the GC last September 2008 when we went to Boracay. Yes, we were able to refund the 5K. I visited the Astoria Plaza @ Ortigas. Decent place. Not sure if we will use RCI timeshare (we have yet to check their service), but it's good enough for us to stay at Astoria Plaza or any of their hotels in the country.

Anonymous said...

WALANG MANLOLOKO SA MUNDONG ITO KUNG WALANG MAGPAPALOKO. THINK MILLION TIMES BAGO SUMABAK SA GANITONG MGA OFFERS. BETTER DEPOSIT UR HARD-EARNED MONEY IN THE BANKS KC MAS SECURED PA DUN, MAY INTERESTS PA! YAH THERES A SORT OF LEGALITY IN IT PERO MAY HALONG "scam" IF U REALLY STUDY AND ANALIZE THE WHOLE PROCESS. ISIP ISIP LANG !

Anonymous said...

My family joined Club Astoria in 2008. Actually, we're still paying for our membership (it will be fully paid mid next year) but we were already given a 3D/2N mini break in the hotel which the kids loved. Our one-bedroom unit was spacious and equipped with really nice kitchen appliances and utensils so we didn't have to dine out. The staff were also very attentive and there was even a free shuttle to and from the malls in the area. We also got to use the GC to Bali and the accommodations at Rama Bali Hotel was very nice (there was also free daily breakfast). We haven't have any bad experience with Astoria yet although I'm just a bit concerned that the promised Club Astoria resorts in Subic and Bohol are yet to be constructed.

mon said...

hi i was called by Astoria around 30mins ago, which prompted me to research on the net. Pansin ko lang, yung mga nagsabi na na-refund yung 5k, ay yung tumuloy sa membership. I read in one post na sinabi ng hotel/resort where nag-deposit na makuha lang yung 5k kapag nag-member. Any one who can further share/commen?

Jenne said...

I attended also but did not sign up. I availed of the free gift certificate to Bangkok. It was for real! :) total of 8days. I did pay for the 5k pero ang intindi ko dun sa 5k is processing fee so ok na rin saken. Naisip ko naman parang imposible makakuha ng hotel for 8days in an international country at the cost of 5,000 lang diba? hehehe..
The room was great, it was big enough for a whole family! promise.. I travelled alone nga lang..
I stayed in Quality Suites.
The only not so good part is that I went to bangkok for shopping and yung napili kong hotel mejo malayo pala sa shopping-an.. hehehehe.. Parang Las Pinas to Greenhills..

Anyways, a few months later my parents attended the same presentation and they signed up for it. They've paid the 40% already and we will use it in Astoria Boracay by June or July.
I'll let you guys know how that turns out. :)

Hope that helps.

tin2 said...

hi..my bf and i was able to sign up for membership...we deposit 24,800 as an advance deposit...after reading all comments, i dont think i will take the risk for paying monthly..
its just so frustrating that 24k is out for nothing...
if only i check on internet before going in there...

Anonymous said...

I was also invited to this Club Astoria this.. unfortunately I signed the contract but I still haven't paid any deposit yet. But they said If I'll cancel the contract, I have to pay the cancellation fee.. is it legal or what? What if I don't pay it?

Ethel Dimacuha said...

hi, i am in boracay now, my daughter and attended the astoria plaza presentation, we enjoyed the lunch they served. The concept of timeshare
was well presented, in fact very enticing. I raised a lot of questions, thus the 45 minutes presentation lasted for almost 3 hours...coz i am interested. I don't think it is a scam...the guys there presented to me the concept very very clear. n fact, i would like to me a member but due to budget constraint, i can not. I am not a frequent traveller too, but if you love to travel...go ahead...live life to the fullest alone or withn your loved ones...spend your hard earned money via vacations. Who knows, i will sign up my membership to Club Astoria...sooner, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Hi to all.

Interested ako mag-member sa Astoria pa-post naman ng pwede ma-contact sa sales nila.

Kasi, i thought na, spending quality time with the family even once in a year is as important to life itself.

Saka makakatipid tayo actually, of course kailangan talaga muna bayaran.

Also, a lot of people used the legit GC's even without signing for membership, so who's the scammer now?

Anonymous said...

c'mon, c'mon, we all know that we were properly informed of the circumstances, first you won a dinner for two and indeed there's free dinner, its free so its a prize, next you were sweet talked by the salesman, common sense, it's a salesman's trait. It's not his fault that he enticed you. It's your problem that you gave in. Next, a lot of those who did not sign for membership used their GC's, and many even sold it. So between Astoria and you, who's the scammer? Admit it guys, you don't have the discipline.

Anonymous said...

Hello there!!! Just had my experience at Astoria Plaza..We thought we won talaga.. Because we had dined at Tagaytay & had filed raffle ticket.
Ms. Beth from Astoria said "NO FINANCIAL OBLIGATION".. Hence... Me and my Aunt went there..thought we knew what they will offer bec. my friend told mo so.. and she said we could reject or decline their offer we could could go out and have the certificate.
Dinner was okey..In about 15 mins.HE was presenting Astoria's partner and so on..I told him if we could just at least have 30 mins.of his discussion precise and quick.
He reacted( the agent)sarcasticly and presume we would want to cut his presentation & called his "GM" daw.. His GM was arrogant.. Told us.."Alam nyo naman 90 mins. di ba? baka naman gawa-gawa nyo lang ang emergency na yan kaya gusto nyo umalis" really.. we need to go home cause its making our precious time in a trash..We finished the presentation.. Adelantado naman ang agent..It was over 90 minutes.almost 2 1/2 hours kaming nakikinig ng masyadong ma LURE na offer..enticing nga pero walang etiqutte ang mga agent.. salamat sa pagkain..naupset tyan ko kahit abg konti lng ng kinain ko dahil sa pamimilit nyo!scammers