Friday, February 26, 2010

NATAS Fair 2010 (Singapore) Review

I was at the NATAS (National association of Travel Agents Singapore) Fair 2010 today, and is happening now 26 Feb 2010 - 28 Feb 2010 at the Changni Expo.

This is the review of my experience.

1) Getting there. Singapore Expo, at Changni is not exactly the easiest places to get to, being really far from civilization, I decided to drive there. Going there at 7 pm on the first day isn't that bad traffic wise, but when I arrive at Singapore Expo, there was surprisingly no queue getting in. HOWEVER, THERE WAS NOT PARKING. There are lots of cars circling the carpark, cars parked on double yellow lines, curbs, etc. Any place available. It was CHAOS!

My suggestion: DON'T DRIVE -- even when Singapore EXPO is so freakin' far away.

2) Getting in. There was a loooooooonnnnnnnnnnnng queue. It took me slightly less than an hour, just to get in. I listened to the radio, and thought it was a good idea to go on a vacation with my mom, and never did I expect to pay to get into a travel fair where you PAY TO BOOK FOR A HOLIDAY??!!

3) At the entrance. There was a cash queue, it was S$4 to get in. Well there is no queue there. The Mastercard entrance is S$3 per person, and guess what, there is indeed a loooooonnnnnnnggggggg queue. For savings of S$1 per person, I wanted to chance it, and it too me another 20 minutes to get through the queue, I guess it was not worth it.

My suggestion:  Pay the extra $1 to get to the shorter queue.


4) Booths, booths and more booths. There are lots of tour agents there, trying to sell you tours to exotic places. Well, my mom was interested in the Resorts world booth as you pay very little membership points to get the rooms at this fair, so we browsed around and found the booth. There seemed to be a queue number, and we asked around, and everyone waiting for their queue number seemed to be frustrated and not very helpful. My mom approached a staff to ask where can she get the number, and she was shouted at with a very harsh tone, "Can't you see I am serving someone?"

The staff at Resorts World seemed pretty rude, especially to the people there. I reckoned that since a lot of the members are all "Silver card" members, and do spend quite a bit of money in the casinos every year, they ought to be more polite.


We arrived at the booth slightly before 8:30 pm (My phone is 15 minutes faster) and when we found queued up to get the queue numbers, a manager told us to come back tomorrow. I do not understand why the booking process is so long, and at 8:30 pm we are not allowed to book and get queue numbers.

Firstly, we were bombarded by Resorts World ads to call us to take action and book rooms at NATAS fair to enjoy this promotion. The ads include the ones we see in Genting Highlands, ads in the mail and SMSes. And finally when we acted and decided to go to NATAS fair 2010 to book, we were told to go home.

I find this extremely disturbing. How can a company that can build Resorts World in Sentosa, one of the 2 integrated Resorts in Singapore with Universal Studio and a casino have such poor form at a Travel Fair?

Firstly, many people, including 30 or more others behind us are at NATAS simply for this specific purpose. To book a room at Resorts World in Genting with their membership points. And when they leave work and arrive at NATAS on the first day, they were ALL told to go home.

Secondly, there seemed to be lack of communications to inform people especially members who have not been to a paid travel fair before that this NATAS Travel Fair 2010 cost money to get in. I would definitely be crossed if I brought my whole family along to book this ticket, travel all the way from Jurong to Changni, and was turned back and told I can't book when I left after work at 7pm and the NATAS Travel fair closes at 10pm!

If I need to pay to get in, Resorts World should inform people in their ads that people need to pay to get into this travel fair to enjoy the discounts. (I mean if it cost $50 to get in, and you save $50, why do I even need to go and book there? There is travel time, cost, etc.)

Thirdly, how can the booking process take so long? Isn't it using some efficient booking system, swiping the membership card, and simply book? Booking takes 5 - 10 minutes online, and I do not understand why they cannot allow people to book when they arrive at the booth before 8:30 pm, an hour and a half before closing time.

I expect some form of compensation for loyal customers who come and pay to get in the NATAS travel fair just to book and get turned back because of inefficient process, slow workers, slow system or other bad business practice. Face it, many people who go to Genting are not the high end crowd, but treating members in such an unprofessional manner does not buy loyalty.

I walked around and compared some prices amongst the different booths, and NONE caught my eye. Some felt slightly expensive, and others felt like false advertisements as the price of fr $138 became $578 when you include airfare and other random taxes. (For Macau)

I don't understand why there was such a crowd for everything, when there isn't much a deal. I would say when you book a $5000 vacation for your family, and they throw in a new 24" luggage bag because you use your CitiBank Masterscard looks pretty ok, but then again, its a $5000 vacation!

I was really disappointed with the fair and even more disappointed with Resorts World.

-- Robin Low


marlowe said...

Try this newest fair Travel Carnival 2011 this weekend... hope to see better deals than NATAS!

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