I don’t know about you, but February means only one thing for me: PTAA Travel Expo! This year, it’s going to be on Feb 5-7 in SMX. I think I’ve been going for the past three years, and I intend to go again this year. If you’re a Travel Expo virgin, here are some tips that I am hoping would be helpful in making the experience a rewarding one for you (or make you realize that the Expo is not for you).
1. If you can’t be there at 5AM, then do yourself a favor and be there in the afternoon instead.
I don’t know what time the earliest ones arrive, but last year we were there at 7AM to find the line already snaking all the way to the back of the building and ended up entering the venue at 11AM (gates open at 10AM). The longest lines tend to be those of Cebu Pacific and AirAsia, so if you’re eyeing those – 5AM might be worth it.
If you do arrive early, get the fliers being distributed so that you could start considering which flights/tours you are interested in.
2. If booking flights on PAL, don’t bother lining up in their booth unless you arrive really early.
Their discounted fares are also available at some travel agencies (some with a little premium, but worth it if it means saving 3 hours lining up). This is how I booked my flight to the US. Oh, and don’t forget you could book a multi-city trip, e.g. MNL-LAX, JFK(NY)/SFO-MNL.
If you know a travel agent/agency, you don’t even have to go to the expo. The fares are usually loaded in their system at 12MN of the 1st day. Just email them your preferred schedule so they can reserve it for you.
3. Very important: check online as well.
If you have a specific airline or destination in mind, try to check their website if they are offering the same expo rates online – it could just save you time, effort, and money.
4. It’s not just flights. It’s also hotels, tours and even visa processing.
I was able to book discounted, open-dated (but subject to availability upon reservation) hotels in Tagaytay, Cebu, Baguio etc. If you already have a specific date, though, better check agoda.com first or the hotel website to see if there are better deals to be had.
If you’re going to Japan, there are normally discounted visa processing fees on offer (normal cost of P1,500-P2,500 offered for just P500-P800)
5. And not just that, luxury hotels are also included.
Think Lagen, Miniloc, Pangulasian (El Nido), Two Seasons, Huma (Coron), Discovery Shores (Boracay), among others, at least for the past years. A complete list of 2016 exhibitors can be found here.
6. If you are thinking of traveling soon, sometimes there are discounts as well.
Last year, for example, the London flights of PAL were on extreme discount for March travel (less than P30k if I remember correctly!)
7. Don’t forget to bring your passport details (and that of your companion/s) as some airlines require this when booking.
8. It’s better to already have options for dates and destinations so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the variety of offerings.
9. Citibank credit card holders don’t have to pay the entrance fee.
This is normally around P50 per person. Senior Citizens around P20 if I’m not mistaken.
10. Even if you’re not yet ready to book, it’s also worth getting the fliers of travel agencies
These could be a good starting point for your itinerary/ies in the future! Plus, you might see other destinations you haven’t considered before.
11. Better to come with friends!
Divide and conquer would be a good strategy here. Don’t forget to have your phone/s and power bank/s fully charged as you could be making many phone calls to travel buddies, and will be using your 3G to compare prices online.
Don’t worry about the food – there are food stalls inside.
Do you think the Expo is for you?
Or have you been to the Expo before? Any tips you could add to the above? Share in the comments section!
UPDATE ON 2016 EXPO:
Jetstar and Cebu Pacific started offering their expo rates online starting on the 12:00MN Feb 5, so if this is the target, just book from the comfort of your home.
Meanwhile, PAL Travel Expo Deals are as low as US$700 RT to NY/SFO/LA! Really good deal!
Business Class still so expensive though. I heard PAL sometimes offers Buy 1, Take 1 (or Buy 1, Take 2 as my English prof would say) for its business class, so this is not the best deal for it.
Complete list below:
El Nido resorts (If I could, I would!)
Other hotels (eg Pear Farm, Discovery Tagaytay)
Not a lot of savings vis-a-vis their online (hotel website/agoda) offers.
*I was not actually able to go. These are from friends / my own inquiry. Been to the expo today? Share your experience in comments section below!*