Saturday, August 1, 2009

Why there's no such thing as a free trip to Las Vegas

If you get an offer to attend a seminar on travel opportunities in the mail from a new company in San Antonio take a pass on it. It’s the typical high pressure sales firm which preys on your hope to travel a lot and save money.
In their advertisement, the company promises a free trip with hotel and airfare to Las Vegas just for attending their seminar. If my wife and I showed up on time for our 8 p.m. seminar located at 1102 E. Sonterra, we would have gotten a $50 Visa gift card.
As a marketing and communications professional, I knew that we would get a high pressure sales pitch, and I was not disappointed. This company, which uses two to three names in each presentation, kept asking for nearly $9000 for us to sign up.
First, a junior sales rep named “Dave” captured some information about and where we would to travel in the future. Then, a senior sales rep named “Jere” took over and gave a sales overview of how their travel program would repay the nearly $9000 we would invest in their 10-year travel program.
After their 90-minute presentation, my wife and I passed on their offer despite several offers to lower their membership costs. We were then taken to another sales rep who gave us our voucher for our “free trip.” However, she first offered us a five-year deal for $1995.
When I got home from our seminar, I noticed that there were some extra costs with our free trip in the voucher given to us. First, the Good Times Travel Company would charge us $50 each to process our trip request. We also would have to fly to either Chicago or Orlando to fly to Las Vegas. A quick review of one of those mainstream travel sites showed that travel to Chicago would cost us more than $500 to then fly to Las Vegas.
During Jere’s presentation, the featured hotel in his presentation for Las Vegas was Circus Circus, a hotel I once visited during a business trip. The hotel maid staff never changed the towels or cleaned the room during a 3-day trip.
This travel firm gives a visitor an initial impression of a professional organization. Their office is located in a new building along the Sonterra Boulevard corridor. However, I wondered why the sales reps never gave me their full name, a business card and took my flyer with their offer of a free trip.
I could complain to the Federal Trade Commission or the Texas Attorney General about this firm, but that would take time. Instead, I hope that those who read this blog will pass on their “free” offer to travel to one of their dream trips.

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