How about a Filipino consortium to flex our buying power as a community?

By Eduardo Pena

I grew up with many community leaders and have witnessed some of the many events that they have organized. Unfortunately, they are all relatively the same and nothing differentiates one dinner gala from the other except each organization’s effort to provide special program of entertainment.

Double Tree, Astoria World Manor, Renaissance, Newark Hilton, and Glenpointe are venues commonly used by our organizations.

The occasional dinner dance or fashion show is nice, but the hotel service is sometimes terrible. The guests who are obligated to attend these events suffer from the high ticket price (anywhere from $75 to $100) and are typically served mediocre food along with lackluster service. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Some Filipino organizations don’t realize that hotels may be taking advantage of them. They are not aware that we as an organized community can negotiate fair rates, demand better food and expect better quality of service. Some hotels think we, as a community, are not sophisticated enough to use our buying power as a community. I would disagree with that perception.

Filipino Americans are smart and sophisticated and have buying power. We are able to get better pricing if only we combine our efforts.

With that said, we should consider consolidating the community to establish a stronger buying power when booking events in catering halls or hotels. Get the community leaders to organize their events for the 2016 calendar year. Propose two events instead of one for a better price, or book two to three years in advance to lock in deeper discounts.

How can we do this? Here are some suggestions:

• Have the community leaders set aside their differences.
• Someone needs to take the lead with organizing the community by establishing a calendar of events, identify events that require a hotel venue, appoint one contact person to represent all organizations and negotiate with chosen venues.
• That person should be able to articulate and negotiate the best price while aiming for high standards for the organizations.
The benefits are numerous:

• Potential savings. If the organization is charged less per person, then you will have more for your organization.
• Increase added amenities.
• Improved quality of service.
• Promote perception of buying power of the Filipino community.
• Encourage a bidding war for the Filipino business.
For all the naysayers or half-empty glass thinkers out there, other nonprofit groups have done it, and it works.

Filipinos deserve better and we deserve more.

Folks, it has been said that Pinoys can easily be taken advantage of because we are perceived to be complacent and we simply accept what is given to us. Does that statement apply to your organization? Other ethnic groups usually question when prices are not favorable.
Remember the ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ analogy?

There is a lot of work to be done, but the first thing that we should do is to work together and to work as one.

Eduardo Pena is the president of Liter of Light USA, a non-profit organization that seeks to bring the eco-friendly bottle light to communities living without electricity. He was Overall Chair for PAFCOM in 2012.

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