“I can get you $70 cash and two free tickets to two shows of your choice.”
That began my love/hate relationship with timeshare presentations.
What are timeshare presentations?
My first encounter with a timeshare presentation came when my wife and I visited the Branson, MO travel center to retrieve our travel package for our hotels and some shows. As the agent was pulling up our information, he asked us what we’d be doing in 3 hours.
“Uh, sorry guy, we don’t know you like that.”
He informed us that he could get us some money and free show tickets for two hours of our time. Intrigued, we ask how. He told us that all we had to do was sit through a Wyndham sales presentation with no obligation to buy anything. He explained that Wyndham Resorts offers free gifts just for coming to listen to their sales pitch for two hours. We can choose to buy or not to buy. Either way, we keep our gifts.
In other words, it was just another way they advertised their timeshares. Instead of spending all of their advertising dollars on television and print ads, they used some of that ad money to pay for gifts to attract people to their sales pitches. People are more likely to buy if they see what they’re getting.
Gifts I’ve gotten
Over the years, I think I’ve attended 6 timeshare presentations. At the end of each one, I keep telling myself that I’m not going to another one. I tell myself that the time I waste and the stress is not worth it.
But, the gifts! The gifts keep pulling me back in.
As I mentioned earlier, the first gift I got was $70 cash and tickets to two shows. The average ticket cost was about $60. With two tickets for each show plus to $70, that was a value of $310 for two hours of our time.
Our usual gifts were some variation of cash, show or theme park tickets, and food. The value of these gifts would average out to around $300.
The best value my wife and I have gotten was this year. By doing a Westgate presentation, we got a 4-night resort stay in Orlando, Florida for $99. Our hotel room was almost as big as our home.
What they say they’re selling
The way they put it, they are all selling memories. I’m not kidding when I say that every timeshare presentation has used some variation of the same script.
The presenters put all of the potential buyers (about 10 other married couples) in a meeting room and pair us with a salesperson. Then a presenter gets up to explain the company and get everyone excited. They always start off by asking the group how much they spent on their last vacation. Then they ask what everyone’s dream vacation is. Next, comes a lot of math.
This is just an example, it’s pretty much how it goes at all the presentations I’ve experienced.
“On average how many days a year are you on vacation?”
I get 28 days but my wife gets 14, so we say that we take 14 together.
“Ok, now how much do you usually spend on hotel accommodations per night?
My wife is great at finding deals, so we usually don’t spend more than $100. But, they go with a higher price from someone else. $150.
Then they multiply our vacation days by the price of the hotel. $2,100.
“Wow, $2,100 a year just on a hotel. That’s a lot of money! How many more years do you plan on vacationing?”
The average answer is 25.
“Alright, 25 years times $2,100. $52,500. But wait, we forgot something. Over that 25 years do you think the price of hotels will go up or down.”
“That’s right! The price goes up.”
And, through some combination of hotel inflation and taxes, they end up with with a lifetime hotel cost of $150,000.
“Where did that $150,000 go? You spent all that money and have nothing to show for it!” Now, what if I can show you a way that you can go on your dream vacation every year for less than that and still have something to show for it. You can go to those dream destinations without worrying about where you’re going to stay. You’ll create stories that will be with you for a lifetime and can share with your kids.”
“See we’re not selling timeshares, we’re selling memories!”
What they’re actually selling
What they are actually selling is the right to use a certain property at certain times of the year. You don’t actually own the physical location. Let’s say you own a vacation home. You can visit that home any time you want because it’s yours, but you’re limited to that one location.
With timeshares, you are allotted time to a resort’s condo unit every year. It’s great for seeing the world because if the resort owns property in a location you want to visit, you can stay there. The only problem is you have to be very flexible about when you go.
You also have to pay for timeshare maintenance fees which range from $600 to $2000 a year. The maintenance fee pays for the upkeep of the timeshare property.
Most timeshares today use a point system. The value of points changes depending on the time of the year. For example, you buy a package with 7,000 points. That 7,000 points may get you a 7-day vacation. One day, a stay would cost you 1000 points, the next it cost you 1,400. That’s a 5-day vacation. That’s still pretty good if all you need is a 5-day vacation and you don’t have an option to go another week.
You also have the ability to borrow points from the next year if you don’t have enough points for the current year for the vacation you want.
Tactics they use to get you to buy
The purpose of the presentation is to impress you enough to buy a timeshare package. They lure you in with gifts and tell you everything you can do with your timeshare. Unlike, regular hotels, you can pass timeshares on to your kids when you’re done with it or sell it. They show you great rooms you can stay in; some better than my home. Then the salesperson goes through all of the packages you can get. If you can’t afford $100,000 package with a $30,000 down payment, he can get you a $50,000 package with a $15,000 down payment.
“No? How about this $20,000 package with a $6,000 down payment. Think of the memories you can make!“
Honestly, I don’t mind that. I understand that it’s the salesperson’s job to attempt to make the sale. What I don’t like is what comes after the salesperson realizes we won’t buy from them. They thank us for taking the time to listen to them and then ask what we were promised for the presentation. After we tell them what we were promised, they get up and say they will go get someone who has the paperwork to release our gifts.
Someone else comes out, but they don’t instead of releasing our gifts, they offer us another deal. They explain that they have access to deals to the previous salesperson doesn’t.
“Check this out. $10,000 no down payment and no maintenance fees. We can finance this right now if you let us run your credit.“
We would decline again. That seller would then leave to “really” get to paperwork for our gifts. However, another salesperson comes out with one last deal. In the interest of discloser, I have to admit that my wife and I did the last offer. It was a 10-day resort stay in a full sized condo for $700. My wife wanted to go on a girls trip and figured she could get some friends to pay a portion of it. I’ll have to explain at the end why that probably wasn’t a good idea. However, the third salesperson usually does have the paperwork for the promised gifts.
The point is you can expect very-high pressure sales pitches during these presentations. I find these tactics disgusting. A promised 2-hour presentation can easily turn into 4-hours because of this. They try to wear you down. People often have buyers remorse after making a purchase at the presentation. That’s why there are laws that give us a rescission period. You have a right to rescind (cancel) your purchase in 5-15 days.
Is it worth it
I don’t know too much about timeshare ownership, but I’ve heard that no one should ever pay full price at timeshare presentations. This is because you can often buy timeshares cheaper from a timeshare owner then the resort. Nerdwallet wrote a great article on this here. It mentions a couple who paid $1 (not a typo, 1 buck) for a timeshare.
Are the presentations worth it? To me, it’s worth it if you have the time and have nothing better to do. You have to ask your self how much your time is worth. The average value of the gifts is about $300 for a married couple. With a presentation lasting 2 hours, that’s $150 an hour.
My worst experience at a presentation happened in Vegas. My wife and I had no plans of doing a presentation until a woman at the hotel we were staying at got our attention. We were offered a buffet and MJ Live ticket if we attended a Cancun Resort timeshare presentation and were to be shuttled from our hotel to the Cancun Resort a few miles away for the “2-hour presentation”. They promised that the shuttle would take us back to the hotel. We nothing to do for a few hours so we agreed.
With all of the tactics they used, the presentation lasted 3 hours. For some reason, the salespeople really thought we would be buying that day and kept us until we were the only couple left in the room. Not only that, the last shuttle for the day had already. We waited an hour as they contacted the resorts personal transport. Sure we could have called an Uber, but it’s the principle. That experience definitely wasn’t worth it.
What’s your experience?
That’s my experience with timeshare presentations. Keep in mind that this is not an attack on timeshares. I would actually get one if I could afford it. So, do you own a timeshare or have any experience going to the presentations. Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
Oh, before I go, I have to mention the 10-day resort stay we paid for. As I mentioned before, gifts vary. Some people get $300 worth of show tickets whiles others get a $50 gas card for the same presentation. While reading up on timeshares I’ve learned that some couples received 10-day resort stay as their gift. It makes me question how much resort stays are really worth.
Again, thanks for reading.