Who doesn’t love a travel deal? In your search have you seen promotions that seem too good to be true? For example, how can a hotel offer 3 nights accommodation plus water park tickets and a $100 restaurant gift card for $129? That’s because these promotions are from timeshare companies looking to introduce their resort, and timeshare ownership, to new people via a timeshare presentation. It’s totally true – Two hours of your time can “fund” vacations to resorts across the country!
I’m a happy timeshare owner of 15 years, sharing tips and advice for timeshare vacations whether you own one or not! If you’re not a timeshare owner and thought about taking advantage of these travel offers, I’m here to give you the ins and outs of attending a timeshare presentation so you’ll feel confident and empowered and never talked into buying something you don’t want or can’t afford.
It’s important to know that timeshares are more complicated to sell than a home or vacation condo, and it’s overwhelmingly a buyer’s, not a seller’s, market. So never let yourself be talked into buying a timeshare or any other serious, large purchase!
Wait, What is a Timeshare?
If you’re thinking to yourself “What is a Timeshare Exactly?!?” Timeshares are partial vacation ownerships of condo-like units in resort developments. They are owned, operated, and maintained by independent resorts, small chains, and large timeshare companies like Hilton Grand Vacations Club, Club Wyndham, Marriott Vacation Club, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Hyatt Residence Club and Disney. You might have stayed in a timeshare rental before without realizing it!
Timeshare sales is big business! In 2019, there was $10.2 billion (yes billions!) in timeshare purchases in America. That’s almost twice as much as Sephora’s sales. The global vacation ownership market is expected to reach $40 billion in 2023. In order to grow their business, they need to sell timeshares to……. You! Remember, just like Facebook, if something is free, YOU are the product being sold.
As with any large commitment, it is important to consider the legally binding financial relationship that you are entering when purchasing a timeshare. This is not the type of decision to make on a whim, three margaritas deep while on vacation at the resort. Can your budget (and your emergency fund) comfortably cover all of the costs? Even the annual maintenance fees during job loss, retirement, or a pandemic?
Where are these Timeshare Presentation Promotions?
These timeshare presentation promotions can be found both online and in person. While I’ve personally never seen them in person, fellow timeshare owners have reported timeshare promotion kiosks in destinations with tons of timeshare resorts like Las Vegas, Orlando, and Branson offering a free vacation in exchange for attending a timeshare presentation. If you’re looking to build an entire “free” vacation, you can credit card hack your way to free flights, too!
If you’re looking online these cheap vacation packages can be found via a simple Google search. For example, the website Timeshare Orlando (at the time of this publication) had 12 different resort promotions listed. Here’s a flavor of the type of promotions that are offered. They often come with a gift card covering most or all of the price of the booking cost.
Last year Karee Blunt from our Woven Journey took advantage of one of these timeshare presentation travel deals at Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. In her experience, it was worth it to sit through a presentation to score free vacation accommodations.
“We took a chance on a free timeshare presentation deal and are happy to say it worked out just fine. For 90 minutes of our time, we enjoyed three free nights at a family-friendly resort in Las Vegas with a lazy river and beautiful pool! Even though we knew we weren’t planning on buying the timeshare package, we are interested in traveling and looked at it as a chance to learn more about our options. In the end, we said no thanks and simply went on our way.”
If you want to score these hotel promotions like Karee, and rock attending these timeshare presentations it’s important to educate yourself so you don’t get pressured into buying something on a whim. Here’s are my 5 Tips to Attend Timeshare Presentations Empowered!
Tip#1: Double Check that You Meet Their Qualifications
These deals can be an amazing way to travel on the cheap, but you have to meet the qualifications outlined in the Terms and Conditions. Remember, by making this type of promotional reservation, you are confirming that you meet their requirements and promise to attend a timeshare presentation. Here’s a variety of conditions found in the fine print to give you a sense:
- Couples living in the same household with a combined income of $50,000; Must have the same address on their ID; Must attend the timeshare presentation together
- Single people 30 years of age and older with an annual income of 45K or more may qualify
- Must be currently employed
- Must be creditworthy (no bankruptcies, foreclosures, or liens in the past two years)
- Cannot be in the process of home loan modifications/refinance
- Must pay 13% room tax and $20.00 daily resort fee due at check-in
- Must have a credit card that is not connected to a debit account
- Only for the U.S. Residents that reside in AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KT, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY.
Tip #2: The Timeshare Presentation is Required. Seriously
By booking this reservation, you agree to go to a timeshare presentation and cannot skip it. The reason they are offering room accommodations for free, or close to it, is to get people to attend these meetings. A majority of timeshare purchases are made during these presentations, so timeshare companies know the more people who attend, the more sales they can make.
Listen, they are not playing around with this requirement. If you do not go to a timeshare presentation your credit card will be charged the full retail price of the accommodations, or a flat fee of around $300, depending on the resort. You have to hold up your side of this travel deal and can’t get out of it.
Tip #3: Set Your Phone Timer
You agreed to attend a timeshare presentation to get this offer, but only for the amount of time listed in the promo fine print – and not one second longer. You’re on vacation, don’t waste half a day in a hotel conference room. If the promo you booked says a 90-minute timeshare presentation, start your phone timer the minute the meeting begins. Once you’ve given your time, your obligation is fulfilled. Period.
Do not let them tell you otherwise, make you feel bad or talk you into spending any more time with them. Something as simple as, “Thanks for sharing this information with me. The required 90 minutes is up. Take care! Get out of your seat and go back to enjoying your vacation.
Tip #4: Keep Your ID and Credit Card in Your Own Hand
Yes, you are required to “present” an ID or Credit card, but present it in your own hand. Do not let them keep it or take it anywhere. If I was at a car dealership shopping for a car I’d do the exact same thing. If they give you a hard time, play their fine print language back to them, and stay friendly. “I’m presenting you my ID. I only give my ID to customs at the airport. Or when a police officer pulls me over for speeding.” Laugh, and smile! A little light-heartedness goes a long way!
This piece is critical because if they have your ID or credit card, it will be tough to get it back once your phone timer goes off. If you have all of your items in your wallet, you can leave once your part of the deal is done. If they have your stuff, you’re kinda a hostage in a timeshare presentation. I’ve been there at a car dealership and it’s not fun.
Tip #5: Arm Yourself with a Resale Listing
Are there some bad apples in a barrel? Yes. Are there some high-pressure sales tactics? Yes. If you find yourself in a very uncomfortable timeshare sales pitch, show them a printout of a resale listing for their exact resort and ask them if they can match the price. Spoiler: They can’t. You’ll be at the pool before you know it.
What Is a Timeshare Resale Listing?
Did you know there is a resale market for timeshares where existing owners sell their unwanted timeshares to other people? You can save 75 to 99% of resort sales price by buying a timeshare in the resale market. These are the timeshare deals that the salesperson won’t tell you about! Timeshare Users Group (TUG), the oldest and largest timeshare owners group and advocacy organization hits it right on the head when they say, “Why would anyone buy from a resort if they could get the exact same “used condo” week, at the exact same resort property, for pennies on the dollar from an existing owner?”
Where Can You Find Timeshare Resale Listings?
One of the best places to find timeshare resale listings is TUG’s owner-to-owner marketplace. It is one of the largest and most visited timeshare classified ad sites on the internet, with $30 million in timeshare sales, $18 million in owner direct timeshare rentals, and one-week vacation exchanges between timeshare owners. If you can’t find the resort you are visiting there, check out Redweek.com, the largest online marketplace for timeshare sales and rentals. Both sites are fantastic, reliable resources to arm yourself with information for timeshare presentations.
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