"It's not a timeshare" they said...
"We just want to share some exciting features and updates of our resort" they said...
"It's only an hour" they said...
Regardless of what a salesperson (or five) may say, it's pretty much all the same. Buckle up and be prepared to lose a minimum of two hours of your life.
Now, the questions you need to ask yourself before you agree or refuse to attend a timeshare presentation are:
Am I willing to lose 2-3 hours of my life?
Is the resort offering some kind of perk that I really want and am willing to lose precious pool/beach time to take advantage of the deal?
Am I open to the idea of actually purchasing a timeshare?
Am I going to lose my patience, temper, or positive perception of the resort if I go to the presentation?
Let's tackle these questions one by one.
1. Am I willing to lose 2-3 hours of my life?
No matter what they say, this is how much time you will spend with the presenters (plural) you will not escape after having a friendly breakfast with your initial salesperson. The clock doesn't even start until after you've finished the complimentary meal that they give you.
2. Is the resort offering some kind of perk that I really want and am willing to lose precious pool/beach time to take advantage of the deal?
Don't settle for their first offer when they ask you to go to a presentation. If they offer a bungee jumping trip, ask for spa credits as well. If they offer general resort credits, ask for more, and some spa credits. If they offer you spa credits, ask for more (I love free spa stuff FYI). Over the years I've received upgraded rooms, resort credits, spa credits (obvi), free outdoor excursions, you name it to go to a presentation. If it's something you want and are willing to lose a few hours, go for it.
Just remember to read the fine print. If they offer you show tickets, make sure you check the location of the seats. We were promised Cirque du Soleil tickets in Las Vegas years ago but we were never told where they were. Later we found out that our view was partially obstructed by a giant pole... not happy!
Also, SAVE YOUR PAPERWORK!!! I repeat, save your paperwork. Just because the resort says that the 50% off resort fees is in your account, it may not be when you go to check out and settle your bill. Save everything.
3. Am I open to the idea of actually purchasing a timeshare?
Do you love the resort and all of its amenities? Do you want to come back every year with the family or go to their sister resorts? Timeshares in theory are not a terrible idea, but in this day and age when there are so many incredible places to stay around the world, not everyone wants to commit to a timeshare, even if they promise you that you can trade yours for anywhere across the globe. Wanderlust is real and if you're not a very picky person, you may want to continue finding amazing experiences on travel sites as well as renting homes abroad without feeling tied down to a weeklong reservation somewhere. However, for those of you who like the idea of chilling at the pool with a good book or letting the kids hang in the kids club while you get a massage, a weeklong timeshare may be a great idea. My family owns a timeshare that we purchased years ago with our best friends and we use it once a year for a relaxing resort experience. Our other trips we usually hop around from place to place so we don't need it. I learned a lot from going to timeshare presentations before we bought ours and I have many more opinions now that I've been an "owner" for several years.
Based on my experiences, here is what I've learned:
There are 4-5 different types of timeshare salespeople that you will encounter in the span of 2-3 hours. The first person "The Diner" is who you will share a meal with, she (almost always a female) is very kind, a good listener, and will praise your children if you have them. She is getting on your good side and also learning a lot about you in the process that can later be used in the sales pitch. She will sell you the dream lifestyle of the resort, its sister properties, and the sun, the moon, & the stars while walking through the resort and through model suites that are absolutely stunning. The starting price for the timeshare will be astronomical, well into the six figures so that when they come down in price, it looks like an amazing deal. Because no-one in their right mind would purchase the initial offering, "The Manager" will come by to check on the progress of "The Diner." He (almost always a male) will be a little more aggressive, and act like he can give you a much better deal due to his seniority with the company. The price will come down a lot, but it's still not worth it. Don't give in yet, even if you LOOOOVE the resort. Graciously thank them for their time but that you will pass on their offer. At this point "The Diner" will kindly state that she will have "The Manager" get the paperwork for you to leave with your free stuff that was promised in the beginning. At this point you will be greeted by the "Surprise Dealmaker" who will conveniently swoop in with some amazing deal that they just secured -surprise surprise- which will be a lower price or some kind of confusing offer that is too good to be true. After listening intently to their offer, again decline. You will then, usually, be moved to another room where you will meet "The Closer" who is supposed to be giving you your exit gifts but is in fact going to try and still sell you on a final chance at a timeshare, or at a minimum, a week for you to return to the resort. You have now moved into the power position. This is when the negotiations actually begin. If you really just want the gifts, adopt the line from the NFL player Marshawn Lynch and just keep repeating the line "I'm just here for the exit gifts" until they let you on your merry way. However, if you want to buy into a timeshare or just another week, you get to start making demands.We were able to secure a free upgrade to the presidential suite at our resort for the remaining four nights of our trip. We told the salesman that if we were going to buy into this lifestyle, we wanted to experience it firsthand. It was the nicest suite I've ever stayed in to this day. Overall I don't know if I needed to buy the timeshare but it is a nice excuse to plan a trip since I'll say "Well we do have to use that timeshare week... wink wink..."
4. Am I going to lose my patience, temper, or positive perception of the resort if I go to the presentation?
If you don't want to play games, deal with the song and dance, then don't go to the presentation. A few discounts and upgrades are not worth it if you know that it will ruin your whole day feeling like someone may or may not have tried to take advantage of you. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation.
*If anyone else has had other timeshare experiences, please share them with me. I'd love to know how others have been able to wheel and deal.
*2013 Pictures from our upgraded presidential suite... clearly I needed some work on my camera skills