So you’re going to go on a timeshare presentation. You’re not really sure how this happened, but you’re going. Maybe you got a postcard, maybe you were on vacation and accepted those Disney/Universal tickets, maybe you answered an ad on Craigslist, and maybe someone you know is in touch with a person who runs a resort. In any event, you’re going.
Shouldn’t you know what you’re in for?? Wouldn’t you like to have some inside information?? Timeshare and travel club presentations have such a wonderful reputation. How do you do the best for your family??
Back before Wyndham, there was Cendant. Back before the Cendant organization bought Fairfield to merge with Equivest, there was Eastern Resorts. Starting back in 2001, I was a top salesperson for Eastern Resorts and went through all those changes. Timeshare is a great product but it is sold and marketed in a horrible way. Before I went off on my own as an independent investor, I own 141 weeks, I was the Sales Director at the Newport Bay Club. I managed to take a lot of the horribleness out of the presentation. Today, let’s talk about how to make that whole process work for you.
Before even going to the presentation, you have to decide if timeshare is right for you. It’s not right for everyone – including some owners. This doesn’t happen as much anymore, but timeshare resorts are pretty spectacular and some couples fall victims to the “ether”. This is more likely to happen if you have your kids with you. Do yourselves and your “presenter” for the day a favor – leave the kids with a sitter if you can. If you can’t, expect the Disney button to get pushed, a lot.
To decide if timeshare is right for you, you’re going to do 2 exercises. First, ask yourself, “Do we really vacation at least one week per year as a family??” You do or you don’t.
Following that, I need you to do some math. You know what you spend per night on hotels when on vacation. Multiply that by 7. Multiply that by 25. Multiply that by 1.47. Subtract 30,000. That’s the amount of timeshare you should buy.
So using Newport, RI’s base numbers, $238/night times 7 = $1666. Times 25 = $41650. Times 1.47 = $52,896. Minus $30,000 = $22,896. Ideally, you would not spend more than that for a timeshare. For fear of boring everyone with theory, if you email me privately, I will share how the formula works. I’m sure some of you have figured it out already. On the presentation, you should see a version of it except for the “minus $30,000” part.
Ok, so now you’re ready to go. You have your number in mind. If you got a card in the mail or contacted while on vacation, the 90 minute presentation will feel like you’re being sold vinyl siding. In a lot of ways, the timeshare presentation and the vinyl siding presentation are exactly the same. Try to ignore that if you like the product. If you’re meeting someone at a resort, the presentation will feel more like you’re buying a combination of burial plots and insurance on a bad day, just hanging out with a friend on a good day. Again, if the product is right for you, try to ignore if the salesperson is in bad day mode.
In both cases, their goals are the same. Make a friend out of you, show you a great resort, present a high opening price, and then use a bunch of tricks to make it feel like you “got a deal”. Everyone in the history of timeshare who bought at a resort will have some story about the deal they got. Here’s the dirty little secret – you all got the same price.
So if it’s a great product, why all the games?? Marketing cost.
To put you, and every other couple, in the room it can cost $600. If there’s a “podium speaker” with a whiteboard or a power point and they’re staring at 8 couples, they know there’s $4800 in company cost staring back at them. I was a podium speaker for a travel club. I know this feeling all too well.
The company thinks anybody can sell 1 out of 12. They expect salespeople who stay with the company to reliably hit 1 out of 10. 1 out of 8 can send you to the hall of fame. At the end of my career I was 1 out of 5. Everything that is about to happen to you, everything you are about to hear and see, all the games played with pricing is centered on this math.
For this reason, the presentation makes the product sound a little more perfect than it is. Plan to spend 65-85% of your vacations at your home resort so make sure you’re happy with it. RCI and II all work fine. On the presentation, you’ll be asked for 5 dream vacations to reinforce this point. Problem is real life happens too.
Same things are true for point systems. You’ll all kinds of things about “being able to take two weeks after buying only one” and “one week here in Newport is worth 183 days in Fairfield Glade in Tennessee”. Those things are all true, but 65-85% of the time, real life happens and you will not take advantage of them.
“Hey Bobby, why are you bothering with all this when people are giving weeks away for a $1?”
Yes they are – off season weeks bought because they couldn’t afford the product in the first place or because the weeks are event centered. Think about weeks that happen when boat shows and art festivals are in town. All the hot weeks for $1 have been scooped up by investors like me. We use them for rental purposes.
I literally get calls every week from somebody at some resort saying, “The Jones’s are in their 80’s, they really don’t want their July week any more, kids aren’t into it, would you like to take it off their hands??”
That’s why we’re talking. That’s why you need to know after 75 minutes of the presentation are over and they finally show you a price, just like vinyl siding, multiply by .6 and that’s the price you can have it for. When you say no to the first price, I can’t even get into all the ways they’re going to “set the narrative and do the drop”. Most salespeople can’t remember the various scripts.
Again, at this point, you know whether you like the resort enough to spend 16 to 20 of the next 25 vacations there. You also know your bottom line number. Look at your salesperson square in the face and say, “I know you don’t have the ability to do this, but we will pay X”.
If the salesperson has been trained correctly, the following words will come out of their mouth almost robotically, “So if the price is X, you will do this today?? Which credit card will you use for the initial investment??”
If they say “down payment”, they failed my “naughty words” class.
After you answer in the affirmative, if the salesperson comes back alone with paperwork, you actually could have gone lower. If they come back with the “manager”, it has very little to do with you. The manager will have been told by the salesperson the salesperson’s recounting of the story and the manager will not believe the salesperson.
The manager can literally ok any number the computer will accept. So even if he/she says “we can’t do that”, don’t be surprised when you get up to walk away that suddenly he/she can. Remember that $600?? Use it to your advantage. Don’t be ridiculous but use it to your advantage.
If you’re going on a presentation, have two conversations with your partner. Are you really vacation people?? What is your magic number?? Go on the presentation, see an amazing resort, have an outstanding time. When you get to the money, remember it’s nothing personal. The number fits or it does not. Be in silent control.
Oh, I didn’t mention those “gifts” you got for showing up?? Outside of “attraction tickets”, would they be giving them away if the place was full during those times?, they represent about 4% of that $600. Yeah, good luck with those.
Bobby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit his blog at bobbyo1967.wordpress.com