We spent three hours of a recent vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico sitting through our first ever timeshare sales pitch. Here’s the reality of our experience. Read on to evaluate if the sales presentation reward you’re promised makes it worth your time.
Rental Car Agency Is Intermediary For Timeshare Sales Agents
For me and my husband, the adventure began at the rental car dealership at Los Cabos International Airport in Baja California. We had just learned that our US$467 car rental booked through our airline had ballooned into a US$1,400 expense because of newly required taxes and insurance.
Our combined fury and confusion was dissipated when the rental agent told us her friend Alberto would explain to us how things worked in Los Cabos. And indeed, Alberto did seem to know how things worked in the region.
What Are Timeshares? Guide To Interval Ownership Investments
How things work in a lot of resort communities in the U.S., Mexico and Caribbean is that they rely on investment dollars, put up by fractional (or timeshare, “week by week” or “interval”) owners. Whatever you call it, a lot of resorts are financed by short-stay visitors who come on vacation, then put down cash to be able to repeat the experience at a big discount later.
Basically, visitors pay an upfront fee or deposit to become “members” of the resort which is, typically, part of a larger vacation club brand. That fee and annual dues guarantee a certain amount of time at a resort of their choice. We’ll call it a timeshare because that’s probably the best known name for these units, many of which are part of vacation rental pools.
How We Got Sucked Into A Timeshare Pitch
Alberto asked if we were upset about the car rental price? Our mood was obvious. He chirped, “You want to make $300 cash towards the car rental tomorrow morning?” Alberto urged us to see one of the local resort sales presentations. He said we’d be paid to do it.
We explained that we not interested in purchasing anything at any of the local resorts. Nice and easygoing, the charming Alberto explained that he would make a commission from our visit. He made it easy for us to accept his invitation.
Skip The Beach To Hear A Timeshare Sales Presentation
Vacation day two, at 8:30am, we showed up at the gates of the designated resort. We waved the paper “Invitation” that Alberto had made for us and the guard cheered us on.
The resort’s sales people could not have been nicer. However, Lupita had many questions and wanted to see a credit card. Then, she wanted to see our passports to verify our identities. She asked if we had proof that as two adults with different surnames, we were married.
Alberto had warned us that the process might seem way too intrusive. He was not wrong.
Lupita asked what we had paid for the Marriott Villa rental we had. Apparently, one of the new member perks offered is that the sales team moves you out of the resort you’re currently in. They get you a refund for unused days then move you right into your new timeshare at no charge.
Get To Know Your Customers
Lupita explained that she represented a vacation club that was different than others, because it had so many properties. Membership deposits were tiered. For a certain deposit, you had access to Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, The Registry Collection of upscale resorts, RCI (another interval ownership marketplace), plus any Marriott Vacation Club.
Lupita then turned us over to Fernanda, a more senior sales agent who asked the same personal questions. Fernanda, once satisfied, turned us over to Martin.
He was a master salesman, very articulate, with a deep background in the travel business. Martin hopped into a golf cart. He promised us a quick tour of this very beautiful all-inclusive resort with distant views of the sea. We would talk more over a free buffet breakfast.
What To Keep In Mind About A Timeshare Sales Pitch
Martin asked us, rhetorically, “What do you need to know about purchasing a timeshare?” Then he answered himself.
First, you need to know that you’re going to have to verify your identity and your credit rating.
Second, be aware that the promised 90 minutes sales presentation is more likely a 2½ hour experience.
Third, understand that these are legitimate sales practices in every major resort area in the U.S., Mexico, Caribbean and probably around the world.
Benefits Of A Vacation Club, Timshare Or Fractional Ownership
Martin was very articulate about his vacation club’s benefits. He spent more time to flesh out the values in his timeshare pitch.
First, he explained which kind of resorts we could use our membership points for. He told us how we could profit from private hacks that he used to maximize his own membership. Martin assured us that we would receive “discounted resort points” because the resort we were in was owned by Hyatt, so these were points that could be used in the way Hyatt members did.
Many of you probably already use hotel loyalty points to get free rooms when you travel with your family. This was a much more comprehensive plan, explained Martin. That’s because you pay an annual fee which Martin said was not an annual fee.
What Does A Timeshare Cost These Days?
Instead of an annual fee, we would pay a one-time membership fee broken down into annual payments. In this case, the fee ranged from just under $30,000 to just under $150,000. For that fee, you acquired a “certain number of weeks vacations at more than 100 resorts around the world in addition to having access to Marriott, other brands, and to resorts in the RCI resort collection.”
The membership fee could be paid off each month with a five- to 15-year contract. We could then benefit from up to 40 weeks of heavily discounted vacation time over five years. Or, up to 160 weeks depending on the fee. Over a longer period of time there were, uh… so many, many more years of enjoying vacations at a fraction of their true retail value.
Martin was a very convincing salesperson. It was soon apparent to me and my husband that, if we pulled out our credit card and put down the deposit he suggested, we would, in fact, save money on upcoming resort vacations.
Do Vacation Club Memberships Make Sense For You?
His next question was “Is this kind of ownership for you?” Well, Martin’s very skilled presentation did make economic sense to us.
But, for us, wanderlust-struck empty nesters with no grandchildren, it wasn’t the right time to invest in this kind of travel opportunity. We stammered… we enjoyed traveling, we enjoyed going to different places, we loved being independent explorers. Not for us…
Closing The Vacation Club Sales Pitch
Martin knew the drill and was willing to up the perks to close this sale. He started scribbling on a sales pitch deck and making Venn diagrams of what we owned. Martin added what we borrowed, what was free. He kept giving us higher benefits (more weeks, more points to use, higher caliber resorts, etc.) The costs went lower and lower.
This was it, today’s deal. Only if we made the commitment, right then and there overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
For us, the answer was clear. No. We asked to take these papers away and think about it. For Martin, it was no papers; this offer was only valid today.
“I make this offer for you because you are sitting in front of me,” he declared with a classic ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ smile. A flash of fury crossed his face when we said NO again.
Decide If A Timeshare Sales Pitch Will Occupy Time On Your Vacation
At the gate, another friendly agent gave us US$300 in $20 bills.
Perhaps our experience has helped you understand what one of these sales presentations may be like. Is it for you?
For us, listening to a timeshare sales pitch was an interesting alternative to getting a sunburn.
Evaluate your vacation time against this opportunity. For you, deducting 2½ hours from a pricey theme park day to sit through a timeshare sales pitch may not make sense. You are, however, likely to get a very good deal if your family loves resorts.
If you meet another Martin one day in your travels, let us know what you decide to do.
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