Timeshare presentations offer attractive perks, but there are serious risks as well. Knowing how to survive a timeshare presentation can help alleviate those risks.
Presentations are the timeshare industry’s primary marketing tool: up to 78% of timeshare owners attended at least one presentation at the resort where they eventually purchased a timeshare. 58% bought after just one presentation.
Timeshares are widely seen as a trap. Fees are high, vacation habits change, and one-sided contracts tie owners to their units for life. Still, people attend these presentations and often make decisions they later regret.
This raises some questions:
- What happens during these timeshare presentations? What tactics do they use?
- How can you avoid falling for these tricks and keep your checkbook safe?
- If you end up buying a timeshare, can you rescind your purchase?
Let’s answer all these questions, and show you how to survive a timeshare presentation. Starting with the most obvious one:
Why Would Anyone Attend a Timeshare Presentation in the First Place?
No one wants to sit through a 2-hour presentation, listening to a salesperson drone on about timeshares. Or do they?
Timeshare companies are smart. They lure you in with perks and offers that might make the presentation well worth your time. Here are some offers that others have received:
- A prepaid debit card comes with a substantial sum on it.
- Free tickets to a show.
- Discounts on hotel and resort stays that could reach up to 60%.
In return for these perks, the timeshare company or resort will ask you and your significant other to attend a 90-minute to 2-hour sales presentation.
Many people show up to these presentations just for the perks. These people are rarely prepared for the barrage of sophisticated sales tactics about to be slung their way, and many end up capitulating under all the pressure. Hence, this is why learning how to survive a timeshare presentation can be crucial.
How to Survive a Timeshare Presentation: What Exactly Happens at the Presentation?
Usually, timeshare presentations follow a specific routine with little deviation from one case to the next. These sales techniques have been developed over years of practice, and they are very effective.
The broad strokes look as follows:
1. The Introductions
Once the resort or company has checked you in, they will send a representative your way, and for the next 2-3 hours, they will be your best friend. They will have a ton in common with you (Wait, you have a German Shepherd waiting for you at home? Well, they have two named Debbie and Laika).
If you haven’t noticed the sarcasm, what I am really trying to say is that not only is this representative a salesman who will do their best to get you to buy, but they will also try to build rapport with you by being nice and personable and by finding things in common with you, many of which could be invented on the spot.
You might choose to reciprocate the representative’s friendliness, but be careful about what information you share with them. When it’s time to sell, your new best friend will use every morsel of information at their disposal to close the deal.
If anything, it might be in your best interest to be clear from the get-go: If you have no interest in buying a timeshare, then let your representative know that upfront. Otherwise, you risk making the whole sales process harder for yourself, especially if your politeness is interpreted as genuine interest.
The timeshare company wants you to be in the best state of mind possible (for them), and alcohol is their friend. They will offer you refreshments before the presentation, including food and drinks. Some companies might present you with complimentary snacks, and others might go the distance and give you a full meal.
You shouldn’t let this excess hospitality get to your head and cause you to lower your defenses, especially if you already know that your answer is no.
3. The Presentation Begins
Now that you have been wined and dined, it is time for the sales process to start, beginning with a group presentation that will include you and other potential buyers. This presentation will be provided by an eloquent individual, someone who has done this hundreds of times before. They are going to wax lyrical, and you might be moved.
Although the presentation may vary from one company to another, the broad strokes are usually the same. Here are some of the main points that you will most likely encounter:
- The presenter will try to stir the audience’s emotions by talking about their dream trips while asking them what’s stopping them from taking those trips.
- Then they give you an answer: a timeshare could be the gateway to your dream trip, and it will cost you only a fraction of what you would have normally paid. (Of course, your presenter will forget to account for miscellaneous costs associated with a timeshare vacation, such as airfare and dining)
- Once they have you hooked and excited about how timeshares can lead you to the good life, the presenter will start discussing how their timeshare system works. This explanation will include vivid examples that will have you imagining all the possibilities.
- After all this, they might end things by offering you an incentive to sign with them on the spot.
Although the above represents what most timeshare presentations will look like, there will always be differences from one company to another. For example, rather than asking you about your dream vacation, the presenter might opt to tell you that you “should be kinder to yourself and treat yourself to more vacations and more luxurious trips.”
4. Giving You the Pitch
Once the presentation is over, your representative, i.e., your new yet temporary best friend, will lead you to a table where they will start laying out your options.
During this portion of the process, the representative is still trying to stoke your desire. They will show you different resorts in their company’s portfolio, they will break down how you can redeem your points if they are selling you a points-based timeshare system, and they will show you pictures of each resort, trying to get you all the more hyped up.
The one thing that your representative will not talk about at this stage is the program’s price. They don’t want to scare you off yet, so they will give you every reason to buy before discussing costs.
5. Taking You on a Tour of the Resort
As if everything up till now hasn’t been enough, the representative will give you a tour of the resort and its amenities. You will get to see the different types of rooms available, all the while imagining what it would be like to own a timeshare over there.
On this tour, you will see the best rooms the resort has to offer. The timeshare company will make sure to dial the luxury knob all the way up to 11. However, what you see will most likely not be what you get if you sign on.
6. Time to Talk About the Benjamins
Let’s recap what’s happened so far: You’ve been wined and dined. You’ve been told that it’s time to take your dream trip, and then you were shown what that trip can look like. You’ve even taken a tour of a resort, taking you one step closer to imagining yourself living a life of luxury.
By now, you should be in the perfect mental state to talk to your representative about how much all of this is going to cost you.
Just to be clear, the average cost of a timeshare is around $24,140. But you might hear numbers far higher than that.
While talking about the costs, the representative will try to push you to make a decision on the spot. And how hard they push you will depend on how interested you have seemed throughout the process thus far. So, for instance, if you seemed eager during the presentation or kept ooohing and aaahing during the tour, the representative will feel that with the right pressure, you might buckle and buy from them.
If you were clear from the get-go and told the representative that you have no intention of buying a timeshare, they are more likely to back off quickly.
7. Bringing in the Closer
If you stick to your guns and refuse to buy, the representative will bring in the heavy artillery: the closer.
Closers will be well-dressed and look the part. They will ask you about your reasons for refusing to purchase and try to “work with you” to overcome these objections.
And, if you still remain intransigent, the closer will start bringing out incentives, hoping to change your mind and get you to sign with them. The closer may offer you a special, one-time deal where you can buy the timeshare for half the price presented to you by the representative. Other possible incentives include loyalty points and free trips. You’ll be offered what sounds like an affordable financing package.
8. Losing a Friend
What happens if you still refuse to purchase, even after the Closer has offered you the best deal the resort can possibly muster?
Remember that representative who was your best friend just a minute ago? Well, yeah, they’re about to give you the cold shoulder. Why should they be your friend if you aren’t going to buy what they’re selling?
You shouldn’t be surprised if the representative suddenly loses all their warmth and friendliness. They work on commission, and their livelihoods are based on you making a purchase. So, part of this sudden reverse in attitude is a genuine disappointment, and the rest is just another sales tactic.
9. Giving You One Last Chance
As you are being shown your way out of the resort, the timeshare company will give you one last offer.
Usually, the representative checking you out, who might be different from your former best friend and now sworn enemy, will also be the one to offer you a deal even better than the one presented by the closer. They will try to pressure you into taking this deal.
If they also fail, they will just show you the door while providing you with all of the promised incentives for attending the timeshare presentation in the first place.
How to Survive a Timeshare Presentation: Say “No” and Do It Often
So what should you do to survive a timeshare presentation? The simple answer is that you should be saying “no” throughout the whole thing. Whether you want to buy a timeshare or not, you should not be buying from a timeshare company, especially when your emotions are running high.
Here’s why “no” is the sensible answer:
Timeshares Cost Way More Than Their Sticker Price Might Suggest
Even though your representative will quote you a steep price to own a timeshare, that’s barely scratching the surface.
For starters, you have to factor in annual fees, including rising maintenance fees, special one-time assessment fees, and taxes. And this is assuming that you have paid for the timeshare out of your own money. But if you have financed the purchase through the timeshare company, you also have to factor in the heavy interest rates the company will levy.
Additionally, just because you have a timeshare doesn’t mean your next vacation is done and paid for. You need to think about airfare, food, and other activities and events you want to participate in. All these things are going to cost you.
Over and above, you should take into consideration the opportunity cost of your timeshare. Your signature on the dotted line will preclude you from exploring other resorts and vacation spots that aren’t covered by your timeshare agreement. This will not only limit your ability to travel but will also likely cause you to feel trapped at some point in the future. After all, you might not be able to afford any more Airbnbs, no more hotels in European countries, and no more cross-country RV trips.
To top it all off, you need to be aware that the minute you buy a timeshare, its value plummets on the spot and is no longer worth the tens of thousands you just put into it. The secondhand market is flooded with people trying to get rid of their timeshares. The other, and bigger problem, is that a timeshare is not an investment, no matter how hard the salesman tries to convince you otherwise.
How to Survive a Timeshare Presentation: Even If You Want to Buy a Timeshare, Don’t Do It at the Presentation
Even if you have your heart set on buying a timeshare, don’t buy it directly from the timeshare company.
Go to the secondhand market, where you can almost always buy the same exact timeshare for a discount of 95% and up to 99%. There are countless individuals out there who feel strapped with their timeshare agreements and want to get rid of them but have a hard time doing so. So, they end up selling at an insane discount – or even giving the timeshare away – just to spare themselves the annual fees.
How Do You Say No and Commit to It?
You may plan to refuse every offer the timeshare company will throw your way, but you are up against professional manipulators. It doesn’t hurt to have a bag of tips and tricks to better help you resist the sales tactics you’ll face.
Use a Ulysses Contract
A Ulysses Contract is a clever but simple way to force yourself to stick to your goals. For instance, to lose weight, you can lock the cabinet filled with sweets and give the key to your significant other. This act of self-restriction is a form of a Ulysses contract.
Similarly, when attending a timeshare presentation, you can restrict yourself by not taking your checkbook with you. And even though most presentations will require that you have a credit card on hand, you can choose to attend with a card that has a limit far below the price of the timeshares you are about to see.
That way, you are limiting the options available to you and ensuring that no matter how emotionally excited you get, you cannot and, therefore, will not commit to something that you will regret later on.
💳 Learn more: For those using credit cards, this post offers 11 rules to ensure you’re using them wisely.
Be Distant Yet Upfront
We talked about the representative being your best friend. Well, the best thing you can do is be distant and boring.
Any information you provide can and will be used against you. So, if you mention that your kids are about to enter middle school, the representative might talk about how the vacation is for them and not for you. To sell you on the timeshare, the representative will highlight the importance of making memories before the kids are off to college and how you will regret not making the most of this time you have with them.
Alternatively, if you come across as distant and disinterested, the representative will figure out that they probably have no shot with you. So, they will quickly go through the motions and get you out of the door that much faster so they can move on to a better prospect.
Share as little personal information as possible. Don’t discuss your income or assets. You’re just giving the representative more ammunition for their sales pitch.
If you are upfront with the representative and let them know that you have no plans on buying a timeshare and are only there for the free gifts, they will be even less pushy with you.
Remember, the sales representative’s end goal is to make a sale. And if it is clear to them that you are a lost cause, they will try to move on to other prospects who seem more promising.
Arguing with a timeshare salesman is a futile effort that helps no one and keeps you at the sales pitch longer than necessary.
If your representative claims that a timeshare is an investment, just nod and smile. On second thought, just nod and don’t even smile.
Don’t bring up the secondhand market or anything else that could drag you into an unnecessary conversation. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t even ask questions.
The only thing you should do is to hold them to their own time limits. So, if they tell you that the entire sales pitch will last 90 minutes, then you should start your stopwatch the second they check you in. You can even stop your representative in the middle of their pitch and remind them that they have 25 minutes left on the clock.
Salespeople will try to wear you down by making the process much longer than the agreed time. Don’t let them get away with it.
Have a Game Plan
You don’t need to give the representative a reason when saying “no,” you should have a host of reasons prepared in the back of your mind. These reasons will strengthen your resolve and protect you when the representative starts tugging at your emotional strings.
Don’t share these reasons, as this would give the representative reason to believe that they could make the sale if they could just overcome your objections.
Another idea you can include in your game plan is to show up for the presentation when they are at their busiest. The busier they are, the more likely they are to finish your entire sales pitch faster so that they can move on to other, more likely buyers. They also won’t pressure you as much because they want to preserve their energy for other people walking into the resort.
I Bought a Timeshare, Now What?
Although you might be on your guard, you still might end up signing a contract. Perhaps you were a little tipsy and couldn’t keep your guard up.
Whatever the reason, you will most likely feel buyer’s remorse. After all, almost 85% of timeshare purchasers end up regretting their decision.
So, what can you do?
Canceling Your Timeshare
The good news is that the consumer protection laws are in your favor as they provide you with a “cooling off” period during which you can rescind your timeshare purchase. This “rescission period” ranges from 3 days to 15 days, depending on your state.
To rescind your timeshare purchase, you will need to carefully read the paperwork you signed, as it will contain the information you need. The process can be a bit complicated. That’s intentional: timeshare companies don’t want you to cancel on them. But if you follow the instructions and don’t give up, you will get your deposit back.
If the rescission period has expired, you face a much greater challenge, and you will have to do some serious research on how to avoid timeshare exit scams and how to get rid of an unwanted timeshare.
👉 Learn more: For those in the timeshare loop, here’s a post outlining some of the best exit companies in the market.
How to Survive a Timeshare Presentation: Putting It All Together
There might be benefits and perks to attending a timeshare presentation. It still doesn’t make any fiscal sense to sign a purchase agreement, especially as the secondhand market is much cheaper.
If you want to attend one of these presentations, then the secret to how to survive a timeshare presentation is you need to have no problem with saying “no” over and over again. You need to be comfortable with not sharing personal information or giving reasons for your refusal. And you need to know how to avoid letting your emotions drag you into a long-term financial commitment.
If all of this applies to you, then enjoy the free tickets, the discounted hotel rooms, and the other juicy incentives. But if none of this applies to you, then spare yourself the hassle and don’t attend the presentation in the first place.