Would you trade your time for a fantastic deal on a resort?

That’s exactly what millions of people do every year. You can expect 7 percent of rooms in a resort to be occupied by guests staying at the property solely for marketing purposes. In other words, they booked a deal or received some other incentive for agreeing to attend a timeshare sales presentation. Some say it’s worth the hassle of a sales presentation. Some go and say “never again.” 

You can do it, too, but having an insider walk you through it is going to save you a massive headache. Knowing the behind-the-scenes tricks can help you stay above it all. 

Having worked in the timeshare industry, I’m here to give you all the secrets: how to get deals, what to expect from a timeshare sales presentation, what’s going on behind the scenes, and how to stay sane when you’re pressured into buying one. 

What Happens at a Timeshare Sales Presentation?

Resort in front of the ocean with a cruise ship in the background

If you’re expecting a slimy, car salesman-like experience, you’ll be surprised to find it is typically nothing like that. In fact, the welcoming atmosphere is a strategy to help you say yes. Often, there will be treats. Everything they do is leading you to say yes. 

Sales presentations are often called “tours” and you’ll be assigned a salesperson for the duration of the presentation. There’s a process that the salesperson must follow and you’re probably being watched carefully. You wouldn’t think this, but the salesperson is typically following a script for the sales presentation. Questions will be phrased to get “yes” answers from you. 

You’ll typically follow a format that goes something like this:

  • Enter the sales office with your “no” face on, arms crossed
  • Greet and visit with your assigned salesperson 
  • Laugh, let your guard down
  • Dream about your future vacations
  • Learn about the company and program
  • Get your first offer
  • Talk to a sales manager 
  • Get lower numbers
  • Get emotional 
  • Say no
  • Feel guilt
  • Get even lower numbers
  • Close the sale or get to your final no
  • Collect your incentive gifts

Plan for two hours, especially if you’re in a group. 

It is quite a process and there’s a reason people don’t do it all the time. It can be emotionally draining for everyone. You’ll want some in-depth knowledge and a few strategies to get through it.

Related: 18 Beach Houses Still Available to Rent for Summer 2021

Strategies to Get Through a Timeshare Sales Presentation

Know your numbers. Know what price the timeshare is selling for on the timeshare resale marketplace. The hosts will tell you there are specific benefits that cannot be passed from one owner to another on the timeshare resale marketplace, but much of that is untrue. Knowing the resale cost can help you say no, but if you’re truly interested, it can also help you get the lowest price possible on your timeshare. 

The Math

The salesperson will likely use some version of the following logic to show you how buying a timeshare will make sense for your finances:

Salesperson: “How much do you spend on vacations every year?”

You: “About $4,000.” 

S: If you spend $4,000 per year for the next 25 years, you’ll have spent $100,000. Is this true?

Y: “Yes”

S: So, buying ownership in this property for $25,000 will save you around $75,000 over the next 25 years. 

It doesn’t go that fast, but that’s essentially what it boils down to after an hour and a half. (Keep in mind the math they use won’t work out how they say it will.)

Know you can always come back and buy later. There’s often some “deal” for saying yes right away to pressure you to make a decision that afternoon, but the truth is, you can always come back. Even though your timeshare salesperson will say it’s a limited time deal, I promise, you can always come back and buy the timeshare later. Knowing this can take the pressure off. 

Break up the flow of the presentation. Tell (don’t ask) the salesperson you need to go to the restroom. There are a lot of subconscious tricks being used on you to get to yes. Interrupting the flow of that is going to help you feel better. 

You don’t have to defer to the expertise of the closer. A closer is typically a manager who can offer additional incentives, answer questions, and in general, offer “authority” to the brand in some way. They typically know their industry inside and out and can battle every objection you have. They’ll offer information and numbers that are very convincing. Don’t fall for it. 

Always be polite. Ask a few questions, but don’t act overly interested in what they’re selling. You’ll get through the presentation a lot faster if you don’t ask too many questions. You’ll also get off the hook a lot faster if you are very kind. 

Make it easy for them to let you go. I suggest being as kind as possible. This flies in the face of every piece of advice you’ve ever heard about timeshare presentations, but I guarantee it will work much better. Let them try their hardest and respect their efforts. But in the end, it’s your money. If you’re kind while sticking to your guns, you can part on good terms.

Related: The 14 Best Vacation Rental Sites for Travelers in 2021

What Kind of Deals Can You Get from Attending a Timeshare Presentation?

Here’s a quick sample of publicly available offers right now (June 2021). 

  • Westgate Resorts: $259 for an Orlando Disney vacation for 3 days and 2 nights including tickets.
  • Hyatt Residences: $299 for three nights in Sedona, $100 in resort credit, and 10,000 World of Hyatt points
  • Marriott Vacation Club: $799 for five nights at the Kauai Beach Club
  • Club Wyndham: $199 for three nights in Myrtle Beach

You can also receive targeted offers that are even better than these.  

How Can You Get These Timeshare Deals?

If you want in on these deals, you’ll want to give the timeshare marketing department your information. You can:

  1. Sign up to receive marketing materials directly on the website of the timeshare program (e.g., Marriott Vacation Club, not Marriott). There’s typically a button called “Learn more” where you can get more information about the program...and be offered timeshare deals. 
  2. Check out deals listed on the website of the timeshare program. As you can imagine, there has been a pause on these presentations during the pandemic, but they’ll heat up soon and you should be seeing more of these offers shortly. 
  3. Sign up for the loyalty program of a major hotel chain (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc.) and agree to receive their marketing materials. You’ll receive targeted offers from their vacation club branch that are typically better than those publicly available online. 
  4. Call the number listed on the timeshare website. This is likely going to be the marketing division who may be able to get you what you want. By calling the Marriott Vacation Club, for example, I was able to find excellent deals in Hawaii that weren’t advertised. 
  5. Call up the resort directly. You can be upfront about what you want and they’ll try their best to help you. You can say something like this: “My friend got an offer to stay in this resort from the sales department and I wondered if I could do the same?” Kindness truly does pave the road to hidden gems. (But sometimes you just have to accept that the answer is no, too.)
  6. Check your junk mail. An offer my husband received from Westin Cancun was there—and these are some of the best offers out there! 
  7. Book directly with the resort (sans promotion), then schedule a time to attend a presentation once you arrive. You’ll be paying full price, but you may be offered an incentive for attending the presentation that’s worthwhile. You can call ahead of time and ask what these incentives are. 
  8. Frequently stay at the chain of hotels you want to get a timeshare deal for. If you want a deal on the Westin Kaanapali in Maui, stay at Westin Hotels during your stateside travels. Opt in to their marketing materials.

It’s also helpful to know there are often different levels of incentives (or gifts) the marketing department can offer you to attend one of their sales presentations. You may be able to sweeten the deal simply by asking what other incentives are available. 

Bonus: after searching Google for timeshare deals, you’ll start seeing them show up in your social media ads.  

Related: The 12 Best Hotel Booking Sites

Who Has These Timeshare Deals? Where Can I Find Them? 

Every major hotel chain has a branch of vacation ownership you can buy. There’s a comprehensive list here on Redweek.com, but we’ve also included some of the major players below. Keep in mind the offers change frequently, especially as pandemic conditions change, so calling the number listed on the website can help you find out what’s available. 

  • Marriott Vacation Club Currently, you can attend a virtual sales presentation and earn 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, but you can also find deals by calling the number listed on their website. After calling the number, I found offers for five nights at the Kauai Beach Club for $799 or four nights at the Newport Coast Villas for $299 (nice!).
  • Vistana. Vistana takes care of timeshare sales for the Westin Vacation Club, the Sheraton Vacation Club, Vistana Beach Club, and the Harborside Resort at Atlantis. Travelers get excited about offers to luxe resorts in Cancun and Hawaii for super low prices. If you want to receive marketing from them, you can put your name on the list here. Vistana did inform me that the offers consumers receive are random. Consumers are also not able to change from one property or deal to another.
  • Club Wyndham, Worldmark by Wyndham, Shell Vacations Club, Margaritaville Vacations Club. Club Wyndham uses a points-based system for a wide variety of locations. It is the largest program with over 867,000 members. Deals are listed on the websites. 
  • Hilton Grand Vacations is currently offering timeshare deals to Orlando and Las Vegas. 
  • Disney Vacation Club. As of June 2021, Disney isn’t offering any incentives to attend their sales presentation. They have offered gift cards and fast passes in the past, so if you’re interested in Disney vacations, you’ll want to call to see what offers they have.
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations. You can take a look at vacation deals here, which can cost as little as $149 for three nights in Orlando, Scottsdale, Branson, Williamsburg, and more. You may also want to try calling the number to see if the marketing department can sweeten the deal for you.
  • Bluegreen Vacations. There are currently offers for 12 locations.
  • Westgate Resorts has offers for Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Williamsburg, Gatlinburg, and Las Vegas listed right on the website. 
  • Diamond Resorts. Deals range from $149 in Las Vegas for four nights to $599 in Hawaii for 7 nights. 
  • Hyatt Residence Club. Hyatt has offers listed directly on their website, including stays in Sedona, Key West, San Antonio, and the Gulf Coast of Florida.
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