How do timeshare presentations work?

Timeshare presentations can be a nightmare.

Many of our readers asked us to give them insight into how timeshare sales presentations work. The reason it is so fascinating is that many people bought their timeshare when they originally had every intention of saying 'no' and then went on to regret the purchase. Inside this post, I will cover the basics of timeshare presentations and how to avoid falling victim to timeshare sales tricks.

Remember: The best method to get out of a timeshare is to never buy one.

In-House Presentations (Owners)

These presentations are more deceptive in nature, have tougher salespeople, and are the bane of existence for 99.99% of timeshare owners. These presentations have a very obvious sequence of events that go something like this -

Upon checking into the resort you will be made to get a parking pass and will get pitched by the 'concierge' that some MAJOR changes are happening and that you need to get the deets...and as a token of the company's appreciation for taking the time, you'll get some sort of free gift.

The timeshare owners show up to the presentation and go through a fluffy presentation that lasts about 15 minutes and loosens them up. Although the content is not new, the presenter is likable and slightly funny and has the sole job of opening up the guests to ensure they will be somewhat receptive during the hard sell.

Next, you're moved into a little cubicle that has a slick salesman who is wearing a $20,000 watch and has pants that look like he bought them from Baby Gap. He then asks you questions about your timeshare - what you like, what you would change, and some other softball questions.

The biggest turn of events is that at some point during the first 15 minutes together the salesman will throw out a 'hook' which is a statement or question that is designed to grab your attention.

If you take the bait, you'll now be in for the pitch where he tells you all the money you could have saved, or all the resorts you could have visited. The reality is that almost all of what you hear is highly inaccurate (if not completely false). You start to feel like you're being sold to so the rep says "don't worry you won't have to make a decision today" and "I am going to give you an option to take with you."

Then they show you what's referred to as a "puke sheet" or a proposal that's designed to be so expensive that you throw out all the objections to buying it. This way the salesman knows the pressure points to overcome for the next phase > the takeaway.

Without the Takeaway no timeshare owners would ever buy. This is when he will bring in a manager or authority figure (known as a TO for Turn Over as in turn over the table). The TO or Mr. Big will ask you "why didn't you do it when you could have? Why did you decline it?" This past tense option would have resolved all your problems. He or She may ask you to write a letter to ask for your option to be reinstated. This is all a game meant to get you into a fear of loss mindset - you cannot say no to an offer that isn't available after all.

Non-Owner Presentations (aka Frontline Sales)

These sales presentations are mostly emotional sales and are usually less deceptive. These presentations have a very structured script and agenda -

These events are marketed through discounted trips (warning - you'll usually end up staying at a roach-infested hotel vs. what you were promised), ticket booths at major tourist areas, and sometimes through referrals from friends or family who own with the timeshare company.

The time commitment is roughly 120 minutes for most major timeshare companies and consists of a group presentation, a property tour, and lots of cheesy emotional stories about how vacations are super important.

The basis of the pitch is that it's cheaper to own your vacation instead of renting. This couldn't be further from the truth. When you calculate the upfront cost to buy a timeshare from a developer (Resale Timeshare is a different story) and the added carrying cost of maintenance fees (Check out our Timeshare Maintenance Fee Calculator) the math is absurd. Plus the bigger consideration > you don't have to travel if you're financially unable one year or if something else comes up.

Timeshare Lies and Deception

One common thing about timeshare sales is that the sales practices are at best deceptive and at their worst - fraudulent. Here are the ways salespeople bend the truth, lie, or omit facts to deceive you into buying.

Timeshare Usage: This typically happens in non-owner presentations. Sales reps will misrepresent how many points you will need to stay at their resorts. They will hide their timeshare club reservation booklet at all costs.

Timeshare Rental: The main objection salesman get from non-owners and timeshare owners is that no one wants to pay maintenance fees. The salespeople get trained day in and out on how to overcome that one major objection. The easiest way for them to overcome this objection is by suggesting you rent your timeshare. They will lead you down a garden path of greed and illusory dreams you can make money with your timeshare. While there are a few folks out there who know how to win at the timeshare rental game, you must have a tremendous knowledge of your timeshare developer's reservation system to have any chance at making money with renting your timeshare.

Timeshare Refinance: Another major objection salespeople get is that the interest rates are insane when prospective buyers look at the financing options from the timeshare developer. Naturally, no one wants to pay double-digit interest rates for anything, much less purchase in the tens of thousands of dollars range. Don't fall for it. You have a very slim chance that you'll be able to refinance the timeshare and can only do with limitations (read more about refinancing a timeshare).

False Sense of Urgency: These are lies that you won't be able to purchase the timeshare or points in the future for the price they are today. Sometimes taken one step further - you will be told that you missed out on an opportunity to buy the timeshare/points in the past for much cheaper.

I hope this has helped you prepare for your next timeshare sales presentation. Although I really hope you'll use your time for something way better ✌️.

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