(BPT) - If you're a frequent traveler to popular vacation hotspots like Orlando or Las Vegas there’s a good chance you’ve been approached by someone and asked to attend a timeshare sales pitch, often in exchange for a heavily discounted vacation or free tickets to a show or theme park.
And while you may not dread a timeshare sales presentation, you can probably think of other ways you'd rather spend your limited vacation time.
Timeshare sales presentations are designed to better understand travelers’ vacation preferences and to show off the resorts where they’ll stay if they decide to become owners. And while the sales presentation is generally straightforward, it’s understandable to be apprehensive about the experience.
Here’s what to expect during a timeshare sales presentation and four steps to prepare for the experience.
1. Deal with a reputable company.
Yes, timeshares have a certain reputation, but much of it is based on outdated stereotypes. There are a number of highly reputable timeshare companies like Hilton Grand Vacations, which are associated with major hotel brands that have earned consumers’ trust over decades. That said, just as in any industry, there are some unscrupulous operators.
Before agreeing to sit through a timeshare sales pitch or accepting a discounted trip, make sure the company is on the up and up. Check for complaints at state Attorney General office websites or consumer protection bureaus.
Be aware that if you accept a discounted trip, you need to attend the sales presentation. If you don't, you could be on the hook for the full cost of the trip.
2. Go in with an open mind.
If the company’s goal is to get you interested in buying a timeshare, it’s in their best interest to make the presentation a good experience for you. Expect the sales representative to start by asking you lots of questions about how you like to travel, where you like to go and who usually travels with you. Those answers will help them customize the presentation to you.
Think of it like house shopping — and you are, kind of. A good real estate agent won't show you a one-bedroom apartment in the city if you're looking for a farmhouse. A good timeshare sales representative will tailor the sales presentation to meet your specific interests.
“We want our guests to enjoy themselves and feel great about the experience. After all, we’re rooted in hospitality,” said Derek DeSalvia, senior vice president, Hilton Grand Vacations, a timeshare company. “Of course, we want people who attend our presentations to become Hilton Grand Vacations owners, but only if it fits their lifestyle and is something they’re excited about. We have more than 325,000 owners and growing around the world. The only way that happens is by having satisfied customers.”
3. Do your homework – including the math.
You wouldn't walk into a car dealership and buy a car after talking to the sales guy for an hour. It's too big of a purchase to do that. The same is true for a timeshare. The best time to do your research into how timeshares work is before the visit. Does it make sense financially and based on the vacation lifestyle you want?
By the time you show up to the sales presentation, it's more like the test drive. You already have a sense of the features and benefits; now you just want to see the paint color. Get answers to any lingering questions you have to ensure you feel good about whatever decision you make.
Questions to consider include:
- What kind of vacations can I reasonably expect to take?
- Is vacation ownership affordable for me?
- What are the financial responsibilities of vacation ownership?
- What do my maintenance fees and dues pay for?
- Do I need financing to enjoy vacation ownership?
- What happens if I change my mind?
4. Don't feel pressured.
Just because you agreed to attend a sales presentation to see if you might be interested in buying a timeshare, don’t feel pressured. If you’ve already checked out the company’s reputation, done your homework and done the math, and decided that a timeshare fits your lifestyle, you may be ready to buy. If you need more time, that’s OK, too.