One fine afternoon at the local mall, my husband and I were approached by a man who opened up a conversation with: “How would you like a free vacation?” And just like that we were hooked into a trip we had never planned for.
For just $150 we were given two nights in a four-star resort, a fifty-dollar visa gift card and a four-day cruise. All we had to do was sit through a two-hour sales presentation and tour. It seemed easy, but everyone knows that these are high-pressure sales presentations.
We booked our hotel reservation in Las Vegas, as it was the only place available for the dates we wanted. This was fine for us, because we live just a few hours from there, and a weekend away with our two young children was a welcomed break. At the time it seemed reasonable, but later we learned that some of the best sales people are in Las Vegas. As a result, they send as many people there as they can. Before we left, my husband and I vowed to just say no to timeshare, regardless of what the offer was. Just to be on the safe side, we spent a couple hours just saying no to each other for practice. Besides, we were bringing our two young children to the presentation, and they never let us sit long enough to eat a meal much less sit through a two-hour presentation.
We arrived at the nice resort early in the afternoon on a Thursday. During the brief check-in, they reminded us that we had to go to our presentation at 12 o’clock the next day. Our room was perfect for the four of us. It also included a small kitchen, which meant we could save some money by preparing our own food. Overall, a comfortable place to stay for two days. They did offer us an upgrade to a bigger room for just $50, but we declined and we were glad to save the money and stay with the basic. Because we arrived early, we also had time to head out to the Strip—nothing like a brisk walk amid the lights and noise to make us feel like our real vacation had begun.
However, it didn’t take long until we were being bombarded by marketers with offers of free gifts, if we just give them two hours of our time for a sales presentation at a time share. At first we refused. After all, we were already planning to attend one, and so why would we want to subject ourselves to more? Then, we met a man that would change this vacation forever. In just 15 minutes, he provided us with all the skills we needed to get more out of attending the presentations, how to make the presentations last less than an hour, and how to get the most freebies from them. He used to be a timeshare sales manager and knew all the ins and outs of the business.
His first tip for us was to talk to several different time share vendors, in order to see who gave the best offers. These guys don’t actually make money if you buy, they just make money on getting you to the sales presentation and will give you anything they can to get you there. Two: book as many as you can in one day, if possible, that way only one day of your vacation is spent on the actual sales presentation. Three: only book the ones that offer you a meal of some kind. It’s not just for the free food, but to give you something to do while they run through the mandatory sales presentation. Four: don’t be afraid to fake a cold or hangover. Five: when asked if you’re interested, just look them in the eye and say “Let me be honest, I’m only here for the free gifts.” Then hold your head up high and don’t fall prey to their last ditch efforts to get you to buy a timeshare (trust me the deals get better). Six: if you do become weak and buy a timeshare, remember you get three days to cancel the deal—that’s the law.
Armed with these tips, we decided to give them a try and see how much more we could get for our short trip. After all, we already felt like one day was being wasted on a sales presentation. Before the evening was up, we booked two more sales presentations, one breakfast and one dinner. We went back to our room early that evening to let the kids enjoy the pool, but we got them to bed early so that they would be awake and wild for our next day. We figured if everything else failed, our kids were our way out. They can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time, let alone for two hours of boring sales presentations.
I only have one thing to say this all those tips: they worked incredibly well. We made it to all three presentations, not one of them lasted more than an hour, and we were always the first group to leave. We only had to go on one real tour, the other two had given up by the time we had finished our food. By the third presentation, we felt like pros at saying no, we never even had to use the kids as a reason not to buy. Being upfront and honest was really the best way. We were there just for the free gifts, we were not in anyway interested in buying a timeshare, and, no, there was no deal they could have given me that would have made me change my mind. The food was just okay, but good enough to fill us up. Considering that the average person spends $70 a day on food in Vegas, we felt like a day of free eating was worth the $140 it saved us. We were done with all three presentations by about 5 pm, which gave us plenty of time to spend the evening out on the Strip with our children. As for the kids, they were surprisingly good for all of the presentations. They got lots of pictures to color, cookies to eat and juice to drink, and they got a lot of attention from everyone who went back to talk and play with them; so it was just a day of fun for them.
What did we get for our three hours of time? At the first presentation, we left with two show tickets worth $140, two dinner tickets worth $50, two buffet vouchers worth $70, two tickets to any attraction in Vegas worth $40.00 and $16.00 in cash. At the second presentation, we received the two nights at the resort, a 5-day cruise and a fifty-dollar visa gift card (total value $1040.00). We left the third presentation with one more night in Vegas and used it towards a third night on our trip (value: $150.00 and $125.00 in cash). The total worth for these three packages in free gifts was $1631.00, not bad for just saying no for three hours.
The next two days were great, and we had no problems using up all of our free gifts. We went to see shows and attractions, stayed in a four-star resort and ate like kings and queens—we felt as if were living the high-life. We were so glad we had done this once the trip was over. I admit that, at first, we were afraid of this whole time share business, but we had so much fun on our (almost) free vacation that we are thinking about doing it again soon.