About ten years ago, on a trip to Las Vegas, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and her friends were stopped by one of the timeshare salesmen on the Strip. I was just out of college, they were in their last year, and so their offer of free show tickets for our group, in return for watching a timeshare presentation, was really enticing. Having never been to a timeshare presentation, I believed them when we were told it would only take an hour. In return, we’d get 10 tickets to a decent show, enough for our whole group. I was the only one with a job, which was crucial because that was part of the offer, so I had to go.
Fast forward to the timeshare presentation, which was for Polo Towers, and it was, as I’ve come to learn, standard fare. They talked about how timeshares worked, the amenities of the building, how you could trade weeks, the various fees, and that whole spiel. On the face of it, it seemed like a decent deal, albeit pricier than what we were used to staying at 2nd tier Vegas resorts. Ultimately, I knew that timeshares were not fantastic deals (if you want a timeshare, buy it on the secondary market) and so I passed.
The problem is that they keep passing you off to people and the promise of one hour ultimately became two and a half. They tried the soft sell, the hard sell, dropping the price, you name it. If there was a sales tactic to use, they used it. It was pretty Machiavellian if you ask me and it was pretty obvious they were racking their brains to try another tactic. In the end, they weren’t able to wear me out (I’m not the type to enter into a $30,000 agreement after an hour-long presentation!) and we got our tickets.
Was it worth it? In our case, no. We got 10 tickets and probably saved our group maybe $400-500? In college, that’s pretty awesome. Our own personal benefit as only $80-$100 – which meant Martha and I collectively were paid around $20-25 an hour to listen to a presentation. I’m not one to turn my nose down on $25 tax free but that’s when I’m at home with few alternatives. $25 an hour to do something I don’t really want to do is a horrible deal when I’m on vacation!
That said, there are timeshare presentations where you can get hotel stays, or stays on property, for a weekend in return for spending a few hours. I think those are entirely worth it. When I hear statistics that half of a timeshare’s sale price goes into marketing, I cringe at the thought of how cheap we were that weekend.
In the end, you have to calculate how much you benefit and estimate how long you’ll be stuck in the presentation and decide for yourself.