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Timeshare and First Contact for Most People

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Hobbies
People attending timeshare presentations fall into two broad categories - those attending with intent of walking or riding away with the big prize and those with the intention of considering a timeshare offer. Whether you are interested in purchasing a timeshare unit, bound on just winning the big prize, or just tire-kicking, go into it with an open mind - you might be pleasantly surprised.

Often, the first exposure we receive to timeshare ownership comes from filling out a coupon to win a vehicle or receive a cheap or free vacation in the sun or at a ski resort. For some this happens at fairs, in restaurants or at car dealerships. For others first contact is through a (not-so-well-timed) phone call interrupting dinner and offering a free or inexpensive short hotel stay in exchange for a couple of hours of your time. Occasionally, some well-meaning or profit-motivated relative, friend or associate will give out your co-ordinates. On vacation in Mexico, it is not unusual to be stopped in the street of a coastal vacation city and offered a free day of island hopping on board a boat, with stops for horseback riding, meals and a "happy hour" in exchange for foregoing some time in the sun for a presentation.

As long as you understand that accepting these offers can be the prelude to several hours (they usually tell you two hours - take that with a grain of salt) of presentations - slide and/or film shows, discussions, property-viewing and - in some rare cases - browbeating, there is a benefit versus detriment ratio to look at. You need to weigh the benefits of initiating the process required to receive the offer/prize against the cost in travel to and from the presentation site, time in the presentation and negotiation.

Even if you intend to turn down the offer (you only want to try for the prize!) the timeshare salespeople are trained in the best ways to turn your NO into a YES. In most instances, the salesperson will bring in a more senior person (usually the sales manager) either to use their superior persuasion skills, use psychology skills on you, try a different personality type, exercise fluency in making deals, fast-talking or merely utilize their ability to sweeten the offer.

It may seem surprising that so many people with absolutely no intention of purchasing a timeshare property end up walking away the owners of an annual week of tropical heaven or cool skiing. But then, perhaps it shouldn't be that surprising. The salespeople are usually chosen to be compatible with or complementary to the average timeshare client - they aspire to create a climate conducive to making a sale.

Usually there's a meal provided at the presentation - more dangerous to the negative attendee perhaps being the champagne breakfast. Those little bubbles tickling the nose will often loosen the tighter pocketbooks and wallets. And what better than a good meal to move the prospective timeshare property owner into timeshare convert. It's a poor salesperson that does not make a non-buyer feel badly for failing them! Few timeshare salespeople starve - the sales manager can often provide the addition purchase incentive - and there's usually a free meal available until the timeshare seller gets consistent good results.

Where does the money come from to pay for the prize SUV, vacation dollars, delicious meal or tickets to Sea World? Well, obviously the timeshare company needs a marketing budget. This is derived from the eventual profits to be made from each sale. Actually, it's the timeshare purchasers who pay for both successful and unsuccessful sales efforts. So, if you actually intend to purchase you should hold out for the best deal possible.

This means don't accept the first, or the second, or even the third offer you hear from the timeshare sales team. Invoke every opportunity to have them make you a better offer. Don't worry, as long as you are in some kind of negotiation - even if it looks like you are very negative on the value of the deal - there is someone on site who can improve the offer in some way. This can go on until the sales manager is reluctantly closing your car door for you after spending 4 or 5 hours of hard bargaining.

THIS IS THE POINT AT WHICH YOU SHOULD CONSIDER ACCEPTING THE LAST DEAL BUT WITH ONE MORE UPGRADE.

You have outstayed most all of the presentation attendees, the salespeople want to go home, and you have heard pretty much all the offers they have to make. The sales team is ready to go as far as they have ever gone before - maybe farther. Make your last pitch to hear their best and final offer - that last one-week stay in Atlantis in the Bahamas or that vacation certificate that can be used every year, which the sales manager was going to use to take his significant other for a sun-and-sea-filled week as a surprise.

Don't forget that whatever you negotiate at this point will be your initial cost of accommodation, will decide how many free weeks you receive over the first one to three years of timeshare ownership, and will provide you with lots of future flexibility regarding timeshare weeks and/or timeshare points. So a few hours spent in negotiation is potentially worth many hundreds of hours of enjoyment and thousands of dollars to you.