Who doesn’t love the idea of getting a free vacation, an all-inclusive exotic destination, or luxury weekend at a resort you have always wanted to visit? The kind of incentives that timeshare presentation teams are willing to offer are lucrative and almost impossible to resist, for anyone regardless of income or budget.
Let’s face it, universally, we all enjoy the idea of getting something for nothing. And the average person who sits through a timeshare sales pitch also dislikes the idea of being accused of taking advantage of a free offer, without spending any money. Although the incentive was the whole reason they agreed to entertain the idea of buying a timeshare in the first place.
If it feels like a ‘head game’ of bait and switch; it is. And it’s one that allows the timeshare industry in the United States to rake in more than $30 billion dollars a year, from consumers who agree to walk into an aggressive sales pitch; an offer that they may not be able to decline.
How Do Timeshares Afford to Extend Free Vacation Offers?
It is important to understand that many resorts are merged with other timeshare organizations, with shareholders that make big money, anytime someone buys into a long-term lease for vacation time. However, these organizations aren’t paying 100% of the cost of your vacation; there is some discounting that occurs for the timeshare, as they engage in co-marketing programs with popular resorts and destinations.
For instance, a weekend at a five-star resort, including meals and accommodations, might cost a two people approximately $700 on average, depending on the amenities provided, if you were purchasing the package at retail value. However, the hospitality industry works on partnerships and agreements that significantly discount special offers. So, that mini-vacation may cost $700 if you were to buy it, but a timeshare may have paid as little as $150 for the opportunity to use it as ‘bait’ to get you to the sales presentation. And the resort offering the ‘free’ vacation? They get some low-cost advertising and promotion.
Why Consumers “Feel Bad” About Accepting a Free Offer Without Buying a Timeshare
The psychology of an incentive like a free vacation or cruise is powerful; you want that free vacation, and timeshare companies know it. And the rationale is simple for most consumers, who agree that sitting through two hours of a sales pitch is worth getting a free vacation. Consumers who are confident in their ability to say “no” and leave the meeting without ever breaking out their check book or credit card.
Unfortunately, the timeshare sales team is trained to overcome this mindset. Our team has sat through dozens of presentations to get a deeper understanding of the industry and how it works, and we know that while the incentive is discounted (see above), the sales team is motivated by high-commissions to make the consumer buy.
If the sales team has failed to convince the individual to buy a timeshare, the consumer can expect several negative responses, that can feel both like aggressive bullying to purchase, or guilt. Some of the statements used in typical timeshare sales scripts include:
“Why did you come here and waste our time, if you didn’t want a timeshare?”
“Do you think it’s fair for us to lose money giving you a free trip, if you didn’t sign a contract?”
“Anytime someone collects an incentive without buying a timeshare, that amount is deducted from my commission. Are you okay with that?”
For the average person, hearing those statements can be upsetting, and confusing. You didn’t ask to be invited to the timeshare presentation, and surely giving away some free incentives is part of the marketing budget for any timeshare, right? But they are trained to make you feel very personally accountable (like you are doing something wrong) if you choose to walk out the door without buying a timeshare, while still expecting to collect on your promised incentive.
Can You Still Collect the Offer If You Do Not Buy a Timeshare?
There are several consumer protection laws that pertain to advertising, that the timeshare company must abide buy. For instance, if any business promises a free incentive, including cash, free dinners or a free vacation, simply for sitting through a sales presentation, by law they are required to do so. If they have not provided some of the notorious fine print that they like to use to mislead consumers, such as “offer extended for qualified buyers only”.
Timeshares don’t like to lose money, and they are good at hiding that fine print at the sales presentation; if they told consumers that they would not get the incentive if they refused to buy, no one would show up, and they’d have no one to pitch the opportunity to.
This video is from an ABC News sting operation, where reporters posed as potential buyers who declined to purchase, but were determined to collect on their free incentive. We share what happened when they tried to collect on their free luxury vacation incentive.
We want consumers to know that they should never feel ‘bad’ or guilty about leaving a timeshare presentation without purchasing. Consumers should also be aware that collecting on that free incentive that was promised, may be much more difficult than they anticipate. Read the fine print about the special offer and eligibility, and if it complies with U.S. advertising laws, there should be “no purchase necessary” required to either enter to win the trip (if offered in a contest form) or to collect a travel voucher and enjoy your free incentive.
The law is on your side, when it comes to promised gifts or rewards. And there is no reason to ever feel awkward about collecting an incentive that was promised to you, after you leave the timeshare presentation (whether you buy one, or not).