How to Turn a Timeshare Presentation Into a Super-Cheap Vacation

Family on vacation
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Have you ever received an offer for a “free” or uber-cheap getaway in the mail? Often, these deals promise to whisk you away to a mountain resort or fancy condo near a major city or theme park, with your accomodation either free or heavily discounted.

Unfortunately, there’s usually a catch: To qualify for one of these special promotions, you have to endure a 90+ minute “tour of the property.” In other words: The dreaded timeshare pitch.

Known for their high-pressure sales techniques and awkward moments, timeshare presentations sometimes push the limits as they try to coerce you into buying in.

Turn the Timeshare Game on Its Head

If you don’t want to actually buy into a timeshare, that’s completely acceptable. In fact, we recommend not buying in. Timeshares are often seen as a poor deal for consumers since they come with unpredictable annual maintenance fees. And worse yet, they’re often difficult, if not impossible, to sell. You can frequently find timeshares for sale on eBay for $1; if that doesn’t warn you to stay away, I don’t know what will.

Fortunately, you are under no obligation to buy a timeshare or invest in a property when you sign up for a timeshare vacation deal. And, if you want, you could easily turn one of these offers into a cheap family trip. Here are four tips to help you get the most “bang for your buck.”

Negotiate for the Best Perks Possible

Many timeshare presentations come with a set list of perks you receive in exchange for your time. Take these timeshare deals from Westgate Resorts—one of the biggest timeshare resort companies in the nation. Each offers a standard package with a specific number of nights, resort amenities, and travel credits depending on the destination.

These packages range from two nights in Orlando, Florida for $59 to seven nights in Orlando plus two tickets to Disney World for $399.

Other timeshare companies offer similar promotions, but they often throw in “extras” if you ask. I recently did a timeshare promotion with Holiday Inn Club Vacations and got them to throw in 10,000 IHG Rewards points in addition to my three-night stay.

You’ll never know what you can get unless you ask for it. The worst they can say is “no.”

Consider Other Travel Expenses

While scoring a few free hotel nights for a cheap rate can help you score a weekend getaway for cheap, don’t forget to budget for the other aspects of your trip. If you’re driving to your destination, you need to factor in the costs of gas and meals on-the-go. If you’re flying, figure out how much it will cost for airfare, airport parking, and snacks.

Either way, you’ll need to pay for meals and some activities for the duration of your trip. If you fail to account for these expenses, your “cheap” trip could turn into a money pit in a hurry.

Put Your Best “No” Face On

The goal of these timeshare companies is to lure you in, “wow” you with all their amenities, and get you to buy. Unfortunately, salespeople who work in the timeshare field are often ruthless when it comes to applying pressure and not taking “no” for an answer.

But, since they can’t make you buy, you can rest assured you’ll be able to leave without purchasing a timeshare or anything else. Your best bet is taking note of the amount of time you’re expected to sit in a presentation (usually 90 minutes to 2 hours), saying “no” as many times as required, and being prepared to walk out the door once your time is up.

It will be awkward, sure, but that’s all part of the game. If they get you excited about their product and make you feel a sense of urgency, they hope, you’ll be more inclined to buy.

Read the Fine Print

Last but not least, don’t forget to read the fine print before you agree to a timeshare presentation in exchange for a discounted getaway. If you scour the fine print on Westgate Resorts, for example, you’ll find that their deals are only available on limited dates and may not be available to book during peak travel times.

You can also find out exactly what is and isn’t covered in the price of your trip, including transportation to and from the resort, tickets to attractions, or resort credits. You can also learn whether they aim to upsell you on upgraded rooms, additional nights, or added benefits.

Finally, you’ll want to know exactly what is expected of you at the timeshare presentation, along with how long it will last. Sitting through a 90-minute spiel may be a requirement for this type of cheap getaway, but you should try not to endure the pain any longer than necessary.