Free! Free! Free! In order to market or sell timeshare points or weeks, resorts offer "incentives" to entice tourists, guests of a resort, or timeshare owners to come and take a tour. To the owners of the resort, these promotions are called "marketing". To those receiving the offers, it may be a bribe or sales pitch. Either way, it can be to your benefit to accept these incentives for the amount of time you spend on a tour. Here's why...
Promotions Are Money in Your Pocket
Promotions are advertising. Rather than stick an ad into a local paper, resorts will hire promotion salespeople to reach out and bring in potential buyers. For example, in Mazatlan, Mexico, visitors were once offered a minimum of $300 to take tours of seven new resorts.
If you had taken advantage of the $300 offers, you could have earned up to $2,100 if you opted to join the tour every morning. Free breakfasts were also included, saving you some additional expense. Some of the breakfasts were lavish while others were just coffee and rolls - either way, you benefit. The free meal leaves a bit of extra money in your pocket and $2,100 would more than pay for a vacation for seven days.
Instead of ignoring these "offers", or thinking that a resort is going to "take advantage of" or do a high-pressure sell, you might actually like what you see on a tour and if you do decide to purchase, you will have a place you really like to visit when on vacation.
In some cases, the incentives will help pay for or allow you to do something special you could not otherwise afford. Mrs. John Grosso of Colorado used her promotion money to buy silver necklaces for her sisters for their birthdays. Jack Gregory of Georgia used the money to buy a straw hat that he could roll up and stick in his suitcase without worrying about crushing it. His wife, Jackie, bought herself two dresses, three shawls and a necklace in the El Central bazaar in Mazatlan. And a young man who wouldn't give this writer his name used his entire $300 to buy an extra piece of luggage to take home two bottles of tequila and canned potato chips to share with his fraternity brothers.
Remember, instead of feeling pressured to buy, all you have to do is say no, then stick to it! Say goodbye, collect your money and enjoy the time you spent learning about a resort into which you might exchange some time in the future.
Being Street Wise
Of course, you must be careful. If anyone asks for money or a credit card upfront, do not give it and walk away. These are scams and you should never give your credit card number or ID to anyone. Remember… if it is too good to be true, watch out. Typically, if approached on the street, be careful. If you agree to take a tour, do not give the "salesperson" your driver’s licenses or credit cards. If they say it is only to make sure you show up, still do not agree. All you have to do is say you will be at a certain place to be picked up and transported to the new resort then double check with your resort's concierge to make sure the new resort is not a scam. The hotels usually have a list of resorts that are selling timeshares and can provide some assurance that the resort offer is legitimate.
Typical tours include a breakfast or lunch and involve meeting a salesperson who will take you around the new resort and point out features. Be wary - if the resort is advertised as "new", make sure it is. Mold on the outside of the windows as you ride up in an elevator indicate that it is a refurbishment of an older building. Spaulding or "crumbling" concrete on the walls can also speak to the age of the building, as does rusted piping on the outside of the building.
Make note of these "defects" and at then end of the tour point them out to the salesperson. You probably will be politely ushered out and given the $300 with no objection or anger that you didn’t buy. While the salesperson may be upset that you didn’t purchase, you walk out with an extra $300 in your pocket. And after all…that should be the objective of you accepting a tour invitation. You are merely accepting an invitation and helping resorts use their advertising dollar as they designed.
Helen Sabin is a timeshare traveler and RedWeek member from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She and her husband attended seven tours in three weeks in Mazatlan Mexico and earned enough to pay for their vacation.