Is Attending a Timeshare Presentation Worth It for Families?
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
We’ve probably all received an invitation to a timeshare presentation where we’d spend a few hours but get a free or inexpensive vacation out of the deal. Most of the time we say “no” because of the horror stories we’ve heard from people who have attended a similar event with aggressive sales tactics or with people that didn’t respect their time. Today’s parents have limited time to spend with their children while balancing work and household duties. Is attending a two-hour timeshare presentation to save a few bucks worth sacrificing time with the family — especially when you’re on vacation?
But some of these timeshare properties, many of which can also be booked with points, are pretty appealing. We’ll talk about the timeshare pitch and perks in a minute but let’s first look at some timeshare properties families may want to visit.
Top Timeshare Properties for Families
Here are a few examples of popular family-friendly timeshares, many of which are bookable on traditional hotel points. Elite members might receive an upgrade to a larger room when making a hotel reservation. And, another bonus of booking a timeshare-stye property usually ensures that you’ll get a one-, two- or even three-bedroom unit that will easily fit your family (and with washing machines!).
- Kidani Village, a Disney Vacation Club property at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas (Orlando, Florida): There are four savannas with more than 200 hoofed animals and birds roaming the resort. Although not part of a hotel loyalty program, points from Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard (not currently available to new applicants) can pay for your room. I found nightly rates in the $300s before tax. You can even “rent” Disney timeshare points from owners. Personally, I want to book a room here for my family just for the unique experiences with the animals.
- The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas* (Lahaina, Hawaii): Beautiful weather year-round and tropical landscapes make Hawaii a favorite for family travel. Cash prices start in the $500s, but rooms are only 50,000 Marriott points per night.
- Marriott’s Grande Vista* (Orlando, Florida): My family stayed here before and loved the pools and game rooms. My son really liked the towers and water cannons at the Plaza del Sol pool. Cash rates start at $183 per night or 35,000 Marriott points.
- Hilton Grand Vacations on the Las Vegas Strip* (Las Vegas, Nevada): While gambling is for adults, the shows and attractions are for visitors of all ages. Las Vegas is a popular family destination for food, fun, and shopping. Room rates are as low as 54,000 Hilton Honors points or $124 plus tax. The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card is a great way to earn points with a 125,000 welcome bonus after spending $2,000 in three months, and 6x points at US Restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations.
- Hyatt Residence Club Maui, Ka’anapali Beach: This property is right next to the Hyatt Regency Maui. The stretch of beach here is fantastic and the pool complexes are exactly what your family dreams about when thinking “Hawaiian vacation.” Use 30,000 World of Hyatt points. Cash prices for the one-, two- and three-bedroom units varies depending on the season but are clocking in just shy of $1,000 per night for a two bedroom and $1,089 for a three bedroom this summer. The World Of Hyatt Credit Card can help boost your Hyatt points balance.
- Westin Princeville Ocean Villas: The North Shore of Kauai is light on points hotels, but the Westin Princeville is an option on hotel points or for timeshare owners. Standard rooms are 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night and paid rates start at about $300+ per night. Larger suites are bookable for higher prices. Guests here get to enjoy the nearby beach at the Princeville Resort that is the perfect place to watch Hawaiian sunsets.
*For both Marriott and Hilton, loyalty members can redeem points and receive the fifth night free to increase their savings.
The Timeshare Offer
Spending points, however, isn’t the only way you can stay at these villa-style properties. Most of them canvas travelers to find some that will exchange their time to attend a presentation for a free or heavily discounted stay, cash or a combination of the two. In most cases, you’ll need to set aside at least two hours for the presentation.
The offer will vary based on which company’s presentation you attend. If you are actually interested in buying into a timeshare, do your research beforehand to understand the pros and cons of ownership and get a firm handle on pricing. The timeshare resell market can be a great way to save money if you do decide that ownership is right for you.
No matter what the offer is to attend a presentation may be, always negotiate when speaking with the representative. Remember that you’ll be giving up valuable vacation time with your family to sit through the timeshare presentation. He or she may have something extra to offer to close the deal.
Here is a timeshare offer we’ve seen recently:
Holiday Inn Vacations Club
While checking on my IHG Rewards Club account, the telephone agent discussed a Holiday Inn Vacations Club timeshare offer. For $199, my family and I would receive a four-day, three-night vacation in our choice of one of 14 destinations. The options included Orlando, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, the Great Smoky Mountains and other destinations.
Once we attended the presentation, we would receive the $199 back in cash plus a $100 discount certificate for a future Holiday Inn stay. I love a great deal, so I signed up to attend.
Some offers are a bit pricier, such as the $798 offer some receive to spend 5-nights at the Westin Princeville in Kauai, though that offer does include an Avis car rental. Or, at the Disney Aulani in Hawaii attending the sales presentation scores you two luau tickets (normally $139 each).
Our Stay in Gatlinburg
We booked our stay for Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains. We came to find out that the city is a great family destination filled with fun tourist attractions, delicious food and amazing nature hikes. (And don’t miss Dollywood, which is nearby.)
Cash Versus Points
If you’d like to stay at the timeshare resort, you can book rooms for less than $200 a night or 35,000 IHG Rewards Club points. The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is a great way to earn IHG Rewards points to pay for your stay.
The Holiday Inn Express Gatlinburg Downtown is located immediately next door and shares many of the benefits of the timeshare, including the indoor waterpark and pool. On many of the dates I checked, the rooms were very inexpensive when paying cash. You could book a room for 30,000 IHG points, but when the cash price is so low, I would opt for the cash rate or book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Attending the Timeshare Presentation
When you attend a timeshare presentation, remember that you’re sitting with trained sales professionals. Their job is to weave a story to create an emotional connection and get you to believe that timeshare ownership is better than staying in a hotel where you want, when you want and paying how you want (cash or points).
Most timeshare presentations say that you need to attend for 90 to 120 minutes. If you let them, they’ll keep you there as long as they can. If they’ve done their job correctly, they’ll try to find the emotional trigger that will get you to buy one of their packages before you leave.
Do Both Spouses Need to Attend the Presentation?
Timeshare purchases are a big commitment, so the salesperson wants to ensure that both spouses are there to sign off on the contract. If one spouse is not there, it is an easy excuse to say that “I need to speak with my spouse about this” to get out of the potentially high-pressure sales pitch.
Before I got married, many timeshare companies I spoke with would not book an appointment with me. Their sales presentation is designed around families and the memories you create while traveling.
Can Children Attend With You?
Timeshare companies know the children can be a distraction or an excuse to leave early during the sales presentation. Because of this, your children may not always be allowed to attend the timeshare presentation with you, though there are exceptions to this. For example, the Disney Vacation Club does a great job providing colors and such for kids to stay busy during the presentation. We have heard of children attending with other brands, too, such as Hyatt.
When we travel with our children, they usually go to the kids club while we speak with the sales representative. In most kids clubs there will be toys and video games for them to play with, drinks and snacks to enjoy, and television to watch.
With many vacations jam-packed with activities, the kids club can be a welcome breather for kids to relax and enjoy some free-style play.
After signing in at the front desk, you’ll watch a video with the other guests while your sales rep waits in another room. The video is designed to make you think about how you can travel with your family using the timeshare and what fond memories you will create. Timeshare members will talk about the places they travel with their ownership and how they love that the timeshare can be passed down to their children.
Once the video is finished, you’ll go to the sales rep’s table where he will ask questions about how you like to travel, where you want to go and how much you spend on vacation.
It always amazes them when we talk about how much we travel and how little we spend. Most of the sales reps that we’ve talked to do not understand the value of miles and points.
The Sales Pitch
The answers you provide help the sales rep craft the presentation and approach to get you to buy. The simple math works like this: You say that you travel a certain number of days each year and spend so much each night. They multiply this number by 40 years and compare your expected spend against the purchase of a timeshare.
The sales rep will tell you that it is better to buy a timeshare than rent hotel rooms. But what they often neglect to mention is that the timeshare locations aren’t always in the places you like to travel, popular resorts book up quickly, maintenance dues go up each year and you’ll pay the dues even when you don’t travel. Additionally, if you go through a phase where you need to tighten up on discretionary spending (such as travel), you can’t do that as easily if you owe set dues each year.
After you’ve listened patiently and politely declined their offer, a manager will come to the table. The manager will ask if the sale rep treated you well and take some notes.
At that point, he or she will probably offer you a trial package or maybe a discounted offer to return. A trial will let you try out the timeshare membership for one to two years by paying $1,000 to $3,000 to have a select group of properties to stay at. This package may lock in today’s prices in case you decide to buy in the future.
For many people, the trial or sampler package can be a good deal compared to cash prices for the same properties — points are sometimes even thrown into the deal.
At our Holiday Inn Vacations Club presentation, they offered us a future eight-day, seven-night stay for $1,499. We would be in a two-bedroom, two-bath unit similar to the one we toured earlier in the day. Although the rooms were attractive and the offer was tempting, we couldn’t see our family wanting to visit any of their locations for eight days.
Should You Say Yes?
Although my family owns a couple of timeshares that I bought in my 20s, I generally recommend against buying one today. With so many vacation options using hotel points, discount travel sites like Groupon and timeshare rental websites, it usually doesn’t make sense to lock yourself into a timeshare.
If you do decide that buying a timeshare is right for your family, understand that you can buy them significantly cheaper on the secondary market. Websites like eBay, Redweek and Tug2.net offer thousands of listings of people trying to sell timeshare memberships that they no longer use or cannot afford.
Alternatives to Buying a Timeshare
Of course, we’re all familiar with using hotel points when we travel. But did you know that you can rent timeshare units as well?
Many timeshare properties are available using hotel points. Others are available for rent on eBay and Endless Vacation Rentals.
Mommy Points recently rented Disney Vacation Club points from David’s Vacation Club Rentals for an awesome Walt Disney World getaway. Going this route allows you to enjoy all of the benefits of a timeshare vacation for a given trip without the upfront cost or responsibility of annual maintenance dues.
Booking a Cheap Spring Break Vacation
For example, if you wanted to travel to Orlando for 2020 Spring Break and stay at a timeshare property, you have many options. A one-bedroom villa at the Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas, Lake Buena Vista/Orlando is available from Endless Vacation Rentals for $161 per night (total of $1,125 for the week).
The same room is available directly from Marriott for $170 per night (total $1,190).
Marriott Bonvoy members can book a week in this room for 300,000 points. The nightly rate is 50,000 points per night, but the fifth night is free as a member benefit.
In my experience, the closer you get to the travel dates, the lower the prices will be on Endless Vacation Rentals because they need to sell the package before the dates pass. Of course, specific dates can sell out.
Is It Worth Your Time?
For our family, giving up two hours of our vacation to earn a big discount on travel expenses is a good trade-off. My wife and I have the strength to decline their best offers to buy, no matter how appealing they may sound in the moment. In our experience, when you attend a timeshare presentation with a well-known name, once you say “no,” they will (eventually) respect your decision.
Our family enjoyed a great four-day, three-night vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains for a net cost of $0 after attending the timeshare presentation. Plus, we now have a $100 certificate toward a future Holiday Inn hotel stay. Yes, we spent two hours of our time listening to a timeshare presentation, but it was worth it to have a free family vacation.
Have you attended a timeshare presentation to save money on a vacation? Was it worth it for the perks or will you never do it again?
Featured image by Summer Hull / The Points Guy
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