Last week I had the opportunity with my girlfriend to be propositioned for a timeshare purchase. If you’re not familiar, in areas where tourism thrives, a number of solicitors will be stationed in shops or hotel lobbies with pitches on how you can get X gift if you listen to a 90 minute ‘talk’ about their vacation offer. In the case of my girlfriend and I, we were offered a $100 Visa gift card for attending. The location for us was Tahoe (south shore) and the property was a former Embassy Suites resort that Diamond Resorts International had recently purchased. The property is under renovation and will be completely finished in a couple months (August).
In short, the 90 minute presentation was actually 4 hours and 45 minutes (285 minutes). The initial sales person offered us about 4 different sales packages. None of these interested us. I told them that through sites like VRBO and Hotwire I could find vacation rentals and hotel rooms at comparable rates or lower rates. They didn’t take my rational too well and more or less scoffed at the thought. That’s fine, their job is to sell a product, so they need to stand behind it.
After I told them no, then a much more pleasant sales person came over did some closing paper work and threw out one last offer. The offer wasn’t for a timeshare purchase. It was for a 18-month introductory sampler package. The package included a much larger number of points than what was previously discussed and the points were at a much lower cost per point, too. The catch was that it was limited in terms of time (18 months) and the properties you have access to. The selection of properties, given our travel desires in the next 18 months was actually pretty good.
We initially signed on for the deal (We have since canceled…see below for more information). Afterwards I did some comparison shopping to see if I could beat the package and, if I could, by how much. Below are a few tables that illustrate the original offer with the places we thought we’d visit and how the cost measured up with my comparison shopping using Hotwire and VRBO.
The ‘Sampler Package” deal.
Diamond Resort Travel Breakdown
Note – As you see, the total point amount to pull off the travel arrangement goes over the 15,000 by 500 points. For sake of this analysis, I’m going to assume the total of $2,795 stays as is and 15,000 would suffice.
Hotwire.com Travel Breakdown
Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO.com) Analysis
In the end, when you put Diamond’s promotional sampler package up against competitive travel sources they cannot compete. The power of communication (the Internet) has opened up avenues that simply did not exist before in terms of hotels and especially vacation property rentals. As you can see from above, a little bit of shopping around can easily shave off upwards of 30% from what Diamond had to offer. (I did the comparison in less than 1 hour.)
In terms of cancellation, the policy included a 7 day period in which you can receive a full refund if you either mail or fax a cancellation request to the company.
On a final note, if you are ever in the market for buying a timeshare, please consider the future value of your money that you’re going to put down for the ‘share’. The lowest offer we received was $11,000 to buy in. If you took that $11,000 and assumed you were to earn an average of 8% annually for the next 30 years, you would end up with nearly $110,700. That’s your opportunity cost! That alone should make you pause. Then add the fact that you’re paying an annual maintenance fee per year.
What I’ve said above isn’t an indictment against timeshares. It’s just a few points to consider, if you’re ever presented with a sales pitch that is focused on grabbing a serious chunk of cash out of your wallet.
For the record, we ended up getting $150, not $100, for our time listening to their sales talk. For the amount of time spent, we should have received more like $300.