How I Earned 30,000 Points in an Hour — Reader Success Story
Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Kevin, who attended a lucrative timeshare presentation in Lake Tahoe:
In November, I booked a two-bedroom villa at Marriott's Timber Lodge in South Lake Tahoe for me, my wife, my mom and her boyfriend for a ski trip. The Timber Lodge is part of Marriott's Vacation Club brand, more commonly known as their timeshare properties. It being a timeshare, I knew someone would try to sell us on buying in at some point during the stay. I had already decided to refuse any sales presentation that was offered to me.
Sure enough, as soon as I checked in, the concierge told me they had an exciting portfolio of new timeshare properties, and they would love to show them to us. Sticking to my guns, I said I wouldn't have time during the trip. He then said it would take no more than one hour with no pressure, and they would offer me 30,000 points regardless of whether I buy into the timeshare. If I invited other families to join the presentation, they would be awarded 15,000 points. Being a sucker for points, I gave in and agreed, and convinced my mom to join too so she could get 15,000 points.
The presentation and sales pitch took just over one hour, and we politely refused. The salesman did not pressure us or get mad, and at the end he had us sign a receipt to acknowledge we attended the presentation and would be getting our points. At that point I considered earning 30,000 points for one hour in a timeshare presentation to already be a success. However, I got another surprise offer.
The salesman said we could have more time to think about it and told us about a program called Encore, which is a $995 package for four nights in a two-bedroom villa at the hotel. We could use the voucher anytime within a year as long as there were rooms available. The only catch was that we had to attend the timeshare presentation again, but he offered us 50,000 points for the Encore presentation. I took him up on the offer simply because $995 for 4 nights in a two-bedroom villa there is a great deal in itself — those rooms go for close to $400 per night during ski season!
Fast forward to the present; we just got back from redeeming that four-night stay. We had a great time skiing, we sat through the timeshare presentation again, politely declined again, and I collected my 50,000 points. One negative of the Encore package is that the stay did not qualify for any normal points or elite credits, but I could live with that considering what our stay would have cost during ski season, plus having 80,000 Marriott points between the two timeshare pitches. Who knew keeping an open mind and attending a timeshare presentation would be so rewarding!
Timeshare is a four-letter word to many people, but setting aside the ramifications of timeshare ownership, simply attending a timeshare presentation can be highly rewarding. Timeshare marketers routinely offer points, gift cards, free meals, show tickets or other freebies to get you in the door, and they're yours to keep so long as you sit through the presentation in its entirety. Those incentives can be worth hundreds of dollars, so they're not just handing out peanuts. But if this makes attending a timeshare presentation sound like an easy win, know that it's not always easy, nor is it always a win.
While Kevin's experience was painless, presentations can drag on beyond the allotted time, often involve aggressive sales tactics, and perhaps most importantly, don't always yield the rewards you were promised. In short, it could end up just being a hassle, which isn't an ideal way to spend your precious vacation hours. I don't want to scare people away from the opportunity completely, but you should set expectations properly. If you're invited to attend a presentation, make sure you know exactly what you're getting into before you accept.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Kevin a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
(Featured photo by ajansen/Getty Images)