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Free Timeshare Promotions
Timeshare promotions are the incentives that timeshare companies use to get you to visit their resorts and sit through the sales presentation. There are all different types of timeshare promotions. Some of the different offers I've taken advantage of include gift cards, discounted and free theme park tickets, and discounted hotel stays.
There are even some companies that will pay in cash just to get you to attend one of their presentations. They are counting on the fact that the more bodies they can get into a room, the more likely it is that they can sell someone a timeshare. With timeshare prices bought from developers often exceeding $30,000, it's not surprising that these companies consider offering incentives a great way to find customers.
If you just want the goodies and not the timeshare though, it pays to shop around. I actually kind of like attending timeshare presentations so if a timeshare promotion comes my way, I usually will jump on it. But it depends on what the deal is. And sometimes, if you hold out, they will sweeten the offer.
This is especially true if you happen to be staying at a timeshare that you don't own -- if you are there on an exchange or you rented it from someone, you are definitely a great prospect for the sales team. So don't let them take your time too easily.
I usually turn down the first offer that you get at check-in and wait for them to call me in my room. Then it is time to negotiate. I once got two $50 supermarket gift cards for going to a "owners survey" at a resort that I was staying at. It took about an hour of my time and basically paid for my groceries for that week and part of the following.
Vacation Timeshare Promotions
Some of the best deals you can get for taking a timeshare tour are free or discounted trips. These offers usually come to me by telephone from resorts I've stayed at previously. Usually they give you a call and invite you to tour another property of theirs. During your visit, they will put you up at nearby hotel for a nice discount.
This can work out either really awesome or really awful. I once decided to do this for an Orlando trip and the hotel I was booked into was pretty awful so I left early. The timeshare tour itself was relatively painless, but the place the had me stay was not nice at all so I ended up spending full price to stay someplace else.
On the other hand, I've had some really good trips as well. An all-suite hotel right near the beach in Southern California that only costs $180 for three nights (plus three hours on a tour!) is a great deal! So you need to ask about the accommodation and if I were you, I'd be Googling like mad while on the phone with the sales rep!
Also, it pays to ask about different locations. I was only offered the Southern California trip after I sniffed in derision at the offer to go to Myrtle Beach. Since I had no desire to go there, I asked if they had any place else I could go and bingo, California! I'll be going to tour the Wyndham Timeshare resort in Oceanside, CA. So definitely try to find a good timeshare promotion package that you can use for someplace you actually want to visit.
Free Theme park or Show Tickets
If you've been to Orlando, you probably know that one of the bigger timeshare offers there are theme park tickets. In Las Vegas, it is most likely to be offer to attend one of the popular Las Vegas shows.
Usually there are discount offers and freebies. Try and hold out for the freebies. Saving $50 or so on Disney World tickets is not really a big savings if you have to spend three hours fending off a timeshare sales rep in order to get it. So think FREE as in Free Disney World tickets. :)
Timeshare Explorer Packages
The explorer package is the sort of thing you will be offered at the end of a timeshare presentation. This is the last ditch offer that they will make after you've said No thanks a bunch of times. Sometimes this explorer package is a great offer and sometimes it is a rip-off. You won't have a lot of time to decide which it is while you are at the negotiating table so it's a good idea to have an idea of what might be available in advance.
Normally, this type of timeshare promotion is an opportunity to come back and stay at the resort you are touring. Usually it will be for 3 or 4 nights and it may also include an extra trip for a family that you refer.
When you return to the resort, you have to do another tour. If you really think this is a resort you might want to own, this might be a good deal. But since they usually aren't cheap (the explorer package for Sheraton Timeshares costs nearly $2K, but comes with some other perks), you have to decide whether it is worth the money you shell out upfront or if you would be better off finding an owner at that resort to rent from. So if you look up rental costs before you go on the tour, once you see the price of the offer you'll know whether it is worth your money or not.
It's also a great idea to look up prices on Ebay timeshare resales before you even go on the tour. Once you see the resale prices, you will be fare less likely to buy from the developer, thus saving yourself a bundle of money.