May 18, 2012 — Years ago I wrote an opinion stating that within our industry we have created a monster, of sorts, consisting of TS owners and non-owners who often ‘game’ the marketing system by planning their holiday time to include attending several timeshare sales presentations so they can ‘cash in’ on those developer premiums.
At the time I wrote that piece I called for a ‘global’ (computerized) verification system whereby either prior to arriving or at the reception area of the sales center the prospects’ names are entered into a computer to see how many ‘pitches’ they’ve attended, the results of the presentation as well as the value/cost of all premiums accumulated over the previous (e.g.) 10 years.
Admittedly, developers didn’t seem to care about the wasted time and costs associated with these prospects but I did receive a lot of e-mail on the topic from sales people (and timeshare owners), including a couple of our own industry tech savvy companies who applauded the proposal and claimed they were going to get about the business of developing such a system.
In fact some did just that, but to the best of my knowledge the system never became ‘global’ and from what I understand the verifications being used are limited to a handful of developers who track their sales guests in order to prevent the same prospect from attending more than one sales presentation (at any of their resorts) within the previous 12 months.
There are other developers, however, who could still care less how many times a prospect has attended a sales presentation (anywhere) even though many of these ‘polished’ tours know more about TS than many of the developer’s own reps.
These prospects have seen the sales system so many times now they even know the jargon, including but not limited to, the meaning of ‘liner’, ‘podium-speaker’, ‘closer’, ‘drops’, ‘VLO’, etc. and the great last ditch timeshare Hail Mary of all time, the old “exit/trial program”.
But these ‘professional tours’ are taking their skills to new heights. For the past few years they have been offering free lessons on websites and social media platforms to any interested people, teaching them how to ‘game’ the developer and those prospects are also showing up in sales centers around the world.
I’ve even read where many of these seasoned timeshare ‘pros’ are having their followers ‘tweet’ them right before arrival, or during or after the ‘pitch’, in case they have any questions or, worse, outright make a purchase!
If they do purchase, the ‘pro’ will advise them on how to cancel, adding if they really want to be an owner there are much better deals than paying retail from the developer. And in some instances I’ve actually followed the ‘tweet’ and as it turned out, the ‘advisor’ just so happened to have some readily available inventory.
There is now even a husband and wife team based out of Las Vegas that has come to The Gate’s attention recently who specialize in helping people cash in on those ‘fly-buy’ timeshare marketing promotions as well.
What they seem to have developed is a method whereby they are teaching people from around the USA and Canada on how to take advantage of ‘fly-buy’ promos. And then once these ‘sales guests’ have attended the presentation they are shown how to get a full refund for all their expenses associated with participating in the ‘fly-buy’.
In fact this Sin-City couple, according to information (and records) sent to The Gate, have perfected their little shenanigans to such a point that when the refund is actually sent they then instruct the former ‘prospect’ to wait 30 days and then apply for a second refund and in some cases those second checks have actually been paid out as well.
Of course there are known solutions for all these issues. But like the Hanna-Barbera cartoon cat character “Mr. Jinx” in the series “Huckleberry Hound” who was constantly being foiled by those two shrewd mice “Pixie and Dixie”, most developers are not embracing the known universe.
Sadly, instead of adapting some developers have apparently concluded the status quo is fine and, mimicking “Mr. Jinx”, they just prefer to “hate those meeces to pieces!”
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©2012 Inside The Gate