Add me to the list of people who wasted time sitting in on one of GeoHoliday’s “90-minute” sessions on timeshares. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in timeshares. I think that, in the right situation, timeshares are a decent investment. And by the “right situation” I mean this:
1. You have a family. If you’re only a couple, then you can probably shop around for vacation packages and do just as well.
2. You have money. Don’t drop $5000 or $10,000, plus annual maintenance fees, if you don’t have it. And absolutely do not enter into a payment plan.
3. You are very flexible. As in – if you want to leave for a week’s vacation in 20 days, you can do that.
4. You want to travel for your vacation twice per year
If you meet all the criteria, then have at’er. I meet all the criteria, except for the money part. I’m comfortable, but I would rather wait a couple of years to get more comfortable.
Now, what about GeoHolidays?
From what I’ve read, buying a timeshare in the resale market will save you money. Buying a house, going in on it with a couple of families, is probably best though. GeoHolidays? Well, they seem to be flexible. But a lot of people are unhappy with them. Just Google “GeoHolidays scam” and you’ll have no shortage of reading material. But those complaints are mostly about their sales tactics. Do they follow the law? Yes. Will you get your money back from them if you cancel your investment within the allotted time? Yes. Do they give you what they say they will? Yes. Just go to the Better Business Bureau. So I don’t think there is anything to fear about investing with them, especially if you start out small.
That being said, their sales tactics are indeed garbage.
Here is what you should look out for, based on personal experience in Las Vegas, as well as digging around the Internet:
1. $100 dinner – “dinner’s on us” they say
The facts: This was $100 that could be applied to two areas of the menu of this particular overpriced restaurant. With an $10 beer and a $8 water, plus tip, we paid $40 for our meal. It was a pretty good meal, but I would have paid $80 for it. So really, I just got half off the meal. Still good, but why don’t they say that?
2. $100 of casino money
The facts: yeah right. This you can throw in the garbage. Not worth traveling to the casino it was good for. You can only use this voucher in one of four slot machines, the “promo” ones. Which have a sign saying “promotional machines” but may as well have said “you’ll-never-win machines”. And when we were up $20, I couldn’t even cash out the $20. They’ll only cash you out if you win the jackpot. Huh? So we’re sitting their pulling the lever over and over again for 10 minutes until we ran out of credits. So would you walk for 30 minutes, or cab for $12, to this casino so you can sit there for 10 minutes on a 1/20,000 shot of winning $2000? Not worth my time, maybe it’s worth yours.
3. Show tickets
The facts: from what I can dig up, these are good, although for just the show they say and that show may not be your cup of tea.
4. Free cruise
The facts: Yep. Except for the port fees, which run over $200 per person. And you have to fly there and back. And drinks and food aren’t included. Still a deal, but don’t tell us it’s free. It’s a ‘discounted cruise’.
5. Lowest offer is $8000 for three vacations every two years, plus $350/year maintenance fees
The facts: First of all, it’s only three trips if you go last minute. Otherwise it’s one trip. Second of all, that’s not their lowest offer. They were willing to freeze that offer for three years and give my wife and I one vacation per year for just sliding them $2000. That money would come off the $8000 if and when we decide to buy, or we could just walk.
What GeoHolidays should do:
1. Lay off 80% of their staff
Put that money into making the timeshares even better. Advertise on the Internet and try to cater to people who are actually looking for timeshares. Sure, you’ll sell 10% of the volume you do now, but with the reduction in staff, and stopping the gimmicks, the profits will increase.
2. Be honest
Get rid of the gimmicks, seriously. You turn people off with the “ifs” and “buts” – the “conditions” that seem to come with every “free” thing you hand out. Just stop it. Frankly, I would rather $10 in real casino credit than that $100 bullshit you pawned off on me. And give me 30% off anything on the menu, instead of forcing me into one area of the menu.