The Hilton hotel chain is most closely associated with short term stays for either business professionals or leisure travelers intent on using the hotel for visiting the local area near the hotel. Generally, the traveling public views a hotel stay as a single transaction and is shopped for based on only one or two variables:
- Closeness to a desired location (business meeting or leisure/vacation destination)
- Cost compared to other properties that meet the location citerion
However, the Hilton chain also appeals to those vacationers seeking to choose a property with the ambience and amenities more commonly associated with living at home – albeit a rather plush and luxurious home. The hotel chain offers a timeshare option that allows travelers to purchase time annually to be used or applied in any of the Hilton properties (which include both their Grand Vacation Properties
properties as well as their more conventional hotels and even affilaited properties not directly owned by the Hilton company.).
How It Is Sold
Unfortunately, while the idea is a good one for a number of reasons in that it:
Permits the timeshare owner to visit various properties in any number of locations, both domestically and internationally
Provides the timeshare owner with an asset that has a value to be sold, traded, or allowed to appreciate
Is a cost-effective way to vacation or have extended stays in destinations without having to incur additional costs very typically associated with travel (kitchen areas provide opportunity for cooking in the units rather than having to dine out)
Makes economic sense for the traveler or vacationer who finds themselves otherwise having to “rent” a hotel or other lodging without receiving any value for the transaction over 10-15 nights a year;
the sales techniques employed by the chain’s agents do not align with how people tend to want to purchase high ticket items. In this age of internet research and price comparison across options when the shopper is better armed with data, and is less likely to be bullied into making a decision with less than complete understanding, a recent experience with a timeshare salesperson included the following:
An assumption that two people viewing the property together must be married to each other (a dangerous assumption in this age, especially when the registration form listed two different last names), and even after it had been corrected; the salesperson continued to refer to us as husband and wife and ask how many children we had, how long we had been married, where we like to vacation together, etc. Even though I was accompanied by a friend and not a spouse.
High pressure to act immediately or lose the option to purchase (again, upon initial contact, I had explained that I was doing research on options and was NOT a buyer on this trip).
When I reiterated my position as only a shopper collecting data and not as a buyer; I was passed off to a “supervisor” whose job appeared to be to browbeat me for not “thinking correctly” about the deal (the “deal” was spending $40,000 or more – something few people will do on a single initial contact).
When I did not change my mind, I was then passed off to someone else who spoke softly, was less confrontational than the supervisor and suddenly started dropping the initial investment cost to less than $1500 to trial the service and sharing with me conspiratorially that it could be applied to the investment, so there was “no lose” in accepting the deal.
After all of the three hour ordeal, I did not purchase a timeshare and while the idea appealed to me, the sales approach of a “hard sell” and not sharing the complete range of options left me feeling that there was still a better deal that would be offered if I stalled, waited, or negotiated more strongly.
The tension did not galvanize me, or most of the prospective buyers around me to make a purchase and most left in an angry huff at what they felt was a less than honest portrayal of costs. In this current economic environment, not selling in a way that allows the buyer to feel comfortable with the process is just bad business. The dynamic has changed – and relying on tactics of 1950′s selling will not work in converting prospects to sales – especially in high-ticket purchases when the shopper is likely to put an even greater emphasis on being well informed.