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As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Speed bump on Holiday Road

Rule # 43 – Always look on the bright side of life (Pythonism, not a Gibbsism) 

     Time shares… the only way, some years, our family even had a vacation. It’s great to get away, to fun places we would never have even considered visiting, unless we were staying close by. Plus, the room part is already bought and paid for. We can vacation as frugally or extravagantly as our current finances allow.

     We have a time share at Massanutten Resort and we really enjoy our unit and just the get-away from the day-to-day back home. We have timeshare too, with another company and are now able to get away to a number of different places each year.  We always look forward to these vacations. The trips get us to places we can explore for history. They are highlights of our years.

     One part of a time share vacation is the inevitable sales breakfast. When you check in, the sales people meet you and set you up for the “free” breakfast so they can “update you about the resort, and let you know how the timeshare industry has changed in the past year”. There’s always a freebee at the end of the presentation, too. But you have to sit through the whole thing to collect.

     We’ve refused to attend in the past. That wasn’t a problem. But this year we decided to sit through it to see what the new pitch would be. It is a game with Hub and me now. Let them throw anything at us and see what we will hit. We double dog dared them!

     The day started as expected. We are checked into the breakfast and met by our starting pitcher. She is a pleasant person, very conversational and not at all pressuring at this point. We start the process with a “survey” of our experiences at the resort. What did we like about it, what would we change? How long have we been coming here? You know, the basic stuff about our experiences so far.

     Then we head off – in her car – to the restaurant for the breakfast. The game strategy is to keep us there so we can’t walk out if things get uncomfortable. Nice going, sales manager. Things stay light for this part of the game. Conversation is about our time vacationing and what we like to do. We eat from the breakfast bar. Drink coffee. She pitches a few things and we knock them down. We finish up there with the fastball – “let me take you over to one of our properties and show you what we have that’s new”.

     The game starts getting intense now. Score is still sales – 0, us- 0. She drives us over to the newest, high-end resort property we’ve seen in a while. These things are real luxury – if that’s what you are after on a vacation. The view from the unit is spectacular. You don’t have to leave the house to enjoy your vacation. I could cook in a full kitchen for the whole vacation.

     Not leave the house and cook for a week – and this is a vacation? I can do that at home. Forget about it!

     We both agreed that the place was nice. We were on base now. We all headed back to sales center where the pitching continued. She talked to us about the high-end place we just saw. She tried to convince us that we wouldn’t get our weeks next year unless we switched to a new plan in a new place. We wouldn’t be able to trade since our week “floats” and is not a fixed week. Hub says, “When we trade we book and fix a week, then we deposit it. It is a fixed week when we trade.” He hit a curve ball and got a base hit. We have the bases loaded now. Things get tense. Sales brings in a middle reliever. The fellow is a nice, soon-to-be-retired fellow who focuses on me. He ignores the Hub totally and asks me where I want to stay – where I am or in the fancy place we just saw. He catches his breath as I say, “Where I am.”

     “What? I don’t understand how you can pass this up.” One run in… yeah!

     I explain that we don’t vacation to sit around. We tour; we enjoy off the resort. We just need a place for a quick meal and to hang our head at night.

     The pitcher tries again. “They can afford it,” he says to the starting pitcher who stayed beside him. “No, we can’t.” But none of that is anyone’s business, especially these sales people. The middle reliever took himself out of the game when he saw he wasn’t getting anywhere. The starting pitcher made one last lob. We kept saying, “No thanks”. Another hit and another run.

     Last stop was a quick closing pitch from the final check out sales person. He talked so fast that we just said “No” to everything he said. His leg kept going up and down like he was beyond hyper. Then we got handed off to another person to collect our end game prize. “We need names of people to contact for possible sales weekends.” We gave them one name and some bogus phone numbers. This was the icing on the cake. Enough already!

     We won this one. We only lost 3 hours of vacation time but we have some freebees to use for the rest of the week. We earned this win.

     Now we went into this breakfast knowing full well what was going to happen. We’ve been to others where the pitchers – all of them – have been rude, high pressure, strung out or all of the above. These sales people and the experiences they provide really do NOT represent the vacation property well, at least to those of us who are on vacation. I realize these people are only doing their job, but…. These experiences put a temporary damper on the concept of vacation.

     But I must confess a bit of evil glee from the sales process this year. You see, they use Chapter 1, 2 and 3 of the Marketing textbook I had in college. I know what they are going to do, and the order in which they will complete their mission. I know their end game. Yes, it gets me frosted when it happens, but it’s so much fun trying to beat them at their own game. It’s almost a challenge. And yes, we have pulled the ultimate marketing kiss-off by walking out on the sales person in the middle of a pitch. It really does help to “Know thine enemy” and the rules they are using, so you can beat them at their own game.

     Yes, I know that marketing course soured me on shopping forever. But I am not sorry at all. It’s made me a more aware consumer, who parts with her hard-earned bucks carefully. My purchases are my choices, and not because it’s the cool thing, the latest thing, the most dazzling thing… I either need it or can afford to want it. There was, is now, and ever more shall be the truth in the phrase, “Self, you can NOT afford this.” And guess what, kiddies? It’s NOT so bad… really!

     Well so much for the speed bump in the road of our Virginia vacation. I’m thinking to quest for more wine, visiting more wineries… sitting poolside for a bit…

     Ahhhh…… much better!

     Namaste`, y’all!

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