My family and I are in Virginia Beach this week. I'm down this way for work. I couldn't seem to find a decent hotel close to where I needed to be within the price I am allotted, but my search on Hotels.com kept popping up a nice beachfront suite hotel 20 miles away in Virginia Beach for $90 a night. I could not, for this time period, match the amenities closer to where I needed to be, so I decided to just go with it. For a week long trip, a suite is a nice idea. For my next trip down, I'm only staying one night, so I used Hotwire.com to find a 3 star hotel for $79 a night. Hopefully I'll get better at this business travel stuff. Since I had a suite in Virginia Beach, it only made sense to bring the family with me. This is where having a wife who is a stay-at-home-mom is a real benefit (in many other ways as well); she can pack up the kids and come with me on a moment's notice.
Our first night in the hotel, the concierge stopped us to "ask us a few questions". Turns out the company that owns this hotel is building some fancy time-share places up the beach, and want to offer us a nice meal and a 3 night vacation for sitting through a video presentation. They also offered us breakfast and dinner.
I wrote last year about Sundance Vacations on my other (now inactive blog). I've never actually sat through a time-share presentation. I can't quite wrap my mind around the concept well enough to sit through the hype. As I understand it, you "buy" a share in a vacation destination, usually in a suite or a condo at hopefully an upscale resort. You are allotted a certain time frame when you can use this suite. I guess you can sell or exchange your time to other people or locations. It seems to me like having another mortgage, as you have to finance these things. I can't quite see where the benefit is to me. I've sat through many presentations in my life where an opportunity is presented to me, and I have to make a decision that moment. I've come to not trust anyone who won't allow me the opportunity to go home and sleep on it, or do some independent research on the Internet. If it's such a great deal, why be afraid of giving me time to think and research? If it's so great, wouldn't you expect my research to turn that up?
When confronted with these kinds of opportunities, I've devised a 3 point test to decide whether to pursue the opportunity any farther.
- Problem- I got this idea from Joel Spolski, of Joel on Software fame. Joel is a gifted writer and a successful programmer (I assume his programming is gifted as well, but my exposure to his writing is much more vast than my exposure to his code). He asked the question in regards to a silly, pointless product foisted on Wired Magazine readers about a decade ago: "What problem does this solve?" Joel says that the way to be successful, specifically as a programmer but I think it applies to other areas, is to find a problem and solve it. For this blog post, I'll ask this in regard to time shares: what problem does this solve? Do I have a problem that can be solved by time shares? I know that the presenters want me to think that my problem is that I don't have several weeks a year of access to an upscale vacation resort in Virginia Beach, but do I? My problem is actually a lot more basic, and until I solve this problem, I'm not worried about regular access to a vacation resort. My problem is that my career path keeps leading me into positions where I can only advance by finding another job. I can't seem to stay in a job long enough to build up much of a vacation balance. I also have young children, and a mortgage, so really, upscale vacationing isn't an issue for me right now. My problem is that I need a vacation balance and money. Solve that problem, and we'll talk. (Note, and I'm going to post an update on this soon, I really do love my new job. I'm having a lot of fun, learning a lot of valuable knowledge, gaining some valuable experience, and meeting some fascinating people. I'm really enjoying this position.)
- Need- This question comes from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a truly gifted man. I'm a gentile, and a Christian, but I get plenty of insight from the Rabbi. He points out that the way to be successful is to become obsessed with meeting other people's needs. If you meet needs, people will come to you to have their needs me. I ask, in regard to time shares, who's need is being met? I don't really feel that I have a need, at least at this point in my life, that can be met by time shares. The high-powered sales pitch gives me an idea who is getting their need met, and I don't believe it to be me.
- Think- As I asked above, why can't I have a night to sleep on it? What are "they" afraid I'll find out if I'm allowed to walk away, do some research, talk it over with my wife, and come back?
If a high-powered pitch is presented to me, and it doesn't solve my problem, or meet a need, and I'm not allowed to think, I do my best to get out of there as fast as I can, but I try to be as polite as possible. I try to be kind but firm. Obviously, sales people try to be nice. They want you to think that you may be hurting their feelings by turning them down, but you HAVE GOT TO look out for your own areas of stewardship. Their bottom line is not your concern. It never should be. Be nice, but get out.