Saturday, May 2, 2009
Spring Break in Las Vegas by Dave LeSueur
Spring Break in Las Vegas
Contributed by: David LeSueur on 5/2/2009
You may have missed this in the news but it turns out that the Bush Administration was lying to us about the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. They are not terrorists at all - they are just ordinary American citizens being detained because they attended Time Share Vacation presentations and refused to buy.
OK, I made that up but all of you who have been to these vacation package sales meetings know what I am talking about. Time Shares are a good buy for some people, but it is too bad that the process is so painful.
I have never been interested in buying a Time Share so I have always said no when presented with an opportunity to learn about them. But this winter my wife, Mary, and I were sitting in front a fire lamenting the fact that it could be cold for another two months and we thought about how nice it would be to go to a warm location during Spring Break. As if on cue, I received a call from Hiltons Grand Vacations offering us two nights in Las Vegas for just $99. Las Vegas is not Cancun, but I liked that it is close and I have cousins who live there. Best of all, we could go see Donny and Marie! The only catch was that we had to attend a two-hour "educational presentation" on Hilton Time Shares. The caller assured me that there was no obligation, nor would there be any high-pressure tactics (yeah, right). When I questioned her further, she said that Hilton had recently revised its sales tactics to comply with the Geneva Conventions.
So I said yes.
Since I had no intention of buying anything, I wasn't looking forward to the sales part of our trip. It would be like negotiating to buy a car just for fun or something. Or maybe a better analogy is that it was going to be like experiencing the pain of childbirth without getting a baby for your effort. The Educational Presentation Hall was beautiful. The wall behind the Welcome Desk was full of celebrity photos, and I am sure they wanted us to think that these famous people had already bought something here. I noticed a photo of Kiefer Sutherland and I am sure he was there to pick up some torturing tips for the character he plays on 24, Jack Bauer.
The sales approach is fairly obvious. First they establish that indeed you do like going to exotic resorts and would go there all of the time if it were free. Then they offer you something that is impossibly expensive ("Would you like to purchase this hotel?") When you turn that down they continue offering smaller and smaller packages until they find one that you will agree to. If you still say no, they send in the Sales Manager. Then they have the Hotel Manager talk to you. In my case, when I had said no to the first three guys, they sent a burly guy with a baseball bat to reason with me.
I realized that they weren't going to let us go until we bought something, so I made an offer to buy the toaster in our hotel room. Big-burly-guy-with-the-bat made me a counter-offer and I accepted.
Once they had closed the deal on the toaster, they thanked us for coming and gave us a voucher for $70 to use in their casino. We haven't been to Las Vegas in a long time, so we were a little nervous about gambling. I didn't want to appear stupid playing one of their games. After all, I sometimes stay up until 2 in the morning watching "Texas Hold-Em" on ESPN2 and I still have no idea what the rules are. So we decided to play the slots. You don't have to know anything except how to push a button.
Mary is the risk-taker in our family so we decided she would do the gambling. It took five minutes to figure out which buttons to push, but once she got started Mary was a very good gambler. She won $230 in 15 minutes. "Let's quit while we're ahead." I said. "That's almost enough to pay for the toaster!"
David and Mary LeSueur live in Littleton, Colorado, where it was 75 degrees when we left for Spring Break. It was 57 degrees in Las Vegas.