Friday, January 19, 2018

Can Book Publishing Employ A Timeshare Approach To Sales?

“We’re not going to force you to make a decision today,” said a man that goes by the name of Q. “You’re going to make a choice.”

See the difference?


This is because there’s no difference between the two.  My decision, er, choice, would be obvious.

Welcome to the world of high-pressure sales tactics in the world of time shares.

In fact, this presentation said it wasn’t a “time share”, but a "travel ownership.”

They were big on euphemisms and semantics, but that kind of word dodgeball is what makes you suspicious of their offer, no matter how tempting.

I took my family skiing in Vermont to a place called Smuggler’s Notch.  A lovely, snow-filled resort perfect for those who love to risk body parts in the freezing cold after withstanding an 8-hour drive (includes one gas and two bathroom breaks) through winding roads with poor weather conditions and low visibility.

Notice I said I took my family.  I participated in eating, sleeping, driving, and non-ski activities – but I stayed off the mountain.  I only skiied once in my life – about three years ago – and that was enough.  It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

To defray $400 off of our resort bill, we agreed to submit to a two-hour presentation on time shares.  For my wife and I, it was fine.  My kids were on their own, skiing.

We knew going into the sales pitch that we wouldn’t buy in no matter what they said but it was very interesting to see how they try to get people to spend as much as $100,000 on the spot.

That’s right, they ask you to buy right then and there, so fearful that once you’re out of their hypnotic clutches you won’t want to pay up.

Have you ever bought something that expensive without researching it, talking to others, or sleeping on it?  You can buy a pair of shoes spontaneously.  You can go to see a show on a whim.  You can suddenly upgrade your smartphone.  But who spends the equivalent of a year’s worth -- or more – of salary after hearing a slick pitch from a pro trained in the art of separating you from your money?

Now, let me just say that Wyndham’s offer seemed tempting and I can see how it may work out for others, maybe even myself.  But I felt rushed, pressured, and in a positon where I was making a decision -- or a choice – without doing due diligence.

For instance, they tell you they have 80 properties or whatever the number is, but I didn’t get to learn about any of them.  Would I necessarily travel to those locations – and what about areas where they lack coverage? I had other questions, including:

  • What if Wyndham goes bankrupt and doesn’t honor its commitment?
  • What if they lower their prices to sell more memberships and then there are too many members, too few properties?
  • Will I be able to go where I want, when I want --or will there be booking conflicts?
  • They say I can sell or transfer it but how would I do that and what stipulations would there be?
In addition to shelling out a lot of money up front, there’s a monthly maintenance fee being charged, one without fixed costs that rise over time.

Wyndham doesn’t own any properties – they act as a management company.  What happens when these properties go under or their quality wanes?

The package they pushed heavily was one that gets you 200,000 points/year for $48,000.  It gets confusing with the points but they try to show you that you get value on what you book.

That $48,000, if borrowed, depending on the interest rate and duration of the loan, could easily cost you 60, 70, or $80,000.  That money in theory, could also be used for other things, such as investing in the stock market, netting you more money.  Should I prepay a lifetime of vacations now – is it worth it?

Of course I thought about how I could split the costs with a friend, but that can get tricky.  Then I thought of how I could sell vacations to people, but that also seemed like more work than it’s worth.

Ok, so why am I like Hamlet on this?  Because there do seem to be appealing advantages of this plan, but it gnaws at me that they demand you do it on the spot, and I wonder if there are shortfalls that I don’t know about or can’t fully anticipate.

The experience did leave me wondering about how things get sold.  The time share people waived a carrot worth a few hundred dollars to lure me in to spend tens of thousands.  You see how easy it is to fall victim to a scam or to let your guard down.

I’m not saying this is a scam, but it could prove to be a poor investment.  It also might be a great one.  I don’t know.  I can’t process this over a cup of tea.  And then empty out my bank account.  But someone likes these tactics.  They obviously work often enough or they wouldn’t be in business.

What if authors did this with readers and offered to sell them lifetime readership memberships?  Each year you’ll get access to one new book – and always to the author's backlist.  You just need to prepay $175 plus shipping fees.  Would you do it?

Maybe bookstores – or publishers – can sign up lifetime patrons – or have a ten-year, thirty-year, or fifty-year membership for buying books.

I’d sooner buy into that than a travel deal – less money, great product, and with a brand I can trust.  Maybe Wyndham can partner with authors or publishers so that books get thrown into the travel deal.  Ready to sign up?

The interrogation process applied to sales by Wyndham was interesting.  They would first have you meet one -on-one, then a group, then one-on-one.  Then, when the first salesman failed to close, a second, more seasoned one was called in, making a different offer.

It didn’t work.

Unless I heard “free” or “please think about it and call us next week,” I wasn’t signing anything.

If the timeshare is amazing, which it might be, there’s no reason to do a rush job to desperately squeeze someone.  Even car dealerships have concluded they can’t always get a sale just because you went for a test-drive.

The harder they pushed, and the more they tried to dance around certain words and terms, the more reluctant I became.

Still, I was envious of their approach.  I wish that it can be taken to sell books and to grow the book industry.  If people feel invested in books, publishing will prosper.  But when we depend on single-book purchases we risk having to prove value on every purchase.  We need to get people to make a single decision that ties them up for a lifetime.

I lust for the very process I just condemned.  But for books, I’d do anything!

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs.

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