I recently had the opportunity to participate in a presentation for WorldMark by Wyndham. While I’ve been through timeshare presentations before, and Sebastian sat through a Westin Vacation Ownership presentation fairly recently, I took advantage of an offered incentive to get a closer look at Wyndham’s timeshare product and presentation.
For those who may not know, a timeshare is a property with divided ownership and usage. This means that multiple people own the rights to use the property and are allotted time for use every year.
Although many major hotel chains offer timeshare products, they are all slightly different and I wanted to see how WorldMark by Wyndham ownership worked. I was also interested in the presentation and the tactics used to try and convince people to buy into their product.
The following describes not only the program, but my experience in the presentation and what you can expect if you ever decide to participate in one.
WorldMark by Wyndham was different than other timeshare experiences I’ve had, but is it worth the cost?
Read on for my thoughts on whether this program is worth it and who might benefit from it.
What is WorldMark by Wyndham?
WorldMark by Wyndham is a timeshare product giving you access to resort properties throughout the United States and select international destinations. WorldMark is part of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, although they are not exactly the same thing (more on that in a moment).
WorldMark by Wyndham ownership involves a onetime purchase (plus yearly taxes and maintenance fees), after which the owner receives access to the resorts in the portfolio for life. Additionally, the program is transferable and can even be included in a will.
Owners purchase a package of “credits,” which can then be redeemed yearly at the 90+ resorts in the portfolio. Owners can also access resorts in the Wyndham portfolio (for a total of 220+ resorts) but must pay a $99 exchange fee each time a Wyndham Resort is accessed. Thus, while the two programs are presented as unified, as a WorldMark by Wyndham owner you’re primarily purchasing access to WorldMark resorts with easy access to Wyndham for a fee.
Credits work essentially the same way as redeeming points. Each stay will cost you a certain amount of credits depending on the length of stay, time of year, and location.
Thus, depending on the package you buy, you have an allotment of credits that you can use throughout the year similar to redeeming points from a loyalty program for hotel stays.
However, there are several big differences between WorldMark by Wyndham credits and redeeming points from a hotel loyalty program.
1) WorldMark by Wyndham owners receive a fresh bank of credits every year depending on the package purchased.
2) Unlike hotel rewards programs that allow you to choose between a variety of room options, WorldMark by Wyndham owners choose between a selection of condos. Credits can be redeemed for a studio, one bedroom, two bedroom, or three bedroom condo. All condos come with a kitchenette, and depending on the size, a living area and washer/dryer.
3) As previously mentioned, WorldMark by Wyndham owners may only redeem their options at the 90+ resorts currently in the portfolio. Although owners have access to 100+ Wyndham resorts, there is a $99 fee each time you book one. There is an exchange program operated by Wyndham called RCI, but there is a $239 fee for each booking using the RCI exchange. Thus, unless you want to lay out $99 or $239 per trip, you’ll have to stick to the resorts in the WorldMark portfolio. The majority of the resorts are located in the United States although there are a few international destinations. You can find resort locations here.
Although this was never made clear to me, it appears as though you can purchase almost any allotment of credits beginning at 10,000 a year. Credit allotments are arranged into four tiers constructed as follows:
Travel Share: 10,000 – 19,999 credits (good for 1 – 1.5 weeks a year)
Silver: 20,000 – 34,999 credits (good for 2 -3 weeks a year)
Diamond: 35,000 – 62,999 credits
Platinum: 63,000 + credits
Credits at the Travel Share and Silver levels can be used to redeem resort stays only, but Diamond and Platinum levels can use their credits to redeem for almost every part of their trip, including car rentals and airfare (because you have enough credits to do so).
Obviously, the more credits you have the larger the accommodations you can get, the more trips you can take, or the longer you can stay. However, to give you an idea of what credits might get you I was told that one week in a two bedroom condo will average about 10,000 credits while a week in a one bedroom will cost around 8,000 credits.
One thing I really liked about the program is its flexibility. Many timeshare products are dispersed in certain time allotments, whereas WorldMark credits can be redeemed for any length of stay you want. You could take several short trips or a few longer ones, whatever you prefer.
Another option available to you is to send family or friends on a vacation without you (the owner) being present, although you’ll be charged a $48 fee when using credits to redeem. Additionally, there were also a few cash options available should you run out of credits.
Lastly, another nice aspect is the ability to rollover unused options or to borrow options from the next year. Unlike other timeshare products, any unused points rollover automatically and you won’t be charged any fees for rollovers or borrowing from a future year.
Getting to Know You
Now that the basics of the program are out of the way, let’s talk about the presentation.
As with any other presentation in which someone is trying to sell you something, the WorldMark representatives employ a variety of tactics to show their program in the best light.
First, I was introduced to my specific representative and offered my choice of drinks/food. We then spent about 20 minutes talking and getting to know one another. This talk was more informal and functioned as an icebreaker, where the representative asked questions about my life and shared some things from his.
However, the main purpose of this time was to make me feel comfortable with the representative and for us to establish a connection beyond a salesman and potential buyer. A good salesperson does more than just sell a product, they sell themselves and make the customer feel more like friends. Oftentimes when you purchase something, a large aspect of your purchase is based on your relationship with the seller and that’s exactly what the initial chat was trying to accomplish.
Setting the Stage
After the initial time spent talking, I and several other potential buyers were shown into a room and given a presentation by a more senior representative.
This presentation portion was something new to me and functioned as an anticipatory set for the rest of the timeshare presentation.
For those unfamiliar with the term, in teaching the anticipatory set happens at the beginning of the lesson and serves to get the students’ attention, activate prior knowledge, and prepare them for what they are about to learn/do. You could also conceptualize this portion of the presentation as the hook, intended to hook the listener into what you’re trying to say.
Note paper and pens were provided and we were all encouraged to take notes and jot down things to discuss later with our representative.
The first portion of the presentation gave an overview of the company and its history, the product, and the resorts, all accompanied by beautiful pictures of places you could be vacationing as an owner. Emphasis was also put on the size of the company/product and awards won. All this background served to give credibility to WorldMark and Wyndham.
In addition to information about the program and company, statistics and research on vacationing in the United States and the health benefits of travel were presented in order to get us in the mindset that we too should be traveling more. After all, it’s good for our health.
However, the most interesting portion of the presentation came as a result of audience participation.
Like so many timeshare presentations do, the speaker asked members how much we currently spend per year on travel accommodations. I foiled his plans by saying I spend next to nothing by redeeming points (which he tried to counter by saying I must spend a ton my credit cards to do so), but another family stated they spend around $2,000 a year. The speaker used that number to make the claim that over the course of 30 years that family will have spent $60,000 on travel accommodations and at the end have nothing to show for it.
He went on to compare staying in hotels to renting while becoming an owner was akin to buying a house because at the end of the day it’s something you own (although it was never explained how owning gave you an asset that could be utilized in any way other than travel).
The point of all this is to convince people that they’re spending all this money on travel and have nothing to show for it whereas buying into WorldMark ownership will not only give them something to show for their money but will allow them to travel more.
The last part of the presentation was spent giving examples of what you could do with your credits. The examples were based on a 35,000 credit package, which I later found out was one of the higher-tiered packages, and thus more expensive. Using a higher priced package for examples is a common tactic, as the buyer begins to picture themselves utilizing that package long before they know the price.
Finally, the presentation ended with a video of testimonials from current owners, all of which said they’d gone into the timeshare presentation with no intention to buy but are now happy with their decision to buy.
A Closer Inspection
After the presentation I headed back to the table with my representative to discuss questions I had. Along with answering my questions, it was at this time that the representative began asking about my travel and travel tastes, getting a feel for whether or not they were compatible with the program.
I probably spent more time asking questions than most because I wanted to be clear on the ins and outs of this program, and it’s a good thing I did. For instance, I learned about the $99 fee when booking Wyndham resorts (WorldMark and Wyndham were presented as one program prior). I also learned about some cash options that were available to owners, although even after all my questions I still don’t have a good grasp on the specifics.
Overall, while the program is presented as simple and easy to use (and some aspects of it may be), all the little intricacies would take a while to fully understand. Luckily, you don’t need to understand every little thing to decide if WorldMark by Wyndham is right for you.
But before we get to the money, we must take a tour.
Following the second discussion with the representative I was taken on a tour of the one bedroom and two bedroom condos within the brand new WorldMark resort in Portland.
While both were impressive and contained very nice furnishings, I did note that the one bedroom was not much bigger than many hotel rooms. The difference was that it contained a kitchenette as well as nicer décor. Thus, in the case of the one bedroom it is mostly the furnishings that are being sold (as well as the kitchenette) as opposed to the space.
The 2-bedroom was much larger and included two bathrooms, washer/dryer, as well as a full kitchen and island. Again, luxury furnishings were emphasized, but in this case the space and extra bathroom/bedroom made it seem more like an upgrade from a traditional nice hotel.
While standing in the beautiful kitchen of the two bedroom, the representative asked me if I could see myself staying in a place like that. While I answered that I could, experience told me that there was a price attached to it and I expressed that cost was my main concern. His reply, interestingly, was to ask if me if I would become an owner if money wasn’t an option.
Of course, who wouldn’t?
If Money Wasn’t an Option
After touring the rooms, we returned to the presentation area and I was asked if I thought WorldMark by Wyndham could work for me.
I said it all depends on the price.
Note: At this point the representative asked me to fill out a sheet so they could see what my specific numbers would be. Although he didn’t state it, what he was asking was for me to give my information so they could do a credit pull. I told him I had excellent credit and that I would give my information if and when I decided to make a purchase. I WAS NOT told they wanted to pull my credit until I asked, so be aware of this and read every document before signing or giving personal information.
Without further ado, the representative presented a sheet with a breakdown of the total cost, down payment, monthly payment, and monthly taxes/maintenance fees for a 20,000 credit package (Silver tier).
When that was too steep for my wallet, he presented another breakdown for a package of 12,000 credits (I’ll discuss cost later on), which was still too expensive for me.
I could tell at this point that the representative was taken aback by my response. I think because we’d gotten along so well and I’d asked so many questions he must have thought that I was a sure buyer, so when I declined because of price he was clearly disappointed.
He did try to justify the price of the packages and asked me a few times why it didn’t work for me, but overall he was not nearly as pushy as other timeshare presentations I’ve attended or heard of.
Once he understood I would not be buying that day he needed to grab an associate who would ask me if he’d done everything he was supposed to throughout the presentation.
I must admit, when I heard that he needed to grab another representative I was fully expecting to be further pressured by that individual and potentially offered other incentives or deals to try and get me to spend something.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when the closing individual simply asked me my thoughts on the presentation and whether my representative covered a range of things throughout the time I’d been there. I affirmed that he had done a great job but that WorldMark by Wyndham simply wasn’t a good fit for me.
I shook hands with both individuals, grabbed a drink to go, and was on my way. The entire presentation took roughly three hours (some of that time was due to my many questions and some due to waiting roughly 20 minutes for the closer to come available).
Overall, this was by far the best timeshare presentation I’ve personally attended.
The sales tactics used were different than most and were meant to frame your mindset toward traveling more and the idea of getting more for the money you spend. I was provided with as much food and drink as I wanted, and I felt only lightly pressured into buying into ownership.
The best part of the experience was that high-pressure sales tactics were kept to a minimum. I was not told that I had to make a decision right then or the deal would be gone (although I was told they couldn’t guarantee prices at a later date), and I wasn’t offered increasingly lucrative incentives that would further pressure me. Once I made it clear that WorldMark wouldn’t work for me the presentation was brought to a close and I was on my way.
Although this was by far the best timeshare presentation I’ve been a part of, the timeshare product itself still wasn’t for me.
That isn’t to say that WorldMark by Wyndham wouldn’t potentially be a good option for some.
But at what cost?
Of course, the cost of WorldMark by Wyndham was only given AFTER the presentation and tour were shown.
And it’s really steep.
The first package presented to me of 20,000 credits, which would get me 2-3 weeks of travel a year, could be had for roughly $70,000 plus a monthly tax/maintenance fee of about $130.
With a $20,000 down payment, the monthly payment for this package worked out to roughly $900 a month over 5 years plus that monthly fee of $130. In total, this package would have cost $20,000 down, plus roughly $1030 a month over 5 years for 2-3 weeks of travel a year. After the balance was paid, I’d still need to pay the monthly fees forever. And remember, this price is just for 20,000 credits within WorldMark and not including any exchange fees for booking Wyndham resorts or using the RCI.
That was way too pricey for my blood, so the representative pulled out another sheet showing the cost for 12,000 credits a year, equal to between 1 and 1.5 weeks of travel.
Honestly, I wish I could remember the down payment and monthly payment breakdown, but I was too blown away by the $42,000 price tag and 15.99% interest rate to retain much more. I did, however, see that the maintenance fees for this package were only $99 a month (sarcasm).
At this point I did some quick math to see what my yearly costs would be.
$42,000 package / 20 years = $2,100 a year + fees of $1,188 = $3,288 a year
Spreading the cost out over 20 years results in $3,288 a year in hotel costs a year for 1-1.5 weeks in a condo.
That number doesn’t include flights, food, or activities.
Even if you spread the numbers out over a 30-year timeline, as they used in their presentation example, the numbers still don’t work out for me.
$42,000 package / 30 years = $1,400 a year + fees of $1,188 = $2,588 a year
$2,588 a year for a week and a half of accommodations. Honestly, I don’t typically spend that much for my TOTAL travel in a year.
Armed with this math, I knew that the value of the package wasn’t there for me.
But what about others?
Is It Worth It?
Although the price of the lower packages are comparable to a brand new 4Runner, the short answer for whether WorldMark by Wyndham is worth the cost is that it depends.
It depends on your typical cost of accommodations, as well as the type of accommodations you like to stay in.
For the majority of my vacations I either utilize loyalty program points or share costs with friends.
Despite what WorldMark wanted me to believe, I don’t spend thousands every year on hotels, or even on my total travel for that matter.
Plus, buying into WorldMark would have made me feel obligated to use my benefits, meaning I would be vacationing more often than I typically do, and spending more out of pocket for accommodations than I normally would.
Yes, staying in high end condos would be nice, but am I really saving anything? For me, it just didn’t make sense.
But, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good deal for some people.
If you’re someone who spends thousands a year on hotel stays anyway, then WorldMark by Wyndham may be a good option. Similarly, if you have a large family and would rather stay in a condo-style resort as opposed to a hotel room, then WorldMark may be a good option for you.
But before we go any further, a word of caution. Be careful comparing the cost of accommodations to total travel expenses. WorldMark, and other timeshare presenters, would like to say that ownership is less than what you’d typically spend on vacation, but remember that ownership only covers the cost of the resort. Even if you buy into a higher tier where you can use your credits for flights and other things, I’d bet that the costs of the package are more than you’d pay for typical flights. Plus, you can offset the cost of flights and other expenses by using rewards points and miles.
Long story short, make sure you’re only comparing hotel costs, or factoring in the total cost of your trips, when considering WorldMark by Wyndham.
Another trap to watch out for is the “sale” mindset. WorldMark by Wyndham allows you to stay in condos for less than their normal cost, but if you don’t normally spend $2,500+ a year on hotels then you are being upsold.
If you really want to get a taste of the luxury brands every so often, I would recommend earning hotel points and staying for free over WorldMark by Wyndham.
Unless you’re someone who spends thousands a year on your accommodations, WorldMark by Wyndham simply doesn’t make financial sense.
Moral of the Story
WorldMark by Wyndham is a timeshare option that gives you access to over 90 resorts in the WorldMark portfolio and easy access to over 100 properties in the Wyndham portfolio for a fee.
Despite their efforts to present their product as an asset like owning a home, what you’re really getting is upsold on travel accommodations that’ll cost you almost as much as a mortgage when broken down over a 5-year timeline.
This isn’t to say that WorldMark by Wyndham isn’t a good idea for some, it’s just that you’d need to already to be spending upwards of $2,500 a year on travel accommodations to make the math work for you. And as always, it’s important to do your own math and to evaluate whether this product is right for you.
If you spend thousands a year on hotels and resorts then WorldMark by Wyndham may be a good option. If you regularly travel with a group, the condo-style resorts may be right for you.
However, if you’re like me and spend nowhere near the yearly cost of ownership on hotels then this program most definitely isn’t for you. On the other hand, if a timeshare sounds enticing there are several ways to save money on your timeshare purchase, as well as ways to hack your timeshare to get the most out of it.
Wherever you fall, make sure to factor in the cost of airfare and other travel expenses when considering WorldMark by Wyndham or any other timeshare, as these costs could easily double your yearly travel expenditures.
Whatever you ultimately decide, if you’re ever approached about a WorldMark by Wyndham presentation at least you now know what to expect.
Talk about Money Saved!