We went to one of those hard sell Accor Vacation Club information sessions during a stay at a Queensland resort. We had a morning to kill and the offer of $150 credit for your hotel bill was enticing. You have to sit and listen to the spiel for at least 90 minutes. These guys are professionals, they know every trick in the book. You need your wits about you.
They have to give you a Product Disclosure Statement, but they don't want you to read it while they are doing their 'smoke and mirrors' floor show. They have a choreographed patter to deliver. If you ask questions like "How much?"- you will be told, "Later, later, let me tell you this first ..."
Read the Product Disclosure Statement.
They want you to sign up on the day.... hurry hurry, think quick, you get bonuses if you sign today... look at all the money you'll be saving....read these testimonials....watch this slick video.... let me draw another enticing multi-coloured graph. When we seemed a bit restless after 75 minutes, our chirpy consultant turned a bit narky with the line, "I've got you until 10:30 you know!" The veneer was slipping.
It's not what they say, it's what they DON'T say.
There is an annual club fee (which could be over $1000 yearly). This will increase over the years. You might have to pay for special club fees and rooms servicing (starting at $85 per room). When making an international booking, getting the room you want, in the place you want, at the time of year you want, could incur hefty costs.
Only 21 Accor properties are offered in Australia, N.Z. and Bali (only one, and that's in a crap part of Nusa Dua, away from the beach). We have already stopped at most of these properties, we would only return to 2-3 of these resorts. Accor may pull out of this arrangement down the track, if you read the PDS.
Anyway, you can get better deals through internet special, particular out of school holidays through Accor Advantage Plus and Le Club Accor, without being tied down for decades. We do belong to Accor Advantage Plus (Asia Pacific). For $300 per year we get half priced dining, a free night and killer deals (e.g. $75-$120 a night). This blitzes the AVC idea.
Points expire if you don't use them after two years, so beware.What about if your circumstances or travel preferences change?
It's time share, let's face it. They want your money NOW ($46000 was the suggested quote for our needs, this was a mid range quote). They then invest this money ... remember compound interest).
I am no financial wiz but a careful read of the PDS will put a sour taste in your mouth compared to the euphoric chat that your sales rep gives you.
Once you sign, you have it for life, so be damn sure what you are doing. If it is so great, why use such a big carrot for you to attend these sign up sessions?
The big argument touted is that you are inflation-proofing your money. But if you put $46000 in a low risk/conservation superannuation account, after 20 years compound interest, you'd have more money that 20 years of AVC membership.
Trying to sell your points/membership
You only have to look at all the people (5 pages) who desperately (e.g. "ONO", "reduced for quick sale", "negotiable", "for family reasons") want to sell their membership on the Vacation Club Resales website.
My wife and I stopped at the same Queensland resort this year. We were approached to do the 90 minute sales pitch again. We were given even less accurate information after 100 minutes. Lots of prattling on about the consultant's overseas jaunts. No mention of annual fees/maintenance. Doing our own research (staying in some of these properties and using the Accor website) revealed three things:
1. Not all Accor Vacation Club properties are now managed by Accor (e.g. Legends in Surfers Paradise, Queensland and The Links Lady Bay, South Australia).
2. Some of the units are on low floors with limited views.
3. "Exclusive" Flight Centre "bargains" on flights (an extra 'benefit' if you signed up on the day) weren't that great, we could beat them going directly through the airlines' websites.