A common theme of this blog is that you need to be flexible and plan early in order to exchange into great timeshares. This general strategy is key to making great exchanges and truly maximizing timeshare ownership.
While I firmly stand by this general rule, there are times when some great exchanges or getaways become available at the last minute. Sometimes other travelers cancel at the last moment or the exchange company releases inventory at the last minute hoping that someone will fill an empty room.
I am sure that we all know that Christmas vacation is happening next week so most of the world will likely be traveling. Scoring a christmas week in a luxurious destination is generally difficult which is why you need to put in requests as soon as possible, generally at least one year in advance.
While planning in advance is absolutely key, one of my favorite timeshare strategies that I employ when I do not get a week through requesting early is through the use of booking a hotel and searching timeshares that get released at the last moment.
The general strategy is as follows when I do not get the desired resort or week:
1. Book a hotel at the destination that you desire to travel to. Try to get the best rate possible or ideally book with points. Make sure that the reservation can be cancelled 24 hours in advance. Booking with points is generally ideal as they can likely be cancelled 24 hours before check-in. Additionally, even if this strategy does not work, the vacation would be free!
2. Put in a Interval International Getaway alert for the desired timeshare week. If and when something becomes available, it will alert you. Book immediately if it is at a comfortable price book. Do not wait, as these will disappear in seconds!
3. Constantly search for exchanges up until the very last minute where you can cancel your hotel reservation.
As stated, Interval International and RCI will sometimes release very desireable resorts for key weeks at the the very last second. Here are a couple that I found this morning.
A prime ski week in Park City for less than $500 for the week!
While I strongly advocate planning far in advance, there are times that great weeks and destinations become available at the last minute. These last minute deals can be a fantastic value especially if you were prepared to book a hotel room.
I have personally used this strategy many times and have easily saved thousands of dollars for booking a getaway instead of a the hotel stay. In addition to saving money, we are generally happier with the additional space and cooking facilities.
Specifically, I was able to use this strategy in St. Kitts. The Marriott hotel and timeshare are part of the same complex. We booked hotel rooms for approximately $2500 per room but kept looking for availability through Interval International. We were able to book a 2 bedroom timeshare for approximately $1,000 for the week at the last minute, saving us $1500 and giving us a 2 bedroom units instead of a small hotel room.
In conclusion, BOOK EARLY but if that does not work out, have a plan to keep searching. You could be very surprised with some last minute availability!