If you’ve walked along Waikiki’s Kalakaua Avenue as a tourist then the chances are you’ve noticed the signs fronting a street side podium claiming ridiculously cheap prices on car rentals, helicopter tours, luaus, and dinner cruises. If you’ve stopped long enough to wrinkle up your brow in curiosity then you’ve been approached by an Aloha shirt clad “dude” with a name like “CJ” or “Scooter” who oozed just enough genuine charisma to convince you to lend an ear long enough to hear why you are about to receive such an impossible-to-pass-up deal on some of the most popular activities and attractions on Oahu.
We covered (and uncovered) Just Dreams Waikiki – for you. Go get ’em
One of the first questions you’re asked by your new impromptu island concierge is in regards to your marriage status. You must be married. This is where the catch comes in. They then dutifully inform you that in order to receive the once in a lifetime bargain on aforementioned activities and attractions on Oahu you and your spouse have to sit through a vacation program presentation, but don’t worry, “it’s not a timeshare”. Hopefully your first instinct is to walk away. But not so fast we say.
Here we provide you with tips on how to get the best deal on an Oahu activity or attraction (the incentive) while navigating your way through the Vacation “not a timeshare” Program presentation known as “Just Dreams”
How to Beat the Just Dreams Vacation Club Presentation & Get Free Stuff
1. Know Before You Go – Pick Your Prize First
Know exactly which incentive you want before you allow yourself to be “approached”. The less indecision going into this the better. Appear to be genuinely interested in the “offer” and that you want to know how to get the deal.
2. Be Honest with the Street Rep
The street reps work hard talking people into attending the presentations. They get paid if you show up, not if you buy into the Vacation Club program. Level with them from the get go and tell them “Look, I know you get your commission by us showing up at the presentation. We’re not going to buy anything BUT we’re happy to get you that commission if you work with us to get the best deal we can for this activity/attraction.” These guys appreciate your candor and will end up giving you the bottom price on the activity/attraction or give it to you free all together. Never pay the asking price even if the discount is great. The reps have the authority to work out a better deal.
3. Bring the Kids
If you have kids with you tell the street rep. Management requires kids under 10 play in the “day care” beside the presentation room. Make sure the rep confirms that the daycare is available that day. Make it a deal breaker. When there’s kids involved it’s easier to escape the post presentation theatrics.
4. Get Your Conditions in Writing
The presentation is an hour long. They also request that you have an hour available after in case you are interested in the Vacation Package. This additional hour is not required. In the spirit of fairness, keep the two hours open BUT book your activity/attraction incentive immediately after the 2 hour time frame so they know you won’t stay a second longer. As an example, if you’re getting a free rental car make sure you get a guarantee from the street rep that the shuttle pick you up AT the conclusion of the presentation. Make sure every detail is written clearly on the slip the street rep gives you. If the incentive can’t be booked immediately after (e.g. an evening luau) then book it as close to the presentation as possible.
5. Pick the Earliest Time
There is usually an 8:30AM presentation. You may not like getting up that early on vacation BUT it’s best to get it out of the way and even though you’ll be out of there in one to two hours, there is often a small 15 minute line outside of the presentation building where you redeem the incentive voucher. The current “Just Dreams” location is found at the Bank of Hawaii building on Kalakaua Ave. Don’t waste valuable vacation time – go early and get it over with early.
Just Dreams Waikiki current location is found on the 6th floor of the Bank of Hawaii
6. Presentation Day Arrival
After checking in with a valid passport and using the restroom (be sure to use the restroom before the presentation) you’ll sit in a quiet room with a few other couples. A charismatic personal attendant, likely someone with a visible limp (we kid you not – it’s a sales tactic that plays on sympathy), comes for each couple one a time until you’ve all been ushered into the presentation room where you’re seated at individual tables grouped as husband, wife, and charismatic sales rep that likely has a limp. In your brief epilogue with your attendant, let them know you will only consider “buying-in” if, and only if the package will reduce the exact total you currently spend on yearly vacations to the exact places you wish, exactly when you want to go – set the table for your departure from the beginning.
7. The Presentation Intro
Soon after being seated a wide eyed and wider smiling presenter stands at the front to get the crowd excited like a wrangler at a taping of Ellen. Most recently this person has been a woman from North Dakota who attempts to disarm you with self deprecating humor about her home town and the whole timeshare presentation experience of which you are repeatedly assured it is not. She can be quite amusing, playing on the husband and wife stereotypes about how the wives in the audience dragged their husbands to the presentation while the husbands sit arms crossed with a “dare you to try and sell me” stare, which of course every man in the group is doing, immediately blushing after being busted for being so defensive. She’s won a few over by this point. They let you know that they know you’re there for the free stuff and that’s fine by them, as long as you return the favor and “keep an open mind”. We can’t stress this point enough – they will tackle your suspicions head-on and do so repeatedly and it’s in this tactic that they win many over. Be prepared to be charmed.
8. The Presentation
The presentation itself is one big glossed over montage displaying snapshots of paradise, including images of everyday couples that look just like you offering testimonials about how joining the program changed their lives. If these thirty to forty something fixed income Applebee’s families can afford the program and get the most out if it then you can too, right? You’re dazzled by unbeatable vacation package prices whizzing by your line of vision detailing villas in Greece, castles in Ireland, over the water bungalows in Bora Bora, and resorts in Kauai. It’s all too good to be true.
9. The Presentation Wrap Up – How To Get Away
We’re not here to tell you with certainty that this whole thing is a scam but there are enough red flags at the conclusion of the presentation that should give you cause to walk away. First of all the program buy-in starts at around $9995 (give or take depending on the flavor of the month). However they offer you the “buy now” price which knocks a couple grand off the total if you buy today. Standard timeshare hustle (but its not a timeshare). They of course offer financing for those less liquid. If you want any easy way out, simple tell them you can’t afford it at the moment. Second, the program does not include flight discounts, so even if you find an incredible 7 day accommodation and activity pack deal to Maui you had better hope that there is a cheap flight coinciding with the set check-in and check-out dates. Use the flight issue as your ammo to offer a firm “thanks but no thanks” to your rep. In addition, there is never any guarantee that a package deal will be available for your preferred destination at any given moment so tell them this uncertainty doesn’t fit your lifestyle – a lifestyle that you are happy with (they’ll try to convince you to change that too). Whatever your legitimate excuse they’ll try to hook you by bringing in the big guns, the ones with the authority to slash the price and discount the vacation program further, with a “you’re killing me here” script fed statement that we hear from used car and discount furniture salesmen. Offer your hand and say that you wish it could have worked out but the cost simply doesn’t justify that flawed program and that the 2nd hour is almost up and you must go to pick up your voucher and meet another party. Try to beat the other smart attendees downstairs to grab your activity voucher before the line forms and be on your way to enjoying your free luau, catamaran ride, helicopter tour, or car rental.
Treat the experience as part of your vacation activities in itself and you can have some fun with it while saving quite a few bucks in the process. At the very least you’ll have an anecdote to share back home on the mainland, North Dakota or wherever you may be.
Note: On our most recent “undercover” investigation our YAHglobal couple was offered $20/day car rental. After following Tip #2 and #4 we had talked the rep into getting us a new Mustang Convertible for 3 days for FREE with only a $20 refundable deposit. Accept nothing less.