Travel agents can make living

Published 10:16 pm Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back in the spring 2008 I wrote about multi-level marketing firms like YTB ( and their efforts to recruit referring travel agents.

In my opinion their promise of instant wealth and unbelievably reduced rate or free travel benefits was all a marketing pitch.

I was skeptical of their claims and reported later that these card mills had run into the legal system.

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On Aug. 7, 2008, California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr filed suit against YTB, its affiliates and founders attempting to end the pyramid scheme and stop YTB’s false and misleading marketing campaign. The state of Illinois quickly followed with comparable allegations.

Under a recently announced agreement by Brown YTB is prohibited from issuing travel credentials in California and must pay $1 million in penalties and restitution to California consumers. Brown stated the agreement will “stop the deceptive marketing of [YTB’s] largely unprofitable travel Web sites and prohibiting the company from charging consumers nearly $500 to recruit others into its endless chain scheme.”

In a statement, Brown said: “YTB falsely promised customers they could get rich quick by selling travel online. In reality, customers were reeled into an elaborate pyramid scheme and most never earned a dime. Today’s settlement ends YTB’s pyramid scheme by arming consumers with hard facts and eliminating the need to sign up for this largely unprofitable Web site.”

I support this action of shutting down the so called card mills that issue instant credentials. I have not heard of the Illinois proceedings but I expect them to mirror the California decision.

These firms are no different than the diploma mills that cranked out a degree for a certain fee.

What still surprises me is that many well educated advanced degree holders opted for the get rich, instant travel credential route. They paid their dues in grad school so why in the world did they think that could purchase additional professional credentials.

That being said I still believe that people can earn a profit while functioning as a home based/part time travel agent. I know that you can affiliate with a properly credentialed host travel agency without paying a large start up and /or monthly fee. There are some host agencies that do not have any fees.

To be successful as a seller of travel you need to have product and destination knowledge along with sales and customer service skills. You don’t acquire these instantly by making a payment. These skills are learned and acquired along the way. Industry knowledge followed by lifelong learning is important in any field but even more vital in the travel agency business as the only constant is change.

The travel industry has always embraced education and today offers a wide array of on-line and at the destination training. One of the perks has always been the familiarization trip.

The Internet and the computer have altered the way the travel products are sold. The travel agent is still heavily engaged in the travel product distribution system. There are many legitimate host travel agencies that work with independent contractors and do not charge enrollment or monthly participation fees while other hosts have elected to utilize the pay as you go route.

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Happy travels!