This was just published by Travel Research Online and I think it is an important point of view that needs to be shared:
To the trade media I ask are you listening? Do you agree? Will you act? Agents reading this--please pass the message along!
This week's announcement that the California Attorney General's office was filing suit against YTB is now being followed on by an investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's office. It is welcome news that the states are finally taking action against the card mills and MLM companies that have turned an untrained evangelical horde onto the streets claiming to be travel professionals.
The battle is far from over. There is always another permutation of these companies flying under the radar. But what is remarkable in this particular instance is the way in which the travel media at large failed to take up the cry. True, Royal Caribbean and a few other suppliers cut card mills out of their rosters, but where was the travel media? By and large they actually became hives for MLM "travel agents". The bulletin boards and the online portals of major travel media outlets became at best a place where the issue was debated in an almost embarrassing fashion or at their worst where the MLM'ers actually held sway. YTB was placed on a "power list" by virtue of its "sales volume" without any serious journalistic questioning of its business methods or its impact on professionalism. I suspect that an analysis of the ranks of the circulation, electronic and print, of many of the media outlets would reveal an uncomfortably high percentage of pseudo-agents.
It is time for the media of the travel industry to take a real editorial stand on this issue, to get off the fence and denounce the business practices of companies that crank out travel agents in an assembly line fashion with no training and no real passion for the business. While the efforts of suppliers are appreciated, their concerns are not the same as that of retail travel professionals. It is the media that claims to be the voice of the retail travel agent and it is the media that can best amplify the efforts of travel agents who have taken a stand against the card mills and MLMs.
Travel Research Online