Mar 31, 2008
I will have to give YTB credit in that their stock has rebounded considerably in the last two days. There has been speculation on this blog (in the comments) and on the financial forums as to why the recovery happened; most of it unfounded.
I do not know enough about the market to offer any realistic speculation, but I can say that the days that the stock has both risen and receded, the level of trading was significantly greater than the average.
As many have said, you cannot look at this on a day to day basis. Judging from the stock you don't even want to look at it from a 6 month to date basis or an inception to date basis. It is still very low and people that bought it at a higher price will lose a considerable amount of money unless it recovers fully. I personally do not feel it will, but time will prove me out (or disprove me) on that one.
What is curious is that this huge rebound was in advance of the release of the Annual Report which I have been told must be released by COB on the 31st. I will be very interested to take a look.
But for now, congrats to those that bought at $0.76 and made a few bucks. And "keep your fingers crossed" to those that bought higher!
Mar 29, 2008
Wanna know what everyone is reading? Here are the week's top 5 blog posts:
5. My What Strange Bedfellows
4. TICO, The New Enemy
3. A Partnership With An Uninsurable Operator!
2. The Lighter Side Of MLM
and the number one blog post of the week........
1. What Are People Looking For?
Mar 28, 2008
One of the vehement YTB supporters has jumped ship. I know what the two main responses from the pro-YTB crowd will be:
- There are 139,999 others that are making tons of money
- YTB did not fail him, he failed himself
But YTB did indeed fail him. Again with such a high number of people earning next to nothing --or even nothing, I am still shocked that more people do not see this. They merely accept the notion that they are going to be the next multi millionaire director.
The gentleman who resigned has spent the last 4 or five months vehemently defending YTB and their programs--2 Fly Free, the program in general, Europe, IATAN, RCCL, Stock prices, etc. He took the YTB bait hook, line and sinker and failed. Yes, part of it may have been his fault, but why did the program not do more to salvage him?
From this message (a comment on this blog) it seems that his PTL was more interested in selling websites.
I don't like my sponsor. I cancelled my YTB RTA and REPs accounts Monday of this week. My sponsor and PTL were the same person and it was not a good arrangement for me. Generally, when you enroll in YTB, you have a sponsor and my sponsor's sponsor would be my PTL. Under Proud's arrangement, Proud would be both the sponsor and PTL. My plans are to look for a good travel company who will sign up a guy with no certifications. YTB will take me back in four months, but so far I haven't found a sponsor I am bonding with. I can tell you all other travel mlm's beside YTB are out of the question.
Mar 27, 2008
I have often wondered about the level of support offered by HQ to the "agents" in an MLM environment. I know that with the large franchises and host agencies, the support departments are fantastic. But what is it like with MLM? Any different?
I was able to locate a former traditional travel agent who had joined YTB. I think the joining was more about seeing the program from a different point of view. When I asked about the support, here is the response I received:
There is no support at YTB or for that matter anyone who truly knows this business. I have called just to make inquiries about groups and other questions and most times the answers are incorrect, they have to get back to you, or one person told me to just focus on getting people to my website and getting new people to sign up. I have not found anyone there with any travel background at all. The people in my group are no help whatsoever. They know nothing about travel and most cold care less, they are pursuing the big money MLM part. One is a travel agent that worked for AX for 25 years. She is the defacto travel group in our group. Not sure how she managed to stay for so long, as she is not very knowledgeable about travel. She says she makes more money now than she did at AX. Find that hard to believe at a 60% split and she has very few downline. Asked her why not just go with a real host agency and she said the opportunity was better through YTB. It has been interesting to say the least. A very unique culture.
I cannot say I am surprised. YTB has (depending on who tells you) between 175 and 300 employees at the home office. Certainly to adequately support 140,000 people certainly there ought to be more than a few hundred. And again to go back to the cruise sale, the level of experience at HQ is questionable.
So what happens when a customer has an issue that is unable to be answered by the RTA? What level of service is provided? Is it the same with Coastal, Traverus, GTI?
Mar 26, 2008
Congratulations to everyone who purchased YTB stock a few days ago--you are up! The stock closed at $1.00 which it has not seen in more than a month
However, with YTB getting ready to release their year end financials this week, anythiung can happen. It could climb...or it could dive...or it could remain stagnant.
The $1.00 per share is an encouraging trend for YTB; however it is a far cry from the $8.50 a share back in August. It will be an interesting week!
Mar 25, 2008
About a week ago, a press release was issued about a travel MLM firm offering trips to Europe. It was even picked up as "news" by Modern Agent. In reading the release, I shake my head. Is it such a monumental task to be able to sell trips to Europe--like no one has ever done it? I also wonder why other agencies are not getting equal time in the press on their marketing efforts.
But as I read a little deeper, this was announcing a partnership with the same Chinese firm that is providing Olympic Packages (oops, Summer Event Packages...more on that later) for the agency. Now why on earth is a US based company partnering with an Asian company to provide travel to Europe? It just does not make sense! I don't see any European agencies partnering with Apple Vacations to provide travel to South Africa.
Certainly with the number of "agents" in place, it makes sense to seek out USTOA members? If not for a marketing advantages, how about the consumer protection membership brings? Are the clients of this "agency" very confident in Shanghai Springs? If the Olympic (oops, my bad ...Summer Event) sales are any indication, I guess not.
Now I have heard rumors that there is a continuous line of travel suppliers lining up to do business with this "agency". I would think that with all those options, it might make sense to partner with a company in the US that might be held accountable by US laws and not Chinese laws.
What do their current European vendors have to say. Collette Tours and Trafalgar. Seems like it is eroding the market share to me. Well, I guess if there was no market share to erode it is a moot point.
I just see this as yet another warning flag. Not only are we dealing with a company whose upper management has zero travel industry experience, but we are dealing with a sales force that is minimally trained and now the fulfillment is coming from a foreign corporation. There is zero protection for the consumer. Are the "agents" or the websites advising that this supplier is NOT COVERED by travel insurance? They are not on the Access America approved list of suppliers. So, if a policy is sold, the customer is SOL if the supplier defaults on the agreement.
But as the "agency" preys on the naive to join, I suppose the "agents" prey on the naive to buy! Good luck with that!
Mar 24, 2008
When someone wants information on a topic these days, they usually utilize the Internet and a search engine. Google is a popular one. Yahoo is another one used by many as well.
While many people have subscribed to this blog and many more are just bookmarking it and checking back, we do get a ton of traffic from the search engines. Last week, I was watching the search terms used to find this blog and I thought it was interesting.
For the most part, they are negative terms. People are actually looking for specific bad things, like "is this a pyramid scheme". They are not looking for "is MLM a great opportunity". Both search terms likely would have eventually brought you here, but the list below shows the search terms people used to get here--so there is no influence of the blog. At least at this point.
Take a look at some of the top phrases entered into search engines last week:
- FTC YTB
- Dr. Bob Seligman
- Is Mike The Travel Guy RTA a pyramid scheme
- Ted Lindauer
- Travel MLM
- Fired YTB Lawyer
- CLIA and YTB
- MLM cult
- Opinion about MLM
- YTB and TICO standards
Wow, Seligman is apparently still trying to be verified. People are still very curious about Ted Lindauer and his firing and I suppose his subsequent reconciliation. But a lot of people are wondering if MLM is a pyramid scheme or a cult.
How does this happen? I am unaware of any traditional business model in any industry that garners those terms in their searches. "Is GE a cult?" got one return on Google. YTB got 4,630. "Is the IBM salesperson a pyramid scheme?" got one. YTB got 6,780. "Fired American Express Lawyer" got no responses. YTB got 1.
Very interesting. It seems that it is not only the folks on here that are questioning the validity of MLM in travel. It seems to me that there might be more of a pervasive attitude out there as well. I have said it before, but if I were involved with a travel MLM and had to spend most of my time and effort defending the shady business practices, I would move on. Well, maybe I would put some pressure on management to do something first--one would think that if they were truly vested and interested in the business they would welcome the opportunity to "legitimize".
Mar 21, 2008
Wanna know what everyone is reading? Here are the week's top 5 blog posts:
5. It Seems Like Yesterday
4. Rhode Island Refunds
3. Travel Training MLM Style--What A Crock!
2. TICO, The New Enemy
and the number one blog post of the week........
1. Travel Weekly Asks About Trip Whores
Does anyone remember the ominous predictions of February. Tom Coleman advised everyone to watch USA Today for big news about YTB that will have everyone's head spinning? Well February came and went and March is almost gone as well and nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nyet!
- There was ton's of speculation as to what it was. The traditional travel agents could not imagine anything that USA Today might pick up except for a paid ad.
- One RTA emailed me and told me to look for the full page apology from Royal Caribbean to Scott Tomer; which was one of his demands before they would sell Royal Caribbean again.
- Another told me that USA Today had done an in depth interview with Coach and the news that YTB had sold $1 Billion Dollars in 2007 was going to be front page travel news.
- Still there were several others that approached me with the news that YTB was just finalizing the purchase of Travelocity.
Well here's how I think it went...HQ let a few Directors know that they were looking to buy a 2 man agency in Ontario to get the regulators off their back for the Canadian entry. The Directors passed it along to their downlines as YTB was looking into an acquisition and it has to pass regulatory approval. Then the RTAs and Reps talked amongst themselves and passed along that YTB was acquiring a huge competitor and it is almost through regulatory approval. And of course since everyone thinks the biggest competitor is Travelocity, it morphed into YTB was buying Travelocity and the news will be broken on the pages of USA Today.
The corollary to that was also another dose of bad information when Tom Coleman informed everyone that on the day of this announcement, many would make millions off the stock of YTB! Hey, I did not check lately, where is it at? Still firmly entrenched under a buck?
Mar 20, 2008
So, YTB is in Canada with their Referring Travel Associates! I wonder how they are going to address the training mandates that are being imposed by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) in 2009?
Last week I asked TICO and I received the following:
Thank you for your email. I have attached the link to TICO's FAQ' s in relation to Education Standards. Any person selling travel or consulting for the purpose of selling travel services to the public in connection with an Ontario registered travel retail agency is required to meet the Education Standard by July 1, 2009. http://www.tico.on.ca/travelage
Manager, Administration & ClaimsTravel Industry Council of OntarioTravel Industry Council of Ontario2700 Matheson Blvd. East.Suite 402, West TowerMississauga, Ontario L4W 4V9Tel: (905) 624-6241 ext 224
Toll Free: 1-888-451-8426Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeb: www.tico.ca
Every person in Ontario who is working for a retail travel agency and is selling travel services or providing travel advice to the public must, by law, meet the Industry's Education Standards by July 1, 2009. This includes industry Supervisors and Managers.
And from the FAQ page:
Q Why are Education Standards necessary?Since RTAs are not YTB employees, they are considered "agency owners" and are subject to the additional requirements. But this all happens in July, and if my calculator is correct that equates to $4.5 million in sign up fees and $7.6 million in rental fees till compliance is mandatory.
A Since TICO was established, they have identified hundreds of complaints and situations that have arisen due to the lack of knowledge or misinformation about the rules governing the industry. These rules, embodied in the Travel Industry Act, 2002 and Ontario Regulation 26/05, spell out the role of the agency and wholesaler and touch on vital issues of 'obligation to the client' and 'due diligence'. TICO is being proactive and instituting a basic course to ensure that there is a level playing field and that all registrants will be familiar with the Act and Regulation. This will, in the long run, save consumers, agencies and wholesalers a lot of stress, a lot of time, and even a lot of money.
Q How will the introduction of TICO Education Standards affect the way I do business?
A a) as an agency owner: As of July 1st 2009, you will have documentation from each employee attesting to the fact that as a staff member who deals with the public, he/she has satisfied the requirements of the TICO Education Standard, by passing the Travel Counsellor Exam. It is suggested that employees present both the original documentation and a copy to the employer, so that the employer can verify that the copy is genuine. The employer should only keep the copy--and return the original letter to the employee.
Also, as an agency owner, if you deal with the public, you will have passed the same Travel Counsellor Exam as all your staff. When you renew your TICO registration after June 30th, 2009, you will be required to confirm that all staff selling travel services or providing travel advice to the public are compliant with the Standard.
In addition, you will ensure that the Supervisor/Manager of the agency has complied with the Standard by passing the Travel Counsellor Exam and, if necessary, the Supervisor/Manager Exam.
b) as an agency Supervisor/Manager: As of June 30th, 2009 you will have passed the Travel Counsellor Exam. Every travel agency is required to name a Supervisor/Manager on their application for registration or renewal. This individual is the Supervisor/Manager “on record” with TICO. The Supervisor/Manager on record with TICO as of June 30th, 2009 will be “grandfathered”. This means that he or she will be given a temporary exemption from having to pass the Supervisor/Manager exam by July 1, 2009. An individual that has not been approved as a Supervisor/Manager by TICO and who wishes to act as the Supervisor/Manager on record with TICO on or after July 1, 2009, must write and pass the Supervisor/Manager Exam.
Please note that all supervisors and managers or other individuals who may wish to advance in the industry in the future are welcome and encouraged to take the exam. A combination exam is available for those wishing to write both the Travel Counsellor and the Supervisor/Manager exams at the same time.
In addition, in your capacity as agency Supervisor/Manager, you are responsible for ensuring that all travel counsellors are compliant with the Standard.
c) as a travel agent who deals with the public. As of July 1, 2009 you are required to pass the Travel Counsellor Exam. Upon passing the exam, you will be sent a "Pass" letter/Certificate. Take the original, along with a copy, to your employer. Give them the copy for their files as proof that you have complied with the Education Standards.
Q I work in a Call Centre - do TICO Education Standards affect me?
A Every person in Ontario who is selling travel services or providing travel advice to the public on behalf of an Ontario travel agency must, by law, meet the TICO Education Standards by July 1, 2009.
Mar 19, 2008
While the traditional travel agents have spent years and years learning their trade, we all know that for $500 you can buy all the credentials you need. Well, not quite. In order to get the "good stuff" you need to pay an additional $149 and become a CRTA. This is the proverbial Key To CLIA City!
In a recent Biz Report, the headline read:
"Become a Certified RTA at the location nearest you!"
Become a Certified RTA at the location nearest you! Take your YTB businesses to the next level as you learn from the best in your business - The YTB Directors!Now we all know that Directors are on the Marketing side and RTAs are on the Travel side. So how are these Directors qualified to offer Certified Referral Travel Agent Training. The CRTA class is the key to CLIA and if the instructors are not versed in travel, well that just sort of undermines the efforts of CLIA doesn't it? And what is actually taught at this class?
YTB Directors will be planning and conducting CRTA trainings - these field leaders will share the knowledge and experience they have gained on their way to outstanding YTB success. Remember what Coach says: "To be a success, find a successful person and follow their plan!" If you haven't taken an RTA Certification course, plan to do so soon! The education and motivation are priceless!
I had heard that by paying $149 and attending the class, you could just hand in the CLIA test and YTB-HQ would process them en masse for approval. Is this why CLIA is such a good friend? Mass submissions of paying cardmembers? The Directors who may or may not have ANY travel experience are training travel agents and passing out the CLIA exams? CLIA, why not eliminate the middle man and just send the ID Card stock to YTB and let them do it from the get go?
Mar 18, 2008
Mar 17, 2008
It seems the Rhode Island issue might not be dead after all. The other day, I was reading the Google Finance Forums and came across this post regarding YTB and Rhode Island:
I haven't followed it too closely lately...but yes, I d o live in Rhode Island. And there hasn't been any word about the sites coming back up. Many RTA's here were refunded up to $600-$700. From my experience, when a company starts making refunds for that amount of revenue, there is definately an error/mistake on their end. For them to fullfill the refunds without any effort to retain the RTA in a different cappacity displays the lack of hope that the sites would be returned to their active status.
After a bit of googling myself, I discovered that the Rep sites in Rhode Island are indeed up and running. Makes sense as they do not fall under any travel requirements. But I could not find a single RTA site available for booking travel. You can check out the Rep site like this one; but when you click to book travel, you get the dead page.
In late February, there was an article in Travel Weekly which discussed the possibility of the state legislature considering a repeal of the bonding requirements. But so far no word on if the measure passed or failed.
So, were the RTA sites all pulled in order to comply? Are they planning on reinstating if the repeal is successful? Did YTB really refund the money to the RTAs? And if this is indeed factual, is anyone surprised that YTB is operating on the fringe yet again?
Before all the YTBers jump up and say I am wrong; I contacted a Rep via his Rep site and asked about how I could go about booking an airline ticket to Florida., Here is the response:
We are ahning a licensing issue in RI. I would like to tell you more about the travel beusiness.
I was wondering John what your last name is> I looked for your email in my files and I could not find it.
I could not find your phone number either.
Mar 15, 2008
PS. Also a way to test if the poll feature is working!
Mar 14, 2008
Joanie Ogg, founder of NACTA was interviewed by Nadine Godwin from Travel Weekly recently and I thought this was an interesting question:
Of course no names were mentioned, but I think it is interesting that Travel Weekly utilized the term "trip whores", and I also find Joanie's response pretty right on the money as this industry moves to the future. See, I was not that far off when I talked about prostituting the industry!
Q: Suppliers are under no obligation to select partners based on credentials. Do you have hopes that suppliers may become more selective and weed out amateurs and trip whores?
A: Absolutely. I think they will look at host agencies, the number of contractors, the value of bookings [per seller] and recognize that support dollars are better spent where sellers are more productive.
Mar 13, 2008
Since my post the other day regarding the "opposing blog" not really supplying any valid information or answers, I have received a few emails commenting about a "break up" and a "fight" between the the blogger and myself. There was no such thing. A break up is what Elliot Spitzer and his wife are going to do over Ashley Dupree.
What happened was a disagreement. There have been disagreements since October and I anticipate that there will be more going forward. What I took exception to was that the posts on the blog had turned into personal and direct attacks. For instance, when I relayed a comment made by Vicki Freed, I was called a liar. The comment was accurate and truthful as it was told. My posts take the company and the Network Marketing industry to task. The other blog was replete with pointing fingers at me--to the point that I even had my own category. But, when I do it, somehow I am at fault?
I also found that the justifications and explanations were offering nothing of consequence. Re-posting info created and distributed by YTB is suspect. It has to be by definition. That's like asking your wife who is the best in bed. Of course the answer better be "you". But is that the truth? Possibly or probably not. Same thing with YTB. When you go to YTB to ask who is the best in the travel business, are they going to say Traverus? Traditional Travel Agents? I don't think so.
So I pointed out these issues and the fact that the blog is completely moderated. This one is not, as is evidenced by the rantings and ravings on both sides. I still strongly feel that unmoderated is the way to go. Allow some anonymity and it is a good thing.
So, if Doug feels there was a "big fight" or a "break up" I guess that is his issue with which to deal. If his feelings were hurt because I brought the issues to light; maybe a thicker skin might be in order.
I just received an email and it seems that Doug has blamed traditional travel agents for not moving up in the YTB food chain. I am not sure how he can come to that conclusion as it seems like a deflection to me.
I have no problem engaging Doug in the debate. I still think there is a way to co-exist. But as I have said before, not in the current incarnation of YTB. Arnie Weissmann suggested that they might survive by dropping the MLM side and by becoming a legitimate host. I think Arnie might be onto something.
It is amazing how much can change in 14 days. The cherry blossoms in DC can come and go. Stocks can plummet 20% or more. And income disclosures, apparently, can fluctuate as well.
On January 25th, I received the 2007 Income Disclosure from YTB and have been referencing that document in many of my entries as well as comments. But it appears that now the "tour" has ended, the numbers have been changed. I want to be clear, it does not affects many people--only 6, but the changes were very significant. I wonder if the Gleaning Department may be in need of some basic training; or maybe this was just practice for the Travel Weekly questionnaire.
On the new and improved income disclosure:
- The Level 5 Directors (1) income was increased by nearly half a million dollars ($466,524.30)
- The Level 6 Directors (2) income for the top earner was increased by a hundred thousand dollars ($102,153.02); this increased the average income by over fifty thousand dollars ($51, 076.51)
- The Level 7 Directors (3) income for the top earner was actually reduced by more than half a million dollars ($652,492.86); the low earner income was increased by almost half a million dollars ($473,288.75); and the average income ultimately was increased almost one hundred thousand dollars ($84,385.20)
Maybe having someone appear to earn nearly $5 million dollars looked good on papers handed out to the 30,000 people that attended the Founder's Tour. Maybe it did not look too good on SEC reports?
Had there been changes at the lower levels, I could almost understand this. However, these changes are involving 6 people at the highest levels. How does one under-state income by half a million dollars? One hundred thousand dollars? Fifty thousand dollars? How does one over-state income by almost seven hundred thousand dollars? And again under-state it by close to another half million dollars? Not much else to say but "wow"!
I know that YTB has had problems in the past figuring out how much they earned selling travel, now it appears that the same problem plagues them when it comes to figuring out how much they are paying their Reps. There is a wonderful program from Sabre called TRAMS Back Office. I know it is an amazing concept, but it will let you know how much you sell and how much you spend. No gleaning required! Hopefully the 1099s were correct since the revised numbers are dated after the date the 1099s were due.
The latest glean of the income can be found here. And if anyone would like to see the original gleaning, I can email it to you.
Mar 12, 2008
The other day, I had a post about an unsolicited email to a party. My point was that it was all about recruiting and not about travel. One of our regular readers made the following comment in an attempt to show the truth:
XXXX XX XX XXX said...
Wow! We're back on this again??? John has absolutely nothing more to find that's anti-YTB, so he's once again picking on an invite???
Well, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this invite. The person did mention at the bottom:
"If you don't want to be my partner then be my Customer
For all YOUR Travel needs go to: http://ytbtravel.com/JakePenaTravel
All the info was clearly trye. He did not say that you will tax deduct all your vacations 100%. He said ALMOST 100%! There's a big difference, but you fail to see that! If you take a family vacation, and YOU engage some work into it, then YOU can tax deduct YOUR part of the vacation.
Why am I even going over this again? John, you are going around in circles here... LOL!!!
BTW... invitations do not have to be approved by YTB. The presentation used does! There's another big difference there!
Now this poster is known to have made glaring errors in the past and has clearly demonstrated a decided lack of knowledge about the travel industry in general. If I was a betting man, I would venture to say he is very well versed on MLM and the concept of saying whatever you have to say to close the deal.
He was very clear in telling me I was wrong. So, rather than get into another argument; why not judge for yourselves?. The email was sent unsolicited. It was clearly designed to entice your participation in the "opportunity"...recruiting.
I would like to quote from a YTB policy that was established in April 2006:
YourTravelBiz.com does not support or condone the use of Unsolicited Bulk Email (spam) to solicit prospects for any YTB business. Proposed email materials must be approved by the legal department before use.If you scroll down the page to almost the bottom you will see the policy. So now I ask you, who was wrong?
This form may be downloaded from the Download link at the top of your Back Office page. To register, simply print the form, read and agree to the Terms and Conditions, sign and fax back to 618-659-9591. You will then be directed to submit your proposed email materials to email@example.com for approval.
If we should receive a complaint which proves a violation of this Spam Policy has occurred, the offending representative may be subject to termination.
UPDATE: This post was started several days ago, and when this was pointed out to the original commenter, he or she replied:
Then go report it to YTB John... if you feel so strongly about it.Well, it is not my job to police the YTB RTAs emails--that belongs to YTB and apparently that falls very low on the priority list. Secondly, if 140,000 RTAs and 303,000 Reps have been informed that the mere possession of an email address is grounds for solicitation, I think that at some point they are in for a rude awakening.
How do you know it was in first contact? How did the RTA/REP get the e-mail address to send it to? Evidently, the person gave it to him/her. This gives permission to the RTA/REP to send this information.
You are so full of it John!
Again, John is proven WRONG!!!
Mar 11, 2008
I just noticed that it appears that the Olympic Packages have been pulled from the front travel page of the RTA sites.
Back in February, I questioned that the sales were not materializing as hoped and was given a direct link to the sales site by someone that left a comment. Apparently that link is now dead.
A little more searching, and I was able to get to the Spring-YTB page and while there is a lot of talk about China, there is nothing on the Olympics. And this page was even a bit of a challenge to find. What happened?
- Was Shanghai Spring not able to pull through?
- Was YTB not able to produce?
- Was there a mistake?
- Another misunderstanding?
Step right up, sign up your friends and earn a $1.3 million dollar bonus in 15 short months! Yes folks, this program is so great, that one YTB Rep/RTA has never seen anything like it. This bonus is in ADDITION to the oodles of cash you are already earning in the YTB program. Yes folks, 15 short months to an additional $1.3 million dollars. And if you spend it on a really kick ass family vacation....it is ALL tax deductible! You can't lose on this program folks, so jump right in there and recruit your asses off!
Here are how the bonuses are paid out. When you reach the following levels (you will earn):
- Coach's Corner in 1 month ($3000)
- Level 1 Director in 3 months ($10,000)
- Level 2 Director in 5 months ($100,000)
- Level 3 Director in 10 months (200,000)
- Level 4 Director in 15 months ($1,000,000)
OK, so that's the pitch. Let's toss out a virtual slap to the face to wake everyone the hell up! This was discovered on a blog belonging to a Rep who has been working his YTB business full-time for three years. But let's take a look at this objectively.
YTB was kind enough to provide me with a disclosure (which, incidentally, has been significantly changed and is the subject of a future discussion), that shows you how likely you are to achieve these goals.
These are the actual average time it has taken Reps to reach the desired level in YTB:
- Coach's Corner 20 months
- Level 1 Director 30 months
- Level 2 Director 39 months
- Level 3 Director 40 months
- Level 4 Director 47 months
Now the die hards will say that YTB is offering the program and those that don't achieve it failed themselves. I think this is a clear demonstration of YTB offering yet another program designed to fail. Nothing new, just the same old song and dance.
Mar 10, 2008
Back in December, I posted 21 things that I still had not learned about YTB. Shortly thereafter, a Coach's Corner Member who hosts another blog, embarked on a mission to answer my questions on a one by one basis. What began as a legitimate effort has morphed into a daily personal attack. When one can no longer adequately debate an issue, this is typically the response. When I began this post, he was up to #13 and had provided no real answers; most are nothing more than regurgitations of previous "answers". Now it seems he has migrated to the latest "get rich from YTB in 30 days program". The blogger notes the lack of comments and then takes that as an indication of a job well done. Not so much.
Once you cut through the fluff, the answers (or lack of them) become evident Here is a sampling:
- I asked about the need for a 12 page compensation plan. He whittled it down to 4 pages and said that the compensation plans of Vicki Freed, Microsoft and BellSouth were also lengthy documents. Well, I would hope so, they are profitable companies and the average employee earns more than the $297 YTB pays their reps on an annual basis. However, he did not address that the document is carefully worded for legal compliance, yet craftily worded to create confusion to those that might fall under its guises. Smoke and mirrors.
- I asked about the $226 million in verified sales. The response was a series of snippets from YTB justifying and legitimizing the numbers. There was no real documentation provided and the closest he came was a quote from Vicki Freed saying that YTB had sold "millions" with Carnival. Sales is a very easy number to come up with for ANY organization. Well, easy for all but one.
- I asked about the de-emphasis on training at the annual convention. The response was he could have spent three days training for travel. Perhaps. But he also could have spent three weeks training on recruiting methods. The travel training classes were, by far, the minority. I did not count them, but if they amounted to more than 25%, I would be surprised.
- I asked how RTAs can collectively pay $79 million into a program and only receive $9.3 million in return on their investment. Again, there was no real answer other than to say that commissions are not realized until travel is fulfilled. Well I am glad that his three year industry veteran status is paying off. Are we to assume them that there is at least $69 million in outstanding commissions? Back calculate that number and you get $115 million owed to YTB. Translated that means YTB ought to be showing sales of $1.15 BILLION this year. More smoke and mirrors.
- I asked about the sale of stock by the executives. The answer was that executives of all companies sell stock. He even referenced some sales by Sabre and Royal Caribbean executives. The difference is that the executives of those companies did not sell the majority of their positions and they were not the founders! The stock has gone from $9.50 to under a dollar in 6 months!
- I questioned the competence of the YTB employees during the cruise sale. The answer was that there was some undisclosed information I needed to provide to unlock the travel mind at YTB. Apparently, they are not allowed to talk unless they are given an active RTA number. But there is a big discrepancy if that number is to be public knowledge or top secret information. Regardless, YTB encouraged people to call to book cruises on one day in November and when they did, they likely were not able to be helped.
- I asked why when Reps or RTAs are questioned or challenged, a standard response is, "you just don't get it"? Well, his response was essentially, "you just don't get it" followed quickly by, "it will come in time". Another top shelf answer.
- I asked about how RCCL and IATAN were "misunderstandings". This answer really baffled me. It was the story of someone locking their keys in a dark house. Then there was discussion about Bermuda, Bahamas, Guam and American Samoa followed by a comment that IATAN was unimportant as was Royal Caribbean. I think that remains to be seen.
- I asked about how airline tickets were booked. More smoke and mirrors. The answer referred back to the dubious Power List once again which showed some ARC sales, but at one point, it was explained that there was another company included on the power list under YTB that should not have been included. Must have been an errant glean. I asked a simple question--whose ARC report do the air transactions get reported on and there was no answer supplied.
There are quite a few more questions to go, but based on the responses so far, I do not hold out much hope for any real type of explanation--so little that I probably will not even bother to check back. I certainly am not entitled to any explanations either. But I do have the right to ask the questions.
Since I refute all of his "answers" as provided; I will likely keep asking questions. Smoke and Mirrors is all that seems to come from this company and their minions--I wonder if that is on the training schedule for this year's convention?
As to the other blog..well he can continue with the circuitous answers, oddball stories and the errant plug for some motivational guru. There will be no dialogue of any meaning on that blog simply because the author has exercised his right to moderate comments and delete those that do not further or agree with his his position. Have there been errors on this blog? Of course and they have been corrected. Have any comments been deleted? Yes--two! One when a RTA made 30 identical comments in succession (all were deleted except the first one) and the other was when a "director" asked me to remove the RTA number of a member of his downline. I am not afraid of the criticism (as some appear to be) and the comments will remain open and unmoderated. Freedom of speech is a good thing.
In closing, just a comment to the RTAs and Reps that are reading this. Put all of the BS aside and ask yourself why you got into this (or any) business? Is it safe to assume it is to make some money? The next question you need to ask yourself is simple: "Are you?" Look at the percentages! They don't lie.
I don't think so, and in the meantime the efforts of YTB, TraVerus, GTI and the others are doing nothing but dragging an industry down while the top pyramid squatters enjoy the fruits of your labors! Think about it!
Mar 7, 2008
We also allow "anonymous" posts. Personally, it seems the cowardly way out. After all if you are not willing to stand by your own opinions, why should anyone else deem them worthy of any consideration? Just a thought.
And finally, please let us know who you are. On the right side of the blog there is a survey. We just want to know in which category you fall--traditional travel agent, MLM agent, supplier, association or just someone that is interested in reading the blog. This survey is located right below the widgets that list our top keyword searches and our top visiting countries.
Thanks to everyone for their participation, their comments, and for reading.
This email was received the other day and still, as always, there is nothing about selling travel, just about the perks....sigh...
Spelling and grammar aside, this is the crux of the issue. I have said it before, if you want to rent websites, call yourself a Website Renter. Stop with the travel agent stuff--referring or otherwise. It is deceiving on many fronts and from this email, it still appears that YTB is doing NOTHING to control the messages being sent out to the masses. Do you think it is a coincidence that Canada will not allow you to call yourselves "agents"?
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Mar 6, 2008
Meridian Land is controlled by its principals, Timothy Kaiser, M.D. and Clay Winfield, each of whom is a member of the Company's Board of Directors (the "Board"). The acquisition of the Meridian/Silver membership interests was considered and approved by the independent members of the Board. The Company believes that the terms of the acquisition were commercially available terms and were as favorable to the Company as would be from an unaffiliated party in such a transaction.
Apparently the misunderstanding between IATAN and YTB has been resolved! It just took some time. From the YTB Biz Report:
NEW CLIA NUMBER: 00632144
YTB has obtained a new CLIA number for ALL travel reservations. RTAs who book travel directly with a vendor MUST use the new CLIA number as it has replaced the old number in the suppliers' database. The new CLIA number is 00632144. Some suppliers may not accept cards with the old number, but may accept a copy of the agency CLIA certificate in conjunction with your ID card. Please contact RTA Support for the agency CLIA certificate to be faxed directly to the supplier. This certificate is available ONLY to suppliers and must be sent from the Home Office.
Seems that CLIA stuck to their policy of issuing a new number for companies that have had their IATAN number revoked. So it looks like there was no misunderstanding at all. YTB apparently violated the IATAN regulations that cover the "improper lending, subcontracting or hiring to a third party of an IATA numeric code by agencies." their number. And now, that number is gone for good.
I am glad someone in the industry has a spine!
Mar 5, 2008
Well, I suspect this will resolve the issues for them in Ontario. Now to tackle British Columbia!
The Pinnacle Club is both an exclusive and elusive club for the top producers of Carnival Cruise Lines. Criteria for membership is a closely guarded secret akin to the Seven Society , the recipe for Coca Cola or even the herbs and spices in a leg of chicken from KFC.
Certainly sales play a part in the selection criteria and I would imagine future potential and creativity are also included as well.
Since there has been so much braggadocio from YTB over the years about how much Carnival they sold and how they were Pinnacle Club award recipients, I just assumed their numbers were off the board. So, I was surprised to see the addition of two new recipients announced this year:
Joystar with 4000 members, and Cruise Planners with 700 members received the award this year. Wow, talk about an accomplishment. These two entities achieved the same exalted status as YTB with 136,000 and 139,300 less members (respectively). Congrats to you both. Obviously this is a clear demonstration of your knowledge, expertise, and support of the cruise industry in general, and in particular of Carnival Cruise Lines. I wonder why it takes so many agents in YTB to achieve the same result?
I guess the more apt question might be, why was YTB not included in this award this year? Have their sales fallen? Have they not lived up to the potential Carnival expected? Did Carnival run out of the replica ships for the awards? Or is this another misunderstanding that is being worked out like the RCCL and IATAN issues?
Since Carnival does not officially release the recipient names, I also need to wonder if YTB did actually win it "three years in a row" as their many RTAs are fond of saying. I know when questioned at the Luxury Travel/Home Based Show in Vegas, Vicki Freed (then SVP at Carnival) said she only recalled them winning it one time. Is YTB becoming a "green" company and recycling awards? It is strange that in the photos of YTB winning it "three times" the Carnival BDM and Kim Sorenson are wearing the exact same clothes--all three years! Maybe someone from Carnival can set us straight.
I am not holding my breath. You see in the Seven Society, members are not known until after their death. I suspect it may be one or two more years till we hear.
Mar 4, 2008
With all the hoopla surrounding the YTB entry into Canada, I am not sure it is going as smoothly as anticipated. Press releases tout 3,000 people attended the kick-off meetings, and one commenter on this blog has stated that they now have 9,000 Canadian RTAs that have forked over the $500 and $50 a month. But it seems there may be a problem on the travel end. Apparently, the YTB Canadian sites have no booking capability--there are no "Search" or "Book" or "Go" buttons.**** And more curious, is the disclaimer at the bottom of the page:
Unless otherwise marked, all prices are in U.S. dollars.
ON: Seller of Travel – License Pending, BC: Seller of Travel – License Pending.
Licenses pending? What happened to all those years getting the ducks in a line before going full steam ahead into Canada? I thought YTB was only launching in two Provinces and now their licenses are pending...in both? Is there a problem? Or is this merely another "misunderstanding"?
***Apparently there is an issue with my browser in that the buttons are not displaying for me. I figured I better append the blog, rather than make a change to the entry!
Mar 3, 2008
Introducing the YTB Message of the Month* with SUCCESS program! When you sign up for YTB's special 12-issue subscription to SUCCESS magazine, you will receive an incredible audio message from YTB. The first message features the Founders of YTB sharing with you the exciting highlights of 2007, how they have laid the foundation for the future growth of YTB and much more! Don't miss a single message! You can only receive the audio CD by signing up through this special package offered by YTB and SUCCESS magazine. For only $29.95, you could be well on your way to succeeding in life and YTB! Go to http://www.SUCCESS.com/YTB or call 800.570.6414 and ask for the YTB special offer. In addition to this amazing offer, YTB has purchased a limited edition of SUCCESS magazine, which includes an 8-page spread on YTB plus the YTB Message of the Month. This limited edition cannot be found on newsstands and is only offered in your Back Office. You can purchase 25 magazines for $50.00 + S/H or 100 magazines for $150.00 + S/H. Once this magazine is sold out, there won't be any more printed. Order yours today!
OK, so you can get a CD of the founder's talking about the program for a $29.95 subscription. Then you can buy the SUCCESS infomercial magazine for $50 or $150? And what's the deal about "purchasing a limited edition"? Last time I looked at the magazine, there was VERY little about travel in there.
So really, what is the bottom line when it comes to expenses for a year of being an RTA? Initial fee, monthly fee, training fees, CRTA fee, CLIA fee, magazine fee, CD fee, attendance at the Funshines, attendance at the National Meeting, paying to attend local recruiting meetings, general overhead expenses, travel......my guess is that this is not such an affordable proposition when you figure the earning are laughable for most. The management and the top of the pyramid are doing fine. To the RTAs that are not, do you at least get a Christmas card and a thank-you note?
Here's MY Message of the Month: Brochures are free from suppliers and they pay shipping, admission to the NYT Travel Show is free for professional agents, SUCCESS magazine and SUCCESS FROM HOME magazines are advertisements (not legitimate magazines) and any editorial you might read is purchased--most people realize this.