First of all, thank you for reading this blog. Hopefully, I have been able to explain some of the reasons that many in the travel industry hold your company, YTB, in such low esteem. I will be the first to admit that you do indeed sell travel and that you have made some significant changes in the past few years. Bully for you!
I notice over the past few months, a lot of your time (particularly on conference calls, webcasts, and Facebook seems to be spent defending YTB Travel Network. The main question seems to be, "why is YTB moving away from travel?" I realize you are doing your best, but you really sound like Baghdad Bob by ignoring the obvious. For instance:
- Your Funshine Travel Conference has been indefinitely postponed
- The number of RTAs is consistently declining at the rate of 100 per day
- The number of groups YTB claims to have on the books has been declining
- The Pleasant Holidays Sale-A-Thon was a dismal failure
- Your travel sales (according to the 10K) are down considerably while most are recovering
- Vendors are tiring of dealing with your "agents" and are asking you to handle the bookings on a corporate level
- And finally, we learn that your division--the travel division--has been counting the sale of flowers, tents, and cars in their travel numbers for several years
What happened to the "largest travel agency on the planet"? Now it seems that YTB is aiming to be the largest seller of girdles on the planet--by the way, mad props to Jerome and Melissa for sealing that deal, I am sure they are making a pretty penny. Very little coming out of YTB today has anything to do with the "T". It is all about ZamZuu!
And speaking of ZamZuu, you and I both know that it is really no different than any number of shopping portals on the internet. Market America anyone? The advantage YTB has is a warm audience. YTB is very good at dangling carrots and putting slick talkers in front of naive people who will take the bait and continue to send in the money. You do realize that Juliet (or Julietta as she likes to be called now) St. John has used that same tired story about being homeless and sleeping in her car in previous MLM schemes.
A few years back, to the shock of many, you were name one of the most influential people in travel. You got a lot of mileage out of that as it was included in every press release--well at least it was when YTB was concentrating on travel. How does your fall from grace feel?
I have always said that there is potential for the folks in YTB to be successful in the travel industry--just lose the MLM component. I personally know seven former RTAs who have left YTB and moved to a legitimate host and are making a lot more money now than they ever did with YTB. They are earning higher commissions, a higher split, their costs are lower, and they can sell Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity, Azamara, Perillo, and others. They were not promised a spot on the Coach's Lap and a million dollars.
I know that you feel a sense of loyalty to YTB and in particular to Coach Tomer. After all, you were featured in his book. Loyalty is a great thing as long as it goes both ways. To that, I only have two words for you--RON HEAD!
I know the the line you are throwing out claims that YTB is getting stronger. You bring Ann Sedgwick in to say that YTB is having a good year. But I am not sure you really believe that.
Kim, I have seen your compensation and to be honest, you can certainly make that in the travel industry as a legitimate host. You have many people that are passionate and capable of being outstanding travel professionals. Why not ditch the MLM model and spin off from YTB and go legitimate? If Coach and Scott are so sure of ZamZuu's success, I am sure you could "buy" YTB Travel Network with the shares of YTBLA which you currently own.
Change the name to get the monkey off of your back. Meet with the vendors who have thrown you to the curb and ask if they will consider re-evaluating their decisions based on the newest changes. Talk with your serious travel professionals (your TAs and RTAs) and let them know that you are indeed 100% behind them in SELLING TRAVEL and then show all the recruiters and affiliates to the door.
With 30,000 RTAs, you are likely to have 3000 ones that are indeed serious about travel. I know of a few--Maizie Middleton comes to mind as well as several in recently departed Director's downline. With 3,000 serious travel professionals under one host, this group can become the nation's largest host agency virtually overnight.
Just some food for thought--for a few shares of that nickel stock, you might have a shot at actually doing what you have been claiming (and failing) to do all along. If you want to talk about it, give me a call.