Ever been on a cruise ship, a FAM trip, or a trade show only to be openly recruited by one of the “so-called” online agencies? You know what I am talking about–the travel agency in a box, pyramid scheme, be your own travel agent type deals. I know I have. Too many times for my liking.
I have experienced those FAM trips where “agents” openly discuss their new MLM business, and think taking their entire family along on a trip designed for learning is proper. I have seen the lime green shirts, car decals, buttons and laptop presentations at industry trade shows and job fairs. Even now they seem to be invading every online source they can. Gosh, locusts only come around every seventeen years. From MailPound, LinkedIn, Facebook, Craigslist etc. these people are everywhere–even though most of these sites prohibit solicitation. Does it stop them? Is there any acceptance of terms and conditions, protocol, or even common politeness? No! There is little regard for the industry, why should there be a regard for any other rules?
Recently, an agent in my office was on the April 2nd sailing of the MSC Orchestra. Now she was not on business, but on a personal trip with friends. She had casually heard about YTB, but is not terribly involved as to what’s going on the industry around her. I’ve been trying to educate the agents in my office, and encourage them to speak up and be a voice for the industry they’ve all been a part of for so many years. When she returned, she advised me she noticed many “agents” with lanyards walking around the ship and assumed it was a group and thought nothing of it. On Friday afternoon, April 10th, her husband went to the cruise bar to check on a raffle he won. He noticed a big sign on the door reading “YTB”, he had no idea what it was and went in to check on his raffle. It was an onboard YTB recruitment meeting. Complete with sign on the door. He didn’t stay to listen. Have they not learned after being dismissed by Royal Caribbean and now Norwegian Cruise Line? Maybe the Carnival family of brands encourages this?
What I don’t understand is why the suppliers allow it. They moan and groan about paying commissions, constantly lowering them on us, only to allow these companies to openly recruit unknowledgeable people off the street and turn them into a pseudo-agent and pay them a commission on their own personal trips? This is simply rebating. Isn’t that a no-no with most suppliers? With more and more of these type agencies making huge client mistakes, or even worse being sued by Attorneys General for being pyramid schemes, you’d think more suppliers would open their eyes. I know some have, and they deserve kudos and even more of my business for doing so.
Agents need to open their eyes as well, and use their voices when they see these open recruitments going on at events. Make it known to the suppliers and the agents that it’s not the place nor the venue.
But, the pleas will likely fall on deaf ears as the numbers show that without recruiting people into the scheme—there is no business. It is very similar to the locusts. These schemes appear every so often, become a nuisance, destroy a bunch of what was built up in their absence and leave. I know locusts stay for a few months, how long must we deal with these pests?
Lisa Rapavi is a Corporate Travel Agent for The Leaders Group based in Montvale NJ. She is a home based working from her home in PA. She has been an agent for over 18 years, working in all facets of travel, but focus’ her travel skills in the corporate travel arena. Lisa can be contacted at L.Rapavi@tlgtravel.com