The Professional Association of Travel Hosts (PATH) released a statement that applauded the recent legal action taken by the state of California against YourTravelBiz.com (YTB). The state accused the company of operating a “gigantic pyramid scheme” that defrauded thousands of members with deceptive claims that they could earn huge sums of money by operating individual travel websites.
Andi Mysza, president of PATH, believes the decision is in the best interests of independent travel professionals who are serious about selling travel. "This is good news for the hosting industry and I only hope that other states and the federal government will follow suit," he said. "YTB and other card mills have been preying on unsuspecting consumers for too long. For those who really want to develop a travel business and actively sell travel, PATH provides agents with a means of locating reputable, legitimate host agencies which are not involved with multilevel marketing."
The host agency association, which currently includes 18 members, has established performance standards and a code of ethics that are required of all members. The association’s definition of a host agency clearly states that members cannot engage in multilevel marketing programs and that the primary source of income is from the sale of travel.
"It’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys sometimes with all the marketing hype," said Pam Miller, Magellan360 president. "PATH plays a critical role in screening so independent contractors can feel secure in their choice of host and simply select the host that meets their particular business needs to become successful.
"Today's travel professional should be focusing on knowledge, education and building a relationship with the customer while selling the experience. If your host is not encouraging this, you need to step back and reevaluate your choice in hosts."
Host agencies will play a major role in enabling the travel industry to generate new sellers of travel by recruiting “new blood” from outside of the industry and providing the training, marketing programs, technology and support to help these agents get off to a good start. It is in the best interest of the travel industry to attract professionals who have backgrounds in sales and marketing, and give them the resources to transition these skills into the travel business, PATH said.
“There are many different legitimate host agency programs out there to choose from," noted Nexion President and General Manager, Jackie Friedman. "Agents who are serious about building their travel businesses should feel comfortable approaching any of the PATH host agency members to find the program that best fits their needs. It is imperative the industry recognizes the difference between the legitimate host agencies and the multi-level marketing and card mill organizations since the right host agency can provide an ideal environment for these independent travel professionals to thrive and grow. If it sounds too good to be true— it probably is.”