A red circle featuring a single digit hovers over the little arrow residing at the top of my Instagram homepage. Generally a DM piques the interest. Something someone wants to tell you that isn’t for public consumption. A shared post, even sometimes someone shooting their shot. More often than not in recent times though, for me it has been a variation on the following. “Have you thought about starting a travel business?”
I thought long and hard about writing this post. I thought longer and harder about posting it. For one thing, it will undoubtedly come across as cynical, maybe even miserable. For another, my Instagram follower count will probably go south as a result. But I seem to spend a lot of time politely saying no these days. I’m guilty of being unable to ignore DMs, or I will feel an obligation to not post any new content until I’ve dealt with a DM I may have received. If I can’t be bothered to reply, I won’t post a new picture or link to a new blog post here. That is my obligation to someone who has sent me a copied and pasted message but added the personal touch by inserting my name into it. I know, I need to get a grip. So from now on I can reply to such messages with a link to this post. Get those read numbers up before they inevitably add me to their block list.
Someone, somewhere is making a lot of money and more power to them. I assume all of these travel businesses are under the same umbrella. The initial contact is always framed the same way, “have you thought of starting a travel business?” Think Leonardo DiCaprio teaching guys to sell the pink stocks in The Wolf Of Wall Street. It’s a cookie cutter approach. At first I would give a multitude of reasons as to why starting a travel business wasn’t for me. More recently that has morphed into a more straight forward, “no, I’m too busy. Sorry.” Yet the next step is always, “why not?” From there we head along the flow chart to, “well if you have some time you should join our Facebook group and read what it’s all about.” Firstly, I don’t have Facebook. Secondly, I said no. Sometimes, months down the line, having flatly refused when first contacted, the “have you thought any more about starting a travel business?” message comes in.
Having no interest and not having looked at any of the Facebook groups I assume recruiting more people is worth money to the members of this travel business industry. As is them getting commission when they receive bookings, and this is the rub. A portion of this income moves up the chain of course so the higher you are the less work you have to do and the more reward you get out of it. The beauty of targeting people who run travel accounts to post holiday snaps or blog about their experiences is that they like to go on holiday. And they can book their own holidays through the travel business, getting a cheaper deal on flights and hotels, plus they earn commission. A percentage of which rises up the system. Amazing. Which reminds me that I should add Egypt to my bucket list because this sounds incredibly like a pyramid scheme.
These messages usually (but not always) land on my virtual door mat from females. Females have boobs. I like boobs. But I also wasn’t born yesterday. To any male reading this who has received a similar message, think carefully before you get sucked in, because that sucking in will always be in a metaphorical sense only. She doesn’t want to sleep with you.
2020 was the year of the side hustle. I appreciate it, I condone it. But this is mine. I don’t want or need another. I may never make a penny from this blog. Having bought the domain name I’m actually in negative equity when it comes to what I’ve got out of blogging financially. I’ve made my peace with that and it isn’t why I set it up. Bluntly, if I wanted to be a travel agent, I’d get a job as a travel agent.
The purpose of this post isn’t to offend anyone. Most of the people who have asked me about travel businesses have been very nice and if they are making it work I applaud them. But I want no part of it. I now have a reference point to send people to when the stock direct message rolls in. If anyone who has sent me a message asking me to set up a travel business is reading this and it has turned that light bulb on above their head that they are probably part of a pyramid scheme then I’m glad to have been of service. I’m sure there are also plenty of other travel bloggers and Instagrammers who feel the same way as I do about the subject too.