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WorldVentures: This is NOT the Way to Travel the World

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Last Monday Michael and I went to a coworking event with a group called DC Night Owls. It’s a pretty neat concept: freelancers, programmers, start-up entrepreuners all getting together a couple of evenings a month to meet and work together on different projects.

It was our first time, and we felt kind of like the new kids in school, so when a friendly looking guy started chatting with us about our businesses, we were psyched. As we talked about living and working around the world he got more and more excited. We’re on exactly the same page, he told us. He just had to tell us about his business!

He settled down beside us and flipped open his Samsung tablet. Thinking we were going to hear about his start-up or website or whatever, we leaned in. He started in on a slideshow featuring generic travel photos under headings like BEACHES, NIGHTLIFE, ADVENTURE.

FRUITY DRINKS

Well whatever he’s doing, it sounds pretty cliché, I thought to myself. He kept going telling us about this online travel club called WorldVentures, where users can buy discounted travel packages for super cheap if they just pay a $199 fee + $54.95 a month (what a deal!). Then he told us the real money was in becoming an associate and recruiting others to join the program.

It wasn’t until he showed us the pay structure, which looked exactly like a pyramid, that I realized what was going on. It looked like this guy was actually trying to recruit us into a pyramid scheme!

“I’m going to stop you right now,” Mike said. The guy looked up from his endless slideshow where he was explaining all the free trips and cars you can earn, just by working for yourself! “We’re never going to be interested in this.”

“I thought you guys said you were entrepreneurs,” the guy mumbled before shuffling off dejectedly. Mike and I looked at each other in disbelief. Did that really just happen?

I didn’t know people even still DID these things. I associate these sort of companies (like Amway) with some bygone era. Clearly they do since this young (probably late twenty-something) dude was trolling coworking meetups for sign ups. So of course I started digging.

What I learned really surprised me. This is a multi-million dollar company and it is growing fast. When I asked around on facebook many people seemed to know at least one or two people involved.

With a few hours of research I was able to get the scoop on WorldVentures and I was pretty disturbed by what I learned:

The Promise

On it’s most shallow surface a program like WorldVentures sounds incredibly appealing. Trapped in a job you hate? Longing to see the world? Join us and become your own boss! Work from anywhere! Earn fabulous rewards like cars and vacations!

“Make a living while living,” is the catchphrase. And who wouldn’t want that? In fact, maybe readers of travel blogs are particularly susceptible to such a line. Isn’t that was a lot of websites promise? Isn’t that the idea behind the 4 hour work week? Isn’t that basically what I claim to do, more or less (possibly why the coworking dude thought I seemed like a perfect target)?

WorldVentures mentions “dreamtrips” and their promotional materials feature sales associates in tropical places holding signs that say “You should be here.” They entice people with the promise of an easy, glamorous way to make a living, and you can’t say it’s not appealing. In a world where becoming a location independent entrepreneur is the goal of many, this seems like the fast track to easy living.

The Program

Hidden only slightly below the glossy promises is the fact that WorldVentures is at heart a multi-level marketing (MLM) network. My initial impression was slightly off: it is NOT a pyramid scheme because the company sells actual products (vacations), which is enough to keep them on the correct side of the law.

The idea behind MLM is that you make money not just through your own sales work, but by recruiting other salespeople and making a cut of any sales that they make. Recruit enough people below you and you can just relax and watch the money roll in.

To become a sales rep you pay a $99.95 sign-up fee plus 10.99 a month. You then go to work recruiting others to sign up below you. Honestly the pay out scheme is so complicated I started tuning out, but to quote this very interesting article in the Observer:

“WorldVentures has a virtually inscrutable payout schedule comprising seven ranks and two pyramid-shaped hierarchies. The first pyramid is called the “lineage.” You sit at the top and everyone you’ve personally recruited is added directly below you, and everyone they’ve recruited is below them, and so on. Lineage is factored into rank, which is factored into compensation. The second pyramid is the “binary organization.” Here the pyramid spreads out by twos—the top spot sits directly above a left and a right spot, each of which sits above its own pairs, and so on. You can then earn bonuses based on sales made by the binary organization, which is comprised of the reps you recruit, and the reps they recruit.”

Right… so if you manage to master that complicated pyramid, you could potentially make a lot of money. You may not though, and here’s why:

The Problem

Many of you probably already know the issues with MLMs, but here is the lowdown, straight from Wikipedia:

“Companies that use MLM models for compensation have been a frequent subject of criticism and lawsuits. Criticism has focused on their similarity to illegal pyramid schemes, price fixing of products, high initial entry costs (for marketing kit and first products), emphasis on recruitment of others over actual sales, encouraging if not requiring members to purchase and use the company’s products, exploitation of personal relationships as both sales and recruiting targets, complex and sometimes exaggerated compensation schemes, the company making major money off its training events and materials, and cult-like techniques which some groups use to enhance their members’ enthusiasm and devotion.”

Some people do make lots of money off of MLM, but many people do not. You see there is always a catch. In the case of WorldVentures the catch is:

  • Reps don’t start earning commission until they manage to recruit 30 customers or salespeople below them. That’s a lot of hustling. This is only the start of a list of very complicated rules and regulations which mean that very few people actually make it to the point of payout.
  • It’s not impossible to make money in WorldVentures, or else nobody would do it. It’s just a hell of a lot harder than recruiters would have you believe. Again from the Observer:

“MLM is a grind. When reps fail to make money, they’re taught to blame themselves. Reps are also heavily encouraged to spend their own money on WorldVentures’ myriad training events, which can range from $29 to hundreds of dollars to attend. WorldVentures has a tendency to sue its former employees who move to competing MLMs or speak negatively about the company, squashing public dissent;”

  • According to WorldVentures official documents, “73.7 percent of reps fail to earn a commission and only .1 percent earn a yearly income above the poverty level. The average rep earns $325 in a year. That doesn’t account for the price of joining or the cost of training events.”

If you need further proof this is a bad idea check out this guys first person account of his experiences (since removed but preserved via Wayback Machine):

“Not only you have to pay for Dreamtrips membership for trips which are priced the same or even higher than if you booked the exact same trip online or better through your travel agent who would take care of your flights too and treat you like a good valued customer, but you are bombarded every month with trainings (costing from 99US to 500 US), Marketing Tools that should be offered for free (ie 30 US per month to use a mailing system) and many more additional costs that WorldVentures uses to extract more money out of its reps and members.”

Someone is making a heck of a lot of money out of WorldVentures, but it probably won’t be you.

What I actually found most disturbing when looking into the company is the almost zombie-like devotion it cultivates among salespeople. If you look at the comments on any of the above linked articles you will see dozens and dozens of people staunchly defending the company. These comments often spout back the company lines word for word.

Additionally, when you search for terms like “is worldVenture a scam?” or “worldVenture pyramid scheme” you will find tons of enthusiastic users expounding on why it’s definitely not a scam.

That’s probably enough to appease a lot of people thinking about participating. It’s only those who dig deeper who will find out that WorldVentures has been the subject of several lawsuits and that the travel deals it offers aren’t even that great.

The Bottom Line:

Nobody likes to hear this, but anyone trying to lure you in with the promise of fast easy money is pulling a fast one on you. Particularly if you have to lay out money at the beginning to get involved. You are not going to get rich off of WorldVentures, but if you sign up WorldVentures is going to continue to get quite rich off of you.

The Silver Lining

So there’s no magical way to travel around the world and get rich while doing it. Trust me, I would know.

That doesn’t mean you can’t see the world though, for cheap too. Readers of this blog already know there are plenty of ways to travel around the world for far less money than you think. And yes, they require some of that less-fun stuff like working hard, and saving, but the end result is way more satisfying and sustainable.

The scariest thing for me is that WorldVentures appears to actually be growing, which means a lot of people are being enticed into paying good money and effort down a rabbit hole when there are far more productive ways to realize your travel dreams. Don’t be fooled, don’t go for the “easy money.” I promise you can do better.

Have you heard of WorldVentures?

9/27/13 UPDATE: Since publishing two months ago this blog post has become one of my most commented on posts, with passionate arguments from both pro and anti-WorldVenture perspectives. I welcome your insights, however, due to the high volume and limited hours in the day, I am not going to be responding to any more comments on this post. I will continue to moderate and delete abusive comments but I will not be engaging. Thank you!

10/10/13 UPDATE: After reading through a slew of comments from people who clearly didn’t read this article, and are mainly interested in promoting their own agenda and arguing with each other, I’ve made the decision to close the comments on this post. I stand behind what I’ve written, but I’m a professional, and it’s not a good use of my time to monitor and deal with these comments. Pretty much every point of view is already represented below, so I suggest you read on for alternate opinions.

You may not appreciate this decision, but it’s my blog, my rules. My post on Worldventures is just a tiny fraction of what this website is about. Contrary to some of the accusations below I make no money directly off  this article and have no personal vendetta against WV . My intentions are solely to provide a critique of widely available information.

I’m a self-employed travel entrepreneur who lives and travels all over the world. If you’d like to learn more about how I do this (without the help of a MLM company), please check out my about page.

Thanks for reading!

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244 Responses to WorldVentures: This is NOT the Way to Travel the World

  1. Chris October 6, 2013 at 10:24 PM #

    I joined WV as a result of a merger with NUMIS. Did no research and went gangbusters. I have never met a person who has ever failed in network marketing. But WV falsely advertises prices. I left after trying to book a few of their dreams trips. The cost not including taxes is any where between 109 to 300% higher than what they advertise with a fee they add prior to paying.
    Not a single dream trip costs what they show. Go ahead WV people. Try it

  2. Angie October 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM #

    Why do they trick people who don’t have a job into giving them their SSN. What will happen if the person who said they will pay fee for him, stop paying them. How do you get out of the Game.

  3. Lim October 8, 2013 at 6:28 AM #

    After doing a search on Google, I found World Venture’s 2012 Income Disclosure Statement at this URL: http://gs1.wpc.edgecastcdn.net/80289E/media/1/PDF/unitedstates_us/incomedisclosure_us.pdf

    Basically, 80% of the Independent Representatives (IRs) did not earn anything. Out of the remaining 20% that made money, only around 0.1% of the IRs earned over $44,000.

    The promises and dreams made on those videos simply do not match the numbers presented. I would be keen to know if anyone from World Ventures is willing to refute those numbers presented in the above document.

  4. samantha daley October 9, 2013 at 2:14 AM #

    I won’t lie, I joined this company for about 6 months. i paid my fees and became a member, however i never did get 4 people under me so i payed the monthly fee, If i would have put in effort i would have manged to get free monthly but i joined out of curiosity.
    This company is actually legit and I did go on their 69 dollars cruise which was amazing, not to mentioned round trip ticket from canada to miami for about 210 dollars with taxes through them. Yes I did pay my fee and monthly fee, but all the trips i got through them (jamaica, costa rica, miami, bahamas) was more than i could have ever afforded on my reception job in 5 years – yes as a receptionist i could afford these trips all in the 6 months.

    So yes not every company in the world is a scheme. This works like costco, you buy a membership pay a fee a year and get rewards plus extras if u can get friends to join as well. I would gladly continue this company once i end up in a better position and am more willing to put effort into getting members to waive the monthly fee. My friend continued this and i wont lie, i wish i had like she did because she gets paid enough to do it as her full time job.
    This company is worth it as long as you put in the effort to get 4 members below you, than you don’t have to work on it ever, or u can from time to time or you can be crazy and do this 24/7. Either way you can’t judge companies based on assumptions. i mean banks are worse and yet people use them.

    In your comment, reps don’t make money until they recruit 30 people or more. No that’s not the case here, all you need is 4 and your good. you pay no money but you also don’t make lot’s of money unless your 4 get 4. But either way even if you only ever get 4 people. that’s all you need because your savings from joining them for traveling is upwards of 60 – 95% off. Its a great company if you just want a discount but don’t want to put too much effort into it, who knows maybe the rep you get will do all the work for you.

    MLM does work, but if you want money you do need to put in effort like a real job, it’s not something you can just say oh yeah ill become rich like that. no you are an idiot you need o work hard like a regular human being.

    Don’t judge companies over something so trivial. it’s stupid and you are really missing out.

    • Chris October 9, 2013 at 6:35 AM #

      I am a member and I believe Rovia gets you great deals but the dreamstrips are not what they advertise it to be. I have gone and booked several of them and they end up being 100 to 300% higher than advertised wit hthe fee that’s added. when talking to customer support, it is what they charge to administer it. $113 cruise ended up being $560 or $780 (double occupancy). they also do not mention that the price for most of them is per person but requires double occupancy. go ahead, book one. I deal with facts.

  5. michael October 9, 2013 at 11:52 PM #

    The best thing you can ever think of doing is network marketing if only you understand how it work. I think there is nothing wrong with doing business with world venture bcos they have product call TRAVEL. Just like forever living product that have variety of products. I love MLM.

  6. michael October 9, 2013 at 11:58 PM #

    I love MLM

  7. Veronica October 10, 2013 at 1:31 AM #

    its so funny how anyone who know nothing about MLM company and not to mention worldventures would’ve write something so detailed about it (Considering you would spend a lot of time learning even the lineage and binary thingy). Here is the thing, to be as an entrepreneur and financial analyst, i think worldventures is just offering an opportunity, some will get it some wont, just like opening up a restaurant, not everyone succeed and earning tons of money??Most people dont, but does it stop people into getting in restaurant business?

    And basically the world is not a fair place, the percentage of rich people is only 2%. So not everyone gonna make it, or else everyone would be a conglomerate

    • Kent October 10, 2013 at 2:20 AM #

      I know a lot about MLM. I’ve read WV’s income disclosure. 80% made nothing. An additional 15% made next to nothing. The median annual income of the 20% that earned money was $40. You can attempt to spin lineage, binaries, balancing legs, etc. into magic, but those of us who are not brainwashed or brain dead can see that you’re stark naked. Yes, not everyone will make it in WV, and right now about .1% are making it.
      WorldVentures Income Disclosure: http://goo.gl/iPPuvb

  8. Harlock October 10, 2013 at 6:56 AM #

    I would like to write my personal experience for this Pyramid.

    I live in a Country with huge recession (Greece).

    From the begging of 2013 WV started to operate here. One poor friend of mine told me that all of his dreams can be really through this company.

    I tried to stop him but it was impossible, he had been brainwashed…

    He ended up loosing money and time.

    So i would like to state that the most unethical things for these fraudsters is that they promise money to poor people, if you are desperate you hold in everything gives you hope.

    I hope all the masterminds behind this fraud rot in jail.

  9. Steph October 10, 2013 at 2:27 PM #

    After reading through a slew of comments from people who clearly didn’t read this article, and are mainly interested in promoting their own agenda and arguing with each other, I’ve made the decision to close the comments on this post. I stand behind what I’ve written, but I’m a professional, and it’s not a good use of my time to monitor and deal with these comments. Pretty much every point of view is already represented below, so I suggest you read on for alternate opinions.

    You may not appreciate this decision, but it’s my blog, my rules. My post on Worldventures is just a tiny fraction of what this website is about. Contrary to some of the accusations below I make no money off of this article and have no personal vendetta against WV . My intentions are solely to provide a critique of widely available information.

    I’m a self-employed travel entrepreneur who lives and travels all over the world. If you’d like to learn more about how I do this (without the help of a MLM company), please check out my about page.

    Thanks for reading!

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