Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How do you achieve credibility for your internet business?

So you have paid your money to whomever it is that has told you that you can get rich sleeping if you market and sell their product or services. You have gotten yourself a website and an URL with an interesting sounding name that differentiates you from the tens of thousands that are also selling the product and services, you were provided with, had someone make you an impressive website or built it yourself with all kinds of interesting information about the products you are selling and an e-commerce page that allows people to buy your products on line!

Now what.

Nobody is visiting your website let alone buying your products. So you start working on promoting your website in an effort to generate traffic. You start placing free classified ads or even paid ads in various internet publications such as, Craig’s lists, Add-post, Lycos .com,,, Google base and so forth and so on.

You go to your website stats every day and still there is barely a noticeable trickle of visitors to your site.

You have already printed business cards, postcards and brochures at considerable cost courtesy of and have distributed them in the small town that you live in and have gone around your neighborhood, the golf club, the beauty parlors and put postcards promoting your internet business in every mailbox that you could find. You have spent a ton of money on print cartridges and glossy paper for your brochures.

You keep checking your visitors stats and be damned if you could find any increase in traffic of visitors to your website not to mention anyone buying anything from you.

What to do next?

You scour the internet for advice, watch hundreds of video’s that are all bait and switch schemes that promise the world and deliver very little, you try some of those get rich quick marketing schemes that do not work, throw more money away, send e-mails with promotional materials, including video’s, to whomever you can find in your outlook address book.

Make a ton of videos that you then upload to YouTube, Google, Yahoo, Mydeo, My Space, WAYN, Face Book, because the entire community of Guru’s tell you that it will increase your rankings on the search engines. This is only partially true with regard to your rankings in the video search pages but does not really help you with your rankings on the regular search pages.

And still barely anything happens to your daily visitors statistics.
So there must be something else that is required.

And of you go setting up your own blogs on subjects related to your business, commenting on other peoples blogs that are relevant to the business. Writing articles on and more commenting on other articles relevant to you business.
You join Adsense, put a Google search bar and Adsense ads on your website go to Commission Junction and get RSS feeds to earn commissions on their ads; all this in the hope that the cross polinization will drive traffic to your site. You get an XML site map for your sites, upload them to your site, register them with Google and Yahoo and get verified.

Surely you have done a fair amount with all of the above to get your sites noticed. I have had various refereed articles published in my name, that people are using to promote their websites such as, Strategic Finance, All Business and so on, I am not sure if they are successful, but these entries have been there for four years, so that must mean something. All you have to do is Google or Yahoo search “bou van kuyk” (my name) and at least Five to ten entries show up promoting the big name companies mentioned above, including my own three websites, but then who will ever look for a name like that unless they already know me?

Yet traffic to my websites remains anemic and I wonder what it is that I have to do next! Or what it is that prevents people from taking me serious.

I am good looking, have an honest face, am responsible, get my customers great value products, got a privacy statement on my website, have a published Toll free number, various IM buttons by which they can contact me thru Yahoo or MSN with a simple click, am approved/certified by Pay pal, have opened business accounts for each of my businesses so as to not commingle funds, so what is stopping people from making purchases on my website?

Although this sounds like an excuse, and I certainly have not thrown in the towel yet, but some of the reasons may be readily available.

First, I believe that the internet is riddled with no name scammers, MLM’ers and people that imitate big name companies to extract money from honest unsuspecting people, selling them stuff that does not really exist, who have been burned so many times that they have become gun-shy and are reluctant to part with their money to anyone that cannot positively verify that they are part of a well known chain.

The worst of these products and services are subscription based and typically start with a free trial period. The subscription kicks in automatically after the trail period and is invariably under $30 ($29.99) per month and non refundable. The trick here then is to make the cancellation method as cumbersome as possible, hoping that the customer forgets or gives up on trying to cancel it before the trial is over. At least one monthly subscription kicks in for an amount that is low enough for the customer not to sue to get it refunded and to let it go or write it off as a lesson learned.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me! This person will think twice before he or she enters into a transaction on the internet again and there are millions of them.

Secondly, the fact that any person who joins an MLM and is not one of the first to join, like number 98,996, will find it extremely difficult to make money without spending an inordinate a mount of time and money to get traction. So it is important to pick a business that does not depend on MLM to make money, unless you are one of the firsts to join.

Although I have been unsuccessful to date, I firmly believe that the YTB proposition of offering people and corporations their own website to book travel and receive commissions is a good one.

It is unfortunate that the MLM part is so widely publicized as the real money maker, which I believe it is not, except for the very few who came in at the top. It is merely a strategy to increase travel bookings under the YTB banner by the masses and so increase market share for YTB in sales of travel.

Most individuals that spend less than $6000 per year in travel should not own their own website, although of course any amount of travel that they book on their own website, no matter how small, counts toward sales of travel by YTB thus growing the company and increasing its market share.

The minimal amount of travel booked by these small owners, compared to the amount they spend for maintaining a YTB website has also skewed YTB’s earnings. YTB earns more from selling and hosting portals/websites than from selling Travel.

However the notion of taking out the middleman and offering the traveler the opportunity to be the travel agent instead is pure genius.

The traveler/corporation now has the opportunity to benefit from the commissions that the traditional middle man receives and lower their travel expenses with those commissions.

Additionally by becoming the middleman/travel agent, YTB offers its site owners the opportunity to be in charge of their travel arrangements. The site owner/traveler has full and direct access to the travel operators and as such has access to benefits that are not available to the ordinary traveler.

So I am convinced that I picked the right business model, but would like to only sell travel the “honorable way” by targeting people/corporations who can truly benefit/make a profit from having a turnkey secure hosted travel website and therefore by definition will buy at least $6000 per year in travel. I do this by openly publishing the one time set up costs of $450 and the monthly maintenance/hosting/ Liability insurance fee of $50 up front, which by the way may be the other reason why nobody comes to my site, perhaps I should hide the real costs just like everyone else!
That is the way to a win/win proposition, I make money from their travel, they save money on their travel and YTB increases market share in the travel business instead of the Website hosting business.

So I have not really been able to provide the answer to my original question. And I would be greatly appreciative for any helpful hints from fellow strugglers.

Having said all that, I invite anyone to comment on my observation of how to get noticed on the internet and to be taken seriously and my observations about YTB, MLM and Scammers.

As Featured On Ezine Articles


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Turnkey, Secure, Hosted, Corporate, Travel Portals

It is extraordinary, that there is so much noise surrounding safe travel! It almost sounds like the irrational noise surrounding outsourcing and off-shoring.

All of this stems from the fact that it is no longer necessary to obtain referees that will corroborate an experience or statement as credible nor produce facts that bear out the statements that are made.

Most travel around the world (99%) is perfectly safe if you exclude war zones, ghettos, slums.

Or put it another way most travel today is as dangerous as it was 30 years ago in fact it is probably a lot safer as there is much more regulation, oversight and high tech involved in the experience.

The question now is where can you get the best deal for your buck without slumming it. The answer to that lies in the various facilities that are currently available to small businesses to buy travel at reasonable prices.

In fact Turnkey, Secure Corporate Travel Portals give you the security and control over your businesses travel spend without slumming it.

These solutions give you unique access to the finer aspects of travel without having to pay through the nose for it!

At they offer these turnkey, secure hosted corporate websites for a mere $450 one time set up fee and a $50 monthly fee for 24/7 Traveler's support (800 number), site maintenance and liability insurance.

In exchange for that you get a Travelocity like corporate travel portal with your logo and all, that will allow you to book your corporate travel at very competitive rates and the privilege to earn 6% on every dollar your company spends on travel.

Additionally the Corporation gets access to the travel industry as an insider and can access most of the travel providers directly as a travel agent. This will come in very handy if you would like to organize client events or employee outings and so forth. The ability to contact the provider directly and obtain group discounts is enviable.

The solution provided at is particularly suited for small partnerships, sole proprietors, even frequent travelers.

The solution breaks even at $6000 travel spend per year.

For more information visit

Friday, November 23, 2007

YTB a Game Changer

Happy Thanksgiving

If you eliminate the MLM part, which I abhor , the concept of eliminating the middleman by becoming the middleman is quite inventive and must by definition bring down the cost of travel for those that dicide to buy the travel from themselves instead of that middleman.

If cleverly, and by that I do not mean sly or dishonest, executed and focused on the customer, I believe this is a wonderful opportunity to have fun and make some money at the same time.

I believe this model is a game-changer in the long run, just like the original Travelocities of this world. And will bring prices down if only initially by getting cash back. It does run the risk that everyone reduces prices and then the game is up and then the only differentiator that remains will be personal superior customer service.

What the internet has typically done in most instances has been to eliminate middlemen who did not bring any value to the value chain of a product and consequently did not deserve to be paid anything.Travelocity, Expadia and all these search engines have an advantage (value added) over the carriers and hotels in that they scour a huge database of hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotels over a particular route/destination and create the impression that the customer was offered best deal to be found.In reality the Airlines' and Hotels' own portals often offer cheaper fares and rates than the search engines. But using the General Travel Portals saves the traveler the time it would have taken him/her to go from Carrier to Carier and Hotel to Hotel and thus add value.

I know Travelocity and et al now also offer excellent 800 service to their VIP customers and thus add value there, but then so does everyone else nowadays even FRED!

So THE benefit YTB offers over the competition is the OWNERSHIP of the travel portal for an Individual, Small Corporation, Sole Proprietor, Organization, Church, Wanna Be Travel agent, Like myself.Provided they do the math and reach a break-even point of over $6K in travel spend and it is a healthy blend of travel (not just airline tickets), the value proposition makes economic sense and is a good one that is offered by no one else.

Above is a link that I am sure you are already aware of that shows that the trend to online booking is unstoppable.

YTB if operated responsibly would add another twist to this online trend.It is a little like Netflix versus Blockbuster. Blockbuster never really recovered..

YTB Breaking the MOlD cont'd?

Remember NetFlix? Read on.

As I said yesterday, Breaking the MOLD is not easy!

TRAVEL WEEKLY (11/20/2007)Club 33:

The most influential people in the travel industry "Travel Weekly's list of the 33 most influential people in travel is notpopulated by folks with fancy titles who pull the right strings and make the industry behave as it should.
It's not about that sort of influence. It's filled with people who, often working in isolation, had ideas thatveered from the status quo and succeeded so spectacularly that theindustry jumped out of its rut and followed. They're the ones who, when they set their own agendas, set ours as well.

We didn't give people much credit for their great deeds of yesteryear.If they're on this list today, it's because they've influenced thecourse travel is taking in 2007, and we think they'll be just as influential in 2008.

Kim Sorensen, CEO, YTB Travel Network

Sorensen went, in a matter of weeks, from a virtual unknown in the industry to its favorite target for vitriol (from traditional travelagents and some suppliers) or admiration (from his tens of thousands of referring agents and, behind closed doors, some suppliers). He hasdemonstrated some grace under fire, admitting his organization is stillmaturing, and we suspect that he and YTB will be around for many years, all parties to examine what constitutes a legitimate seller of travel and challenging suppliers to assess how, and with whom, they wish to do business."

It Is Not Easy to break the Mold!

YTB Braking the MOLD?

I agree with many of the of the editorial comments that are posted on

Most peole join YTB for the perks and the MLM opportunity (although that is a lot harder than many of them realize) and invariably have no idea or intention of selling travel.

But why this clearly defensive posture by the Travel Establishment? Are they afraid of something? They all survived the onslaught of the big dog travel portals like Travelocity, Expedia etc. This is just a new twist to it, a different marketing ploy.

Is YTB growing faster than they would like? Has it put even more pressure on the margins? Isn't that what all new business models tend to do?

Are they defensive because YTB, by giving perks, attempts to put some fun and glamour back into the drab travel experience of the ordinary traveler? The drab experience caused by years of poor management by organizations like IATA And ALL? I have not used a travel agent since 1996, for most of my travel I used Travelocity or the vendors websites.

Even when I used a travel agency I had to advise the agent about routing to get better deals. So how much more did they know about the business than the everage YTB'er?I think the only people who still use Travel Agents like AMEX or Wagon Lits are the hughe blue chip corporations who have a hard time changing.

The money and fun in this business is in the all in and group travel opportunities headed by the Cruise Lines and Las Vegas.Who wants to sell Airline tickets or car rentals?

I hate MLM but I love the Travel Business. I focus on getting my customers the best travel deals. I use my knowledge to scour the industry, so they do not have to, and find them value for money that they would never be able to find on their own. I do have a Toll Free phone number and a street address on my website. I do encourage my customers to call me if they are uncomfortable with the web or do not have the time. That is better service than they can get from Travelocity or Expedia.

To focus on the MLM part and its shortcomoings would be the wrong way of looking at YTB. YTB should be looked at as a high growth business model, with all its imperfections, warts and all. The quickest way to grow a travel, any, business in a start up mode is to do it exactly the way YTB is doing it right now. The growth rates bear that out. The MLM model and the perks are there to stimulate a growth rate that would not be attainable in any other way.

That is probaly not the way it will evolve in the long run and the market forces will make adjustments to the model in a more mature state. The focus will probably shift from selling portals to selling travel.

The model definitely makes sense for individual travelers that spend over $6K in travel per year. As well as for small companies such as sole proprietors like CPA, consulting and engineering professionals. Also Churches and Organizations will benefit from this model.
All this is to come.

As for the short run,

Who cares if some members carry credentials that they do not really deserve! The Companies who honor those credentials ar at fault. One does not give people privileges because of their pretty eyes do they? Can the vendors not tell if the person is a travel agent with impressive turnover? Are the systems of the traditional travel world so antiquated that they do not capture this kind of information? Shame on them!

Although it seems unlikely that the holder of an Iatan card is not at least a very frequent traveller, given the rules of obtaining one at YTB.I am sure that all these things will sort themselves out. All the upheavel in the recent weeks will not go unnoticed and no doubt YTB will have to make corrections in midstream.

Drivel about share movements clearly shows ignorance of the behaviour of the stockmarkets and has nothing fundamentally to do with a companies performance.

In any case I am confident that YTB management will stay away from any knee jerk reactions and set the ship back on its course.

I am certain that the vigour with which the establishments are attacking YTB is a sign that YTB is a force to be reckoned with in its quest to make travel even more affordable to the individual traveler and simultaneously make the all too drab experience of travel a littlemore glamorous and fun. Because that is what this is ultimately all about.