Are you being recruited to join WorldVentures as an affiliate or member? Have you heard it called a scam or pyramid scheme? Read our WorldVentures review to learn everything you need to know about the company, its leaders, its products, and your income potential.
Revenue: $926 million (2016)
Industry: Travel, Multi-Level Marketing
Employees: +500,000 members (unconfirmed)
- Wayne Nugent – Co-Founder and Chief Visionary Officer
- Mike Azcue – Co-Founder and Former CEO
- Dan Stammen – Co-Owner and Chief of Business Development (Former CEO)
- Josh Paine – Chief Executive Officer
- Eddie Head – President and Chief Strategy Officer
- Paul Jenkins – Chief Technology Officer
- Sophia Stoller – Vice President of Communications
- Kathy McBrayer – Chief People Officer
- Gregg Stephenson – Compliance Director
History of WorldVentures
In 2005, WorldVentures was founded by Mike Azcue and Wayne Nugent, two multi-level marketing industry veterans who believed they could build the “Mary Kay of travel.” Their dream was made much more attainable when MLM behemoth and WorldVentures competitor YTB International went through a series of investigations and lawsuits from 2006-2009, ultimately bankrupting the company after they were found to be operating a pyramid scheme and engaging in deceptive marketing. This opened the door for WorldVentures as the company grew from $15 million in revenue in 2006 to $90 million in 2009. This success prompted Ernst & Young to nominate Wayne Nugent as entreprenuer of the year in 2010.
But, as we’ve seem with the vast majority of MLMs, success is usually short-lived due to the excessively high turnover rates that the industry experiences with distributors. In 2014, WorldVentures was sued by the Norwegian government, was designated a pyramid scheme, and was forced to close operations in the country. In 2016, former top-earning members of the company filed multiple lawsuits against the company, alleging that the company terminated their contracts in order to funnel their commissions to the executive team. In 2017, founder Wayne Nugent was rumored to have settled a tax evasion charge and a formal class-action lawsuit being formally brought against the company (details at the bottom of the article).
Amidst the multiple legal disputes, Mike Azcue stepped down from his role as CEO and Josh Paine was introduced as the new chief executive of the company. It’s unclear what role Azcue still has in the company. The company has also failed to disclose its 2017 revenue, an indication that revenue has declined significantly since 2016.
WorldVentures sells a membership that supposedly gives affiliates access to great deals on hotels, activities and day trips, cruises, and car rentals through its website DreamTrips.com in exchange for a “low” monthly fee. In addition, by signing up other members, you can accrue points with which to use on vacation packages. Unfortunately, as former members can attest, it doesn’t quite work with this way.
First, members can only book vacations and locations that are available at specific times, which the company has full control over. This means that your vacation plans have to coincide exactly with when a particular package and location is available or you are out of luck. Second, the points you accrue can not be used before your 1 year anniversary, which means that members have to pay a monthly fee for 12 months before they can even use their rewards points.
In addition, the company has full control over how many points you use at one time, so you aren’t able to stockpile points and spend on one large vacation package. Finally, many WorldVentures customers have complained that their commissions, which are stored in the company’s “e-wallet” system, are inaccessible and nontransferable, meaning that many members are not getting paid what they are owed. None of these facts are readily disclosed by the company and has led to many complaints and demands for refunds by affiliates.
Another revelation brought to light by the class-action lawsuit filed in 2017 is that the company does not own any travel deals but rather aggregates them from other places and then adds their own fees on top. This means that members can easily find equivalent packages for much cheaper from aggregator sites like Groupon and Expedia. The company also misrepresents packages to include airfare when the vast majority due not, which significantly underestimates the actual cost of packages for members.
WorldVentures Compensation Plan
To understand the potential business opportunity, you have to examine the WorldVentures Compensation Plan. The first thing you should notice is that the document does not include any real dollar amounts for commissions and bonuses. This should be a red flag for anyone looking to sign up with the company. What we can glean from the compensation plan is that there is a combination of commissions that can be generated by direct product sales as well as recruiting others into your down-line (the classic sign of a multi-level marketing company). If you don’t know what kind of money you will be making when signing up for a business venture, it should be a red flag.
What we do know about the membership structure is that affiliates must pay an initial $99.99 signup fee and an additional $24.99 monthly fee for the base package. Gold memberships cost $199.99 to start and $49.99 each month, and Platinum memberships cost $299.99 to start and $99 each month.
WorldVentures Income Disclosure Statement
WorldVentures’ Income Disclosure Statement reveals that 80% of affiliates do not make any annual commission, and that the top 99% of affiliates make less than $2,000 (before expenses) for the entire year. Given this information, which has been provided by the company itself, do you see any reasonable chance for you to make money if you join?
Another important aspect to consider when joining an MLM is customer satisfaction. A quick glance at the Better Business Bureau page for WorldVentures shows an alarming amount of customer complaints which stem from misleading advertising about the product; the company back-tracking on promises of refunds; and an ability to get any help with issues regarding booking packages. Overall, the complaints show a clear pattern of the company, and its affiliates, lying about the benefits of becoming a member.
- In 2014, WorldVentures was banned in Norway after the government successfully sued the company for being a pyramid scheme.
- In 2016, Myron Wick and Virginia Walker, former high-ranking members of WorldVentures, sued the company for breech of contract after alleging that the company failed to pay commissions that they had earned.
- In 2016, former member Randy Ostrom sued WorldVentures for breech of contract but was denied any settlement during arbitration. After arbitration, it was discovered that the arbitrator has significant ties to WorldVentures and its law firm.
- In 2017, a RICO class-action lawsuit was brought against the company alleging that the company is simply a pyramid scheme where members average annual losses of $1,000.