Turning Passion Into Profit - How I started a travel business

Last updated 
March 31, 2020 
by Ashley Ellefsen

My name’s Ashley. And, this is a short story about how I turned my passion for travel into a profitable business!

In January of 2019 I was approached by a man whom I consider to be one of the most brilliant marketers I’ve ever met.  Gordon and I worked together in a previous company (and an entirely different industry altogether), for over a decade.  My interaction with him there was limited but I always admired his ability to connect with people. He’s animated and passionate and can immediately pull you into an experience by simply telling a story. He’s the kind of person you want to be around!

Well, at this time Gordon was looking for someone to help get a television show off the ground.  A travel show called, Off the Beaten Path.

I immediately said yes! If I’ve learned one thing over the years it’s to take every opportunity, especially when there’s a “cool factor” involved. For me, this was dripping with cool…Gordon, television, travel…what was there to say no to?

So, over the next year we worked to launch One88 Media, a boutique media company based in Salt Lake City.  We also did a complete refresh on Gordon’s brand, filmed all over the world and finally launched a pilot for the show in January 2020 during Sundance Film Festival.

I initially began on the team as Production Manager but over time, my role began to also included a little work in front of the camera as well.

10 months into this project, I received a call from another good friend of mine about an opportunity to partner with a new company, offering a brand new travel tech platform.

This friend, Eric, is someone I trust. He’s just a good, salt-of-the-earth kinda guy. He and his lovely wife Heidi live in Wisconsin and I know them because they ran an extremely successful supplement and personal care business for years and years! So, when people like this call you, and bring opportunity to you.  You listen.

This is where things get interesting. You see, I believe that if you are passionate about something and are open to exploring possibilities that bring more of that passion into your life, then the universe is going to open doors.

Now, I’ve been in business for myself for years and have also been a part of multiple start-ups.  I realize there is some real work involved when you start something new (that day-to-day grinding kinda work). But, I’m down for that because I also know that if you are in the front, you’ll eventually be on top. 

After doing some due diligence on this new opportunity - I decided to go for it! The travel bug bit me once with the show and it was now biting me again with this new travel tech opportunity.

Here’s why….

  • I wanted to travel more with my husband and family.
  • I wanted to create another stream of income.
  • I wanted to save money when we traveled.
  • I know that when I have a business and intend to make a profit, I open up a lot of tax incentives (and when that business is travel based, I can write off travel)!

So, this all added up to basically being my dream job…..and who doesn’t want their actual dream job?!

Travel the world. Eat. Drink. Explore. Meet people. Yes please!

Talk about it. Write about it. Make videos about it. Yes please!

As I got started and I was diving into some research, I learned a couple really interesting things about the travel industry that I didn’t know before.   For example, did you know that travel is the biggest industry in world? $8.7+ trillion a year to be exact.

And, did you know that there are only TWO corporations that own the over 50+ major online booking sites? That’s right. So, when you’re on one site making a travel booking and it says something like, “Hold on while we compare prices on this other site.”… that’s them comparing their own pricing and driving up demand, all the while totally manipulating the purchase decision of the consumer (YOU!).  Crazy right?! I had no idea either.

Big corporations, not exactly being ethical or transparent in their practices…not shocking but it does make me feel a little taken advantage of.

But this is the kind of information that’s critical when making a judgement about whether or not to get into an industry. How does a company or affiliate of a company make even a ripple in what seems like an ocean?

Well, the answer is disruption. A major disruption has to take place in order to make a dent.

So, here it is the silver bullet….the doorway to disrupting the travel industry…a loop hole.

The travel industry regulations have always restricted anyone who is not a licensed travel agent from making a commission on the booking of travel.   Meaning, up until now, to make money in the industry you had to be a licensed agent.

The loophole is this: What if instead of paying a commission on what a customer spends (for the travel booking), they paid a commission on what a customer saves?

Cue the heavens opening, the sun  shining down and a chorus of angels singing.

But wait, how does that work? How do you pay on a savings?

Well, the company did something completely unheard of.

Completely disruptive.

First, they purchased an existing travel agency: Xstream Travel.

Xstream Travel has been in the industry for 20+ years, with an infrastructure (customer service and tech platform), knowledge base (how to negotiate travel blocks), and staff (licensed, recognized, and accredited).

Second, they rebranded the forward facing platform of Xstream as iGo, then they locked down the site so that the only way you can access the amazing deals is through a private invite from an affiliate, and finally they put in place the technology that allowed them to track bookings and pay affiliates for referrals.

So, here’s what this looks like:

iGo negotiates incredible travel deals AND has very little overhead marketing costs (compared to the other large 3rd party sites). They pass those savings on to customers and affiliates.

An affiliate has access to a certain amount of invitations and gives them out to friends, family, co-workers, neighbors….any travel-loving human being they wish. The invitation is then activated when this person creates a FREE account. Then, this person has access to the iGo travel club for life….(did I mention....for FREE?). 

Every time this person makes a travel purchase through the site and saves money, the affiliate who referred them earns! The affiliate actually earns 50% of what the customer saves!!!

We know that the average American family saves $600 on their travel plans when they book on iGo vs. a competitor site. When that average family saves $600, the affiliate makes $300. Not a bad commission for simply helping someone else SAVE money.

It’s a true win-win.

The customer is happy because they saved $600.

The affiliate is happy because they made $300.

Now, I’ve talked to a lot of people about this...and this is always where people have a hard time wrapping their mind around someone making money on savings? 

So, I’ve tried to create some images to help….click through the images below for a visual representation on how this works.

Now, the customers (who joined for FREE) are saving up to 35% off what they would have found on other sites (that’s really excellent!).

As in any travel booking instance, you’ll usually find the best deals when you can be a flexible traveler. Where you choose to stay and travel dates, are going to be the biggest factors!

We won’t ALWAYS beat the other prices, but I think it’s certainly worth checking out. The company does have 110% price guarantee that you can also take advantage of!

Here are some travel saving examples….

But wait….there’s more!!!

The company also has a pretty killer customer rewards program! Every booking will earn you points which can be redeemed for future travel credits or gift certificates (10 pts.= $1)! I mean c’mon people!! Why would you not want in on this?!

If you want to save on your travel and be a FREE customer, click >HERE<, and I’ll send you an invitation to join today!

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can EARN while you help others SAVE as an affiliate (like me!), click >HERE< to watch a short interactive video!

Because I believe in 100% complete transparency, I want to tell you this….

There is a cost of business associated with being an affiliate.  Just like any business you would start, there are up-front costs and there are monthly costs.  The good news is that you can start this business with as little as $49 to start and $99/mo.

If you’ve ever been a small business owner, I think you would agree that this is a nominal startup cost!

You’re a ROCKSTAR for reading to the end! Leave me a comment or click the image below to be redirected to my Work With Me page if you want to get in touch!

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Hey there!
I’m Ashley...'American Made' because I was born in the incredible US of A and proudly raised in a military family. I’ve enjoyed living and traveling around the world since I was a child. I’ve explored over two dozen countries and always have a bag packed, ready for my next adventure!
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