GARLAND, Texas -- Travel Navigator here became the latest outside
agent network to rethink its direction after disappointing results.
The company is changing direction as it faces cash-flow problems
and complaints by a number of outside agents, who say they have not
been paid their commissions for several months.
According to the Texas Attorney General's Office, 32 people have
filed complaints against Travel Navigator.
Julie Loyd, an outside agent for Travel Navigator and owner of
Jules Travel, Denton, Texas, said she is owed $3,301 in commissions
for 26 bookings, mostly from April to July.
Geoff Allen, who operates Star Travel Consultants in Spring,
Texas, said he is owed $9,904 in back commissions.
And Michael Stump and Feng Quin Li, who operate China Jade
Travel in Aurora, Colo., said they wrote Travel Navigator's chief
executive officer, Ken Talbert, and its president, Phil Moss,
seeking to regain $20,712 that they said they invested in the
company's products and shares of stock.
Jeff Folsom, director of investor relations for Travel
Navigator, told Travel Weekly that the company, which is
incorporated as Internext Idea Inc., is facing a cash-flow
"At the present time, we're in a cash-flow situation," he said.
"We expect new funding in the next two to four weeks, and a portion
of this has been earmarked to pay out commissions."
The 3-year-old company compiled a national network of some 3,000
"associates" after promoting itself in the nation's top 25 markets,
according to Folsom.
But it now plans to drop its dependence on its associates, who
are called associate Travel Navigators, said Folsom.
Going forward, the company will concentrate on operations by a
core of 200 full-time outside agents, called senior independent
agents, Folsom said.
He claimed that the financial problems were due to the part-time
status of most of its associates.
"People tend to lose focus in a part-time situation. Most people
don't stick with it," he said.
In deciding to downsize itself, Travel Navigator follows Fort
Lauderdale, Fla.-based Inteletravel, a large outside-agent network
that curbed operations last spring and was reevaluating its
Until recently, outside-agent networks were being hailed by some
travel marketers as the wave of the future.
Travel Navigator was formed in 1996 by buying out an existing
agency with an annual volume of $750,000, Folsom disclosed.
By the fourth quarter of 1997, the agency did $1 million in
revenues, he said, and recorded $7.5 million last year.
With 15 to 20 inside agents and a large Web site, at
www.travnav.com, the agency is expected to top $16 million this
year, he added.
Travel Navigator also is a travel provider for amazon.com and yahoo!travel.
Although the agency will continue to support its associates,
Folsom said -- many of whom paid up to $495 to join -- the company
will downplay that side of the business.
"We've decided to concentrate on the senior independent agents,
many of whom come from existing agencies and have full agent
skills," he said.
Unlike other outside-agent networks, Travel Navigator offers the
senior independents 100% of earned commissions, charging a service
fee of $5 per transaction or $125 per month, whichever is
The company lists a cost of $995 for an Internet tutorial to
join the senior independent group.
In addition, Folsom said the company has plans to set up its own
travel package program, utilizing its senior independent