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Dating, travel, or worse? The truth of Miss Travel

As Internet entrepreneurs search for new profits, the travel sector becomes red hot. But few websites have managed to get the same level of media exposure as Miss Travel did in 2012.

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The idea behind the business is easy enough to understand. Broke, and presumably good looking, women can use the site to hook up with wealthy, and presumably single, men who want travel company. The New York Daily News ran the headline ‘Is Miss Travel website a front for prostitution?’, citing a critic who suggests the site is a “giant window for dishonestly and coercion”.

The founder, dating website entrepreneur  Brandon Wade, says, defending his project, that “escorts are not allowed to use the website. There’s no money exchanged. And there’s no sex discussed on the website at all. So for people to sort of link it or compare it with prostitution is really quite a stretch.”

→RELATED: Users tell their own stories: What we think of Misstravel

Connecting people with the common interest of traveling is always a good idea in itself, that is what websites like Tripadvisor do all the time. And dating online can hardly be described as a shady activity these days. But what if Miss Travel is something else, going beyond the accepted forms of social interaction online?

 

Miss Travel account selection.

To get an idea of what Miss Travel is all about, we registered Angela, 29, a 5″4′ (163 cm) blonde single girl with no children, carrying “a few extra pounds” on her body, who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a social drinker, does not smoke, defines herself as an “attractive female” who wants to go to places like San Francisco, Beijing and Sydney. So far so good.

 

Initially, Miss Travel gives women the choice of two different types of accounts, judging if they are “Generous”, and thus are prepared to pay for their own trips, or if they are “Attractive” and want to travel for free.

After the initial registration is done, a few other alternatives with good looks in focus present themselves. It is possible, Miss Travel claims, for beautiful women to travel for free using the site. One way is obviously to hook up with a partner with a thick wallet who will pay for tickets. The other way is to earn Frequent Flyer Points. This is done by persuading a ‘Travel Sponsor’ to send you Frequent Flyer miles as a gift. Once you have 25,000 miles, “you will qualify to transfer these miles to your Frequent Flyer program with any of the major Airlines, and exchange them for free travel,” Miss Travel states.

Miss Travel Frequent Flyer points.

It is also possible to upgrade one’s account to become a paying customer, with better possibilities to interact with others in exchange.

 

It is a smart business model in a way, in that in connects a row of general interests of the modern human being in one place. Dating is obviously one, traveling another. Spending time with beautiful people is a third. For women, there is also the hunt for flyer miles in order to make it possible to travel for free.

On the negative side, Miss Travel spins hard on the theme of good looks and being “attractive”. Ugly people do not bother, but for perhaps very wealthy males. You could argue that Miss Travel exploits the rush in today’s society towards ever slimmer waists, bigger breasts and competition with outer good looks, leaving a large portion of mankind behind.

But then, doesn’t all dating websites do exactly that? Dating, especially online, is all about pictures and looks, at least until two people get to know themselves better and become a couple. Maybe during a trip. The same goes for the accusation that Miss Travel is a window for prostitution. Of course it can be that, along with any online social media.

 

So what about Angela from Baltimore, Maryland? 24 hours after her registration, she was still waiting to have her profile picture approved by the Miss Travel staff.

And without a picture, no free rides.

 

The editor of the Traveling Reporter works as a business news editor, and is a frequent traveler. When not doing any of that, he spends time on his boat and tries to figure out where to travel next. Two of his top destinations are the Philippines and San Francisco. Email Erik! Follow the Traveling Reporter at Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Chime In, Pinterest, Google+, Weibo, Storify, Facebook, Traveldudes, Myspace.