TORONTO – Is a new travel dating website the next step in online matchmaking, or virtual prostitution?
Wade also created WhatsYourPrice.com and SeekingArrangement.com and was inspired by results from surveys he conducted on these websites. He found over 74 per cent of people said they would travel to meet somebody they “really liked,” and concluded that people who love to travel are an untapped market when it comes to dating and romance.
But some of the language used on Miss Travel, as well as the dating protocol, is raising eyebrows.
Users sign up with an email address just like other online dating sites, but categorize themselves as either Attractive Travelers or Generous Travelers.
It’s notable that there is no rating process so anyone can sign up as an “Attractive” member. Wade believes that as a result, the site is bringing in people with higher self-esteem who are confident about their looks.
Attractive Travelers use the site for free and look for Generous members who will pay for them to travel or gift them frequent flyer miles. Generous Travelers are willing to pay for all travel expenses to take a trip with a “beautiful companion” whether that takes place in either person’s hometown or a new destination.
MISS TRAVEL FAST FACTS
*Website went live April 9, 2012
The site makes money by charging Generous Travelers to communicate with Attractive Travelers. This happens through the purchase of credits to “unlock communication” so Generous members can speak, chat or email with Attractive members who accept their offers.
Wade admits there has been some social media backlash to the idea of people (typically men) with lots of money paying for beautiful people (typically women) to travel with them, likening the site to prostitution or an escort service.
“You mention the word beautiful and you mention the word generous or wealthy, and all of a sudden you’re going to alienate a certain set of the population who do not feel that they are beautiful or attractive or wealthy,” says Wade.
“I’m actually very disappointed that every time I hear if one party is being generous and pays for the other, then all of a sudden, it’s painted as prostitution controversy,” he says. “But in this case no money is exchanged.”
Another concern is the safety of traveling to meet someone you’ve met online.
Wade says that educating members is the best defence against risk, and points to the travel advice and safety tip section of the website.
“We’re going to be introducing tools to allow people to do background checks, but even so, there are always gaps and holes that people can get around,” says Wade. “If a member so chooses, he or she could pay with somebody else’s credit card, for instance, and never reveal who they really are.
“The best bet is still to use your common sense and take it that trust needs to be earned and not given … if you want to spend a few days or even a few weeks with somebody together in a foreign place, just be very, very careful.”
Tips include giving your family/friends a copy of the passport and phone number of a member you are traveling with or visiting, making sure you have enough money to return home safely, and performing your own background checks on people you meet on Miss Travel.
SOUND OFF: In a world where having met your spouse online is thought to be more than twice as common as having met in person at a club or social event, do you think travel dating is the next step in Internet matchmaking? Do you think Miss Travel is any riskier than other online dating sites? Share your thoughts with Global News on Facebook.