The Payline

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Reeling in ... The Payline
Listen to the "Let's Talk" Interview

By Robert Ricker / MLM World News Today / March 6, 2001

Excerpts of the MLMWNT “Let’s Talk” Forum 3/3/01 Click on Payline

San Diego, CA -- Brian Booth, Director of Customer Relations for the, smiles when he tells the story of his “Sunday Project.”

“It was the code name for a think tank created by a group of friends with full-time jobs,” Booth says. “We came together to talk about some rapidly growing companies that ran into some bumps in the road and analyzed how they could have changed to become more successful.”

Writing on the walls of their “think tank” with giant markers, the group of friends determined that travel was the hottest online industry at the moment. They designed a program that eliminated the high out-of-pocket cost of airline travel by creating a revolutionary referral- based Air Travel Rewards program, and allowed members to earn spending money by referring new members. They then named their project The Payline, an online travel club.

Since its January launch, The Payline has attracted over 250,000 new members. Far more than Booth and his friends could ever have imagined would enroll in the club. “We were expecting 5000 new members a week,” said Booth, “not 5000 per day.”

Booth and his friends returned to their “think tank” to devise a new strategy that would help them maintain control of the company without impeding its growth. Partners were sought who had an existing infrastructure

capable of handling the high volume of traffic. Also partners that were interested in keeping the same theme and philosophy of the company while enhancing the membership value.

On February 15, 2001, FitnessAge, Inc., a technology services company in the lifestyle industry agreed to acquire The Payline.

“As excited as we were to see the company growing, we were overwhelmed with managing the large and growing amount of members,” said Booth. “With FitnessAge, Inc., we can deliver on our objective to create the world’s best travel and lifestyle club that will benefit each and every member.”

FitnessAge, Inc., President and CEO, Ross Lyndon-James explained, “The original design of the Payline program presented from the FitnessAge point of view, some real challenges. From both the economic side of it and from the regulatory side of it.” Lyndon-James continued, “We have been very involved in the economic modeling, the business forecasting, and making sure there is compliance with regulations so that the program doesn’t run afoul of any statutory authorities.”

Many industry veterans have analyzed the Payline program and said “it is too good to be true.” They have questioned the Miles Reward Program and searched for airlines affiliated with the Payline. One MLM Watchdog site, World Wide Scam reported, “The closest we've gotten to an answer is that The Payline works with numerous travel agencies.”

“As most people know with the mileage system that is used by most airlines, the use of miles for free travel is restricted to the day and the time you want to travel,” said Lyndon-James, “most flights only release a certain number of seats for mileage use. Often people find they have a large number of miles that they can’t apply when they want to.”

“What the Payline has done,” continued Lyndon-James, “is taken the Miles Reward Program and designed it so that people can get on any airline, anywhere, at any time and they are not limited to the number of seats per flight. There are going to be conditions in terms of the activation of miles…which will be announced later out of fairness to Payline members.”

The Payline’s Cash Rewards Program was crushed by the company’s rapid growth. Lyndon-James didn’t hesitate to say, “The way the Payline was originally designed was a very exciting program. But it needs some modification so that it can be a sustainable business and also operate within the regulations. We have come up with a very exciting outcome which we will announce to members before the site goes live.”

“We don’t want anyone sending any money to us until everything is on the site and everyone has had a chance to thoroughly review how the program will work,” said Lyndon-James.

The company is trying to cater to both the majority of Payline members that join for the Airline Miles and those that join to build a large business opportunity. Intent on enhancing the membership value by providing tangible benefits that relate to lifestyle, The Payline is designing a program that takes care of people.

Part 2 of this series will report on the FitnessAge product. A database of over 60,000 individuals used to calculate fitness results in years, not percentages.