Within a few days of BehindMLM publishing its last inCruises review, a reader advised the company was gearing up to launch “Membership 2.0” and “Partnership 2.0”.
April 1, 2022 Incruises implemented ‘Membership 2.0″ and your article barely touches on the membership part of Incruises.
The Incruises Partnership is the main focus of your article, but Incruises “Partnership 2.0” is going into effect on September 1, 2022 which will make most of your review inaccurate.
This was odd as I hadn’t come across any mention of these two marketing terms in putting together the August 2022 review.
In any event, I flagged inCruises for a review update. Today we take a look at inCruises’ Membership and Partnership 2.0.
InCruises is still headed up by co-founders Michael Hutchison and Frank J. Codina.
InCruises operates out of Puerto Rico through inGroup International LLC.
InCruises markets a discount travel booking platform. Access is charged at $100 a month.
Each $100 Member payment also rewards 200 Reward Points.
Reward Points can be used on inCruises’ travel booking platform on a 1:1 ratio with USD.
Note that only half of booked travel can be paid with Rewards Points.
InCruises’ Compensation Plan
InCruises’ compensation plan pays on the sale of Memberships.
Members can be referred retail customers or recruited affiliates.
InCruises Affiliate Ranks
There are ten affiliate ranks within inCruises’ compensation plan.
Along with their respective qualification criteria, they are as follows:
- Affiliate – sign up as an inCruises affiliate and pay $95 every 6 months
- Marketing Director – generate and maintain $3000 monthly GV
- Senior Marketing Director – generate and maintain $10,000 monthly GV
- Regional Director – generate and maintain $25,000 monthly GV
- National Director – generate and maintain $50,000 monthly GV
- International Director – generate and maintain $100,000 monthly GV
- Executive Director – generate and maintain $250,000 monthly GV
- Board of Directors – generate and maintain $550,00 monthly GV
- Ambassador Board of Director – generate $1,000,000 in new GV after qualifying as a Board of Directors, and personally recruit at least five International Directors or higher
- Royal Ambassador Board of Directors – generate $2,000,000 in new GV after qualifying as a Board of Directors, and personally recruit ate least five Executive Directors or higher
GV stands for “Group Volume”. GV is downline monthly Member fee volume, including an inCruises affiliate’s own Member fee payment.
Note that for the purpose of rank qualification, no more than 50% of required GV is counted from any one recruitment leg.
MLM Commission Qualification
To qualify for MLM commissions, inCruises affiliates must be up to date with $99 six-month membership fee payments and have recruited
- one affiliate within the last 30 days;
- three affiliates within the last 90 days;
- six affiliates within the last 180 days; and
- twelve affiliates within the last 365 days
InCruises affiliates earn $20 per Member they refer.
This amount can be increased by as much as $60 per Member referred, based on total Member referrals in a month:
- refer 3 to 4 Members in a month and receive a $20 bonus per referral
- refer 5 to 9 Members in a month and receive a $30 bonus per referral
- refer 10+ Members in a month and receive a $40 bonus per referral
Referral Matching Bonus
InCruises affiliates who refer at least one Member in a week qualify for a Referral Matching Bonus.
The Referral Matching Bonus is paid as a 100% match on referral commissions paid to personally recruited affiliates.
This is extended to a month if the recruited affiliate has themselves referred three or more Members.
Residual Commissions (rank)
InCruises residual commissions are tied to rank:
- qualify at Marketing Director and receive $300 a month
- qualify at Senior Marketing Director and receive $1000 a month
- qualify at Regional Director and receive $2500 a month
- qualify at National Director and receive $5000 a month
- qualify at International Director and receive $10,000 a month
- qualify at Executive Director and receive $25,000 a month
- qualify at Board of Directors and receive $55,000 a month
- qualify at Ambassador Board of Directors and receive $155,000 a month
- qualify at Royal Ambassador Board of Directors and receive $255,000 a month
Residual Commissions (Member fee payments)
Marketing Director and higher ranked affiliates qualify for Member fee residual commissions if they refer/recruit five Members.
Member fee residual commissions are paid out via a unilevel compensation structure.
A unilevel compensation structure places an affiliate at the top of a unilevel team, with every personally recruited affiliate placed directly under them (level 1):
If any level 1 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 2 of the original affiliate’s unilevel team.
If any level 2 affiliates recruit new affiliates, they are placed on level 3 and so on and so forth down a theoretical infinite number of levels.
Member fee residual commissions are paid out as $5 for every recurring downline Member fee payment made each month (nothing is paid on the initial Member fee payment).
How many unilevel team levels Member fee residual commissions are paid out down is determined by rank:
- Marketing Directors earn Member fee residual commissions across two unilevel team levels
- Senior Marketing Directors earn Member fee residual commissions across five unilevel team levels
- National Directors earn Member fee residual commissions across ten unilevel team levels
- Executive Directors earn Member fee residual commissions across fifteen unilevel team levels
- Board of Directors and higher ranked affiliates earn Member fee residual commissions across twenty unilevel team levels
Builders Base Bonus
Marketing Directors and higher qualify for the Builders Base Bonus.
The Builders Base Bonus is paid on downline “Builders Base Volume”.
Builders Base Volume is Member fee volume from the downlines of personally recruited affiliates who are at International Director and below.
- generate $5000 to $9999 in Builders Base Volume and receive a 5% Builders Base Bonus
- generate $10,000 to $29,999 in Builders Base Volume and receive a 10% Builders Base Bonus
- generate $30,000 or more in Builders Base Volume and receive a 30% Builders Base Bonus (capped at $30,000)
Note that rather than just pay out the above qualified for amounts, inCruises applies additional complicated criteria to reduce the actual Builders Base Bonus paid out.
To qualify for Historical qualification, an inCruises affiliate must have qualified for MLM commissions over the past ten months, and have at least one hundred Members in their downline.
Historical qualification is based on the is based on the last ten months and assumption that an affiliate has at least one hundred Members across their downline.
Each newly referred/recruited Member across this six-month period counts as 10% of qualified for Builders Base Bonus.
E.g. if only one Member is referred/recruited over the past six months, an affiliate only qualifies for 10% of the earned Builders Base Bonus.
Ten referred/recruited Members are required over a rolling six-month period to qualify for the full Builders Base Bonus.
To qualify for Month to Month qualification, an inCruises affiliate mustn’t qualify under Historical qualification.
In this scenario, Historical qualification criteria is discarded but the six-month referred/recruited Member percentage calculation is retained.
If this calculation leads to a 72%+ Builders Base Bonus rate (i.e. eight new Members have been referred/recruited over the past six months), the full 100% Builders Base Bonus rate is paid out.
If the calculated amount under Month to Month qualification is less than 72%, no Builders Base Bonus is paid out.
Fast Start Bonus
If an inCruises affiliate qualifies for Marketing Director in their first full month, they receive a one-time $500 Fast Start Bonus in lieu of the usual $300 rank-based monthly residual commission.
InCruises affiliates who refer/recruit the most Members each week receive Rewards Points.
Winners can use their (1 for 1) Reward Points for booking cruises, hotels and resorts.
The top referrer/recruiter receives 500 Rewards Points. This scales down to 20 Rewards Points, awarded to the the twenty-fifth highest referrer/recruiter of the week.
The same scale is used again to also determine a monthly Rewards Points bonus. The monthly Rewards Points bonus is based on Members referred/recruited by an affiliate and their downline.
Incruises affiliate membership is $95 every 6 months.
Adding Member fees onto this comes to $195 and then $100 a month (add $95 every 6 months to maintain affiliate membership).
Purely based on a comparison of inCruises today and BehindMLM’s August 2022 review, “Partnership 2.0” and “Membership 2.0” are just an attempt to not be so blatant about the pyramid scheme.
The travel-booking side of the business remains the same, which is expected because it’s materially irrelevant.
Likewise inCruises has made some compensation changes, however the core of the business is still signing up as an affiliate, paying $100 a month so your upline gets paid, and then recruiting affiliates below you who also pay $100 a month (so you get paid).
InCruises know this business model is illegal (it’s a pyramid scheme), and so provide potential recruits with this pseudo-compliance disclaimer:
We DO NOT pay Partners for the recruiting or sponsoring of new Partners. Commissions, and bonuses are ONLY paid on the sale of our Membership Product and never on Partner’s payments to join our opportunity.
It falls apart upon consideration of the likelihood of the majority of inCruises Members also being affiliates.
If that’s the case (and I strongly suspect it is), then inCruises do in fact “pay Partners for the recruiting or sponsoring of new Partners”.
If inCruises was serious about not running a pyramid scheme, they’d pay out only on retail Members.
The Daily Activation Bonus is paid when any Member or Partner Member Activates a Membership.
Both are considered Member Activations for compensation purposes.
Again, inCruises know this business model is conducive to running a pyramid scheme. Instead of pseudo-compliance though, this time we get flat out lies.
This is from inCruises “Business Opportunity Disclosure”;
There should be a clear difference between a Customer of the product or service being marketed and the Representative promoting and making sales of the products and services.
inCruises makes a clear differentiation between our customers (we call them Members) and our representatives (we call them Partners).
Anyone can become a Member and that does not automatically make them a Partner.
Charging affiliates $95 every 6 months isn’t the issue. The issue is inCruises makes no differentiation between retail customers and recruited affiliates with respect to its MLM opportunity (commission qualification criteria and payment of commissions and bonuses).
InCruises fails to differentiate between retail Members and affiliate Members. Not differentiating between retail customers and affiliates is typical of MLM pyramid schemes.
As previously stated, inCruises’ travel offering is irrelevant with respect to its MLM opportunity.
This is reflected by inCruises not bothering to provide any travel booking information or pricing examples on its website. Also, and this is important, no commissions are paid on booked travel.
One thing I saw in inCruises’ marketing material that I hadn’t before was its claim that “membership payments are protected”.
Taking inCruises’ claim at face value, said protection is purportedly provided by Trust My Travel.
TMTProtects.Me is underwritten by Neon Underwriting Limited, on behalf of Neon Syndicate.
A visit to “tmtprotects.me” reveals;
How does the protection work?
The protection is for the funds that you have paid to your Travel Provider for the goods or services you have purchased.
Your funds are held in a trust account administered by independent trustees, who are a combination of solicitors and accountants.
Your email receipt is confirmation to you that your money has been protected within Trust My Travel’s Trust Account.
Two glaring issues immediately pop out:
- Members don’t actually pay for “goods or services” until travel is actually booked; and
- Member payments fund inCruises’ compensation plan.
How can inCruises pay MLM commissions and represent 100% of Member fees paid in are held in a trust account?
Unless I’m missing something, the math doesn’t add up.
Trust My Travel is obviously designed to protect funds actually allocated to booked travel, in the event a covered travel company goes bust between payment of travel and the travel itself.
That doesn’t fit inCruises’ business model.
As of last August, the top source of traffic to inCruises website was Peru. This correlated with people in Peru being recruited into inCruises at the time.
Given the average monthly wage in Peru as of December 2021, I pointed out it was absurd to think people in Peru were giving a quarter of their monthly salary to inCruises.
inCruises is obviously priced towards western consumers (booked travel in Peru is likely to be far cheaper).
Since August 2022, inCruises recruitment in Peru has completely collapsed. Did people in Peru simply stop travelling? Unlikely.
Today SimilarWeb tracks top sources of traffic to inCruises website as Kazakhstan (20%), Ukraine (17%), Italy (12%) and Spain (9%). Kazakhstan has essentially replaced Peru.
As of January 2023, the monthly average wage in Kazakhstan was ~$739. Not as obvious as Peru but still suspicious.
Instead of publishing a meaningless “Business Opportunity Disclosure” marketing document, how about inCruises disclose gross monthly revenue from affiliate Members vs. retail Members?
No counting inactive affiliates as retail customer shenanigans either.
Given inCruises’ overall business model hasn’t changed, I’ll finish up by quoting BehindMLM’s August 2022 review;
As a regulator looking into inCruises, I’d primarily focus on two metrics:
- the ratio of Member sales to Partner and Partner Member sales (in terms of total revenue generated by inCruises each month); and
- the amount of actual travel booked each month compared to total Member, Partner and Partner Member fees collected.
As a prospective inCruises affiliate, your best bet is asking your upline how many Members they’ve referred. Then compare that against how many Partners and Partner Members they’ve recruited.
Also if they’re a Partner Member themselves, ask them how much travel they’ve booked in the past year. If the answer is none, take that at face value.
The fact of the matter is, no matter what the excuses are, if people are paying for access to a travel booking engine but they’re not booking travel – travel isn’t why they signed up.
Thus far inCruises has received regulatory attention for pyramid fraud in Russia and Poland. Following the respective warnings, inCruises recruitment in both countries collapsed.
Approach with caution.