Monday, July 16, 2012

Paying to Not Get Laid

If you want some hilarious reading, check out the website 'Miss Travel'.

Lest my screeds prejudice your impressions, let's just quote the company's own description of what it offers:
'Who needs money, beautiful people travel free!'
Generous: Find a Travel Companion
Let's face it, no one likes to travel alone. We made this so that people who travel can meet other people to join them.
Attractive: Travel Anywhere Free
Want to see the world or find new friends? Meet generous travelers who are seeking travel partners, or local tour guides.
 Got that?

There's so much comedy gold to work through here that it's hard to know where to start.

To begin with the obvious, let's look at the pictures displayed on the opening page:

In other words, everyone is only interested in the women side (at first). The female members want to relate to these attractive go-getting normal women! The men want to meet said women. At a first pass, nobody is interested in the men.

But there's at least a couple of big elephant-in-the-room question left unanswered by the premise of the site. I would submit they are the following:

1. If the guy pays for the woman to travel with him, is the woman expected to sleep with the guy?

2.. If the answer to #1 is yes, is this just glorified prostitution?

3. If the answer to #1 is no, why on earth would guys pay thousands of dollars to not sleep with a woman?

4. Regardless of #1, how often do the people in question actually sleep together.

(Un)Amazingly, none of these questions are answered on the 'FAQ' page.

Let's start with #1. Once you realise the implications of #2 and #3, it's obvious how they have to work it. Go back and read the site, and see if you can figure out the answer. is a travel dating website that matches generous travelers with attractive travel girls (or guys).
They square the circle about as best you can.

In other words, the essential dilemma of the site is that women won't go on a site where it's expected that they have to sleep with some guy on the other side of the world, sight unseen. Men, on the other hand, won't fly a woman across the world unless they're pretty sure they're going to get laid.

On face, these seem like incompatible goals. The answer is to pose this as a probabilistic answer - it's a "dating site", so you might get laid, assuming you both want to!

Men hear  "you might get laid, assuming you both want to."

Women hear "you might get laidassuming you both want to."

Of course, if the expectation of p(getting laid) is radically different between the man and the woman, eventually reality will collide with these distorted beliefs. And the loser will, I predict, be the man.

At the margin though, the whole site is geared up towards attracting women. You might assume that men with money are the scarce resource here. But they're not - the supply of desperate loser men is high, even if the supply of those willing to pay to fly out women to maybe sorta hopefully sleep with them is not so high. At the margin, given it's free for women to sign up, the site owners seem to be betting that if you build a place with lots of hot normal women (well, as normal as you can be while being willing to have a stranger fly you across the country or world), then the losers with fat wallets will come.

But question #2 keeps looming. The moral delineation between 'pay for sex with money', 'pay for sex with things that cost money, but not money directly', and 'have sex consensually unrelated to the transfer of goods, then do nice things for partner which cost money, including gifts' becomes awfully fuzzy when you try to pin it down. The first case is prostitution. The second case is being a sugar daddy. The third case, in various forms, is a relationship. Feminists have argued about this point for decades.

How does Miss Travel deal with this thorny philosophical question? As follows;
ESCORTS: DO NOT ENTER! is intended to be used as an online dating website. Our members expect to find genuine profiles, with genuine opportunities to fall in love and enter into a relationship. We understand that every member has a different motivation for joining this site, but we do not support any members who are registering as escorts. This is not an escort site, nor will we permit any type of escorting on this site. is strictly an online dating service for people who are looking for a travel partner.
If you are an escort, who has advertised your services on any escort website, you are not allowed to use this website. We encourage our members to report any suspicious activity or requests of this nature, and will act upon any complaints.
Let me ask a totally obvious question. Is this message meant to: 

a) deter potential prostitutes from using the site, or

b) reassure regular women with no history of prostitution who are thinking of signing up to the site that doing so will not make them a prostitute.

To ask, as they say, is to know the answer.

Could they make it any more plain? It's like George Bush Sr, with his 'Message: I Care'. They may as well put up a page saying 'FAQ: Does it make me a hooker if I use this site?'. But that would likely be difficult, because then they'd need to disabuse either the men or the women of the nature of the arrangement. This warning is far more clever.

From the male perspective, paradoxically the 'generous travellers' probably don't want to feel like they're paying for a hooker either. Men would much rather pay to probabilistically sleep with someone than they will to sleep with someone with certainty.

So, in theory, this could work. The $64,000 question, however, is #4 - what is the likelihood that the guy will actually get laid?

Obviously they don't put this data on their website. But helpfully they do put some user testimonials, from which we can make some educated guesses. Let's see.

Case #1

The guy in this story is so unimportant that he isn't even mentioned. The woman's second sentence is to complain about the food. The only people who were listed as 'great fun' were the locals. Ouch. It's vanishingly unlikely that the guy got anywhere.

Case #2.

Aside from creepy 'cousine' bit (what better term of endearment for your woman than 'cousin'! Er, or not) this sounds the least like glorified probabilistic prostitution. The fact that he had a GREAT TIME might mean he got some tail, or just that he was too embarrassed to admit that he didn't. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt, and score this as a win. Note too that the website couldn't wait to include the description of a rich guy from Paris, not a rich guy from Akron, Ohio.

Case #3

This girl at least talks in non-trivial detail about the guy in question, suggesting at a minimum that she didn't just view him as a chump with a wallet. 'I did some shopping alone' = 'I had carte blanche use of his credit card'. Nice! The fact that he didn't bother seeing her during the day screams out lawyer or banker. If they're planning a new trip, I presume this means he did score, unless he's just a glutton for punishment. The 'nice time' made me wince though. I dunno - give him the benefit of the doubt and count it as a win.

Case #4.

Yeesh, this guy is boasting about how much he spent on this girl in the first sentence. The 'indoor fun' bit may just be boasting, but the more relevant part is that the vacation happened in Portland - I don't the stereotypical gold-digger wants to spend a week in Portland, unless they actually somewhat like the guy. I rate it as a win - in fact, I'd rate this as the highest probability so far that he actually got some action.

Case #5.

Nothing quite screams out 'guy who spent a lot of money to not get laid, and is now trying to rationalise it to himself' like the phrase '[we] had a harmonious time together'. That's gotta burn. Fail.

Case #6

I presume 'we' is referring to the guy's wallet, which, as far as this description indicates, is all she saw. Not quite as brutal as the first one, but I don't like this invisible guy's chances. Moral of the story, lads? Avoid the ones who want a Caribbean trip like the plague.

And I've saved the most interesting for last:

Case #7

It took me a second to realise that the picture wasn't mistakenly attached to the wrong testimonial - it's a guy who went to meet another guy. No wonder the picture is a closeup of his face and he seems quite good-looking - he doesn't look like the kind of guy who'd have to pay to fly a woman somewhere to get laid, and sure enough, he isn't. I imagine he probably did score.

So where does this get us? From the straight ones, we're batting 3 from 6. And this is the absolute maximum, because these are the testimonials the website owners themselves cherry-picked in order to seem as good as possible.

And as to cost, these guys probably paid multiple thousands of dollars for these trips. Given you're basically paying to get laid anyway, a hooker seems a lot cheaper.

I'm not surprised that this strategy has a low return. One person who would not have fallen for this kind of stupidity is the great Richard Feynman. Long before the advent of game, he seems to have figured out some of the basic details. As he put it:
"Furthermore, the very first rule is, don’t buy a girl anything -- not even a package of cigarettes — until you’ve asked her if she’ll sleep with you, and you’re convinced that she will, and that she’s not lying.”
 Ignore this at your peril.

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