An open invitation for Travelhost to answer some questions about success rates:

I have gotten many calls lately regarding the way Travelhost has been treating us associates, some for many years. I wanted to openly ask Travelhost a few questions, with the hope of getting some answers. This would also provide an opportunity for Travelhost to offer their explanation or rebuttals to some of the issues discussed here in this blog.

Oh, and one more thing, if anyone would like to email me personally to discuss something written here on this blog, please do. I welcome all responses at Brian@NYTravelhost.com.

Keeping it very simple, Travelhost, please answer these questions:

1. How many “Associate Publishers” currently PROFITABLY publish Travelhost Magazine here in the United States? (please show us proof)

2. What is the SUCCESS RATE (likelihood of success/failure) for newly acquired investors (associate publishers)? (please show us proof)

3. Finally, why do you feel that your company is NOT subject to Franchise Laws? (please list the reasons why, and provide us proof)

3.5 After 40 years of being in business, why are there so few “Associate Publishers” in your network?

There are 15 states that have very strong, specific laws that franchises must follow and obey. Do you live in one of these states?

The States are: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.

These fifteen States and the Federal Government have Franchise Investment Protection Acts. The acts are designed to mandate certain disclosures to people considering an investment in business opportunities such as Travelhost.

The key thing here is that these Acts place uniform disclosure requirements on Franchisers before the investment is made. They also have severe punishments to Franchisors who fail to make the required disclosures. Why hasn’t Travelhost disclosed any of this information to us before we invested?

Are there any Travelhost AP’s out there who were warned of the very high failure rate of Travelhost AP’s?

The answer may astound you! Wouldn’t you think, that investing 60k into a business that’s got a national network going for over 40 years, one would have a HIGHER than average success rate? Isn’t that what you pay for?

Wouldn’t you have like to have known about the EXTREMELY LOW SUCCESS RATE before you signed on the line?

Travelhost, will you please shed some light on these unanswered questions?

We’d all like to know the answers!

PLEASE TELL US WHY WE ALL PAY SO MUCH TO BELONG TO THIS TRAVELHOST NETWORK!

WHY DO A THIRD OF OUR ASSOCIATES DROWN IN DEBT AND GO BROKE EVERY YEAR?

WHY DO YOU LET THIS HAPPEN, YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR, AND NOT TRY TO CORRECT THE COURSE OF ACTION?

WHY DO YOU STRING THESE PEOPLE ALONG, UNTIL THEY ARE SO BROKE, THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO SIGN PAPERS THAT HOLD TRAVELHOST HARMLESS, IN EXCHANGE FOR SOME MINOR CONCESSION?

5 Responses to “An open invitation for Travelhost to answer some questions about success rates:”

  1. Concerned, veteran AP Says:

    My guess is, Brian, you won’t hear from Travelhost about any of this, because they are very good at putting up this positive vibe with a classic corporate spin on everything. They are infamous for never looking in the mirror no matter how much turnover they have. The onus is always on the associate publishers, never on an outdated, failing business model. I’ve been in the “network” for some time, and I have grown more and more frustrated with the way TH fails to acknowledge its own shortcomings – they just keep misleading the investors and filling holes like some kind of sick assembly line that only makes TH money and creates instability everywhere. Good job with the blog. Keep it up. We need change!

  2. bdhickey Says:

    Thank you for writing in, and thanks for your comments! You hit the nail on the head, and I suspect it’s because you’ve lived it for quite some time. I know that I have, and I have to admit that it’s not an easy thing to tell people. Frankly, I’m embarassed about what I’ve put up with over the years!

    I consider myself to be a pretty smart business person, having a college education, and some of the best corporate training in sales in the US. I bit the hook on this one too.

    And, sadly, I’ve known about this for quite some time. It doesn’t take long to figure out, but hardly anyone in the network talks about it. Travelhost does such a good job of convincing us that we are all doing something wrong when we fail, that most people believe it!

    Well, I (and many others at this point) have had enough.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement, and thank you for validating my own suspicions. I’ll keep at it until the problem is resolved.

    We do need a change!

  3. Eli Mertens Says:

    Brian,

    I’m not sure I understand what you are trying to accomplish with your blog?

    You served on the TravelHost Advisory Board and had the perfect forum to address all your issues and you never did. In fact you missed 2 of the 3 meetings in 2009. Then you abruptly quit the board.

    If my memory is correct, you purchased your TravelHost magazine from someone who successfully published it for over 20 years. Why all of a sudden do you feel that this is not a good business?

    What makes me extremely upset is you can’t make it as a business person so you want to take everyone down with you. I’m extremely proud of the business I’ve built and don’t appreciate you or anyone trying to destroy the brand I’ve built here in my market. Do I believe TravelHost, Inc in Dallas could do some things better that could help us all – sure, but those issues haven’t stopped my business from growing and being the leading Tourism publication in my market.

    I also want to make a point to you and others that waste their time with negativity instead of trying to grow their business: I have never been lied to by anyone at TravelHost or was I ever promised that I would succeed and make money. TravelHost provided me the opportunity of a business and I agreed to sign on the dotted line. The rest was up to me.

    The questions you ask are rather lame since you as an Associate Publisher of TravelHost should know the answers.

    PROFITABLY? You know that TravelHost doesn’t have our advertising sales records or keep any financials on any individual markets.

    SUCCESS RATE ? When I signed on with TravelHost over 5 years ago I was told it failed before in my market. Guess what? I purchased it any way and I’m making more money and enjoying a lifestyle that I never dreamed of.

    Before I signed my agreement with TravelHost I did my due diligence and researched TravelHost in my market place and made many phone calls to other AP’s around the country. I knew that some AP’s were failing, but it wasn’t because of anything Dallas did or didn’t do – it was people getting into a business that they couldn’t run or manage.

    FRANCHISE LAWS? Who cares and why does it matter… Didn’t you sign the agreement that stipulated the terms?

    40 years of being in business, why are there so few “Associate Publishers” in your network?

    Last count was 100+ and that number would be greater if you used your resources to help grow our brand and not what you are currently doing with this blog.

    Are there any Travelhost AP’s out there who were warned of the very high failure rate of Travelhost AP’s?

    Reading your blog makes it sound like all TravelHost editions are failing. I find that interesting because most of the other AP’s I talk with or call for ideas are doing well. The economy is hurting some editions more then others, but for the most part I see the opposite of what you would like everyone else to see.

    Every business has failures and poor management. You should have done your due diligence and seen that you were not someone who would be successful at this kind of business.

    PLEASE TELL US WHY WE ALL PAY SO MUCH TO BELONG TO THIS TRAVELHOST NETWORK! You are paying for the opportunity to own your own business using the TravelHost name. Your success or failure is based on your sales skills, your leadership on running a business and what you make of the opportunity.

    WHY DO A THIRD OF OUR ASSOCIATES DROWN IN DEBT AND GO BROKE EVERY YEAR? I guess you must be privy to some inside information because I haven’t heard that a third of the network is drowning in debt and going broke….Did you survey all 100+ AP’s – I didn’t get a call.

    WHY DO YOU LET THIS HAPPEN, YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR, AND NOT TRY TO CORRECT THE COURSE OF ACTION? What exactly would you like to see happen? Do you expect Dallas to go into your market and sell ads for you? If I’m not happy with my situation I need to work harder and sell more ads, I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me. In the past couple of years more has been invested in help from Dallas with webinars, regional meetings, sales ideas and other marketing ideas that have continued to help my business grow. I would challenge you that you haven’t even been to a regional meeting or a webinar to help grow your business.

    WHY DO YOU STRING THESE PEOPLE ALONG, UNTIL THEY ARE SO BROKE, THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE BUT TO SIGN PAPERS THAT HOLD TRAVELHOST HARMLESS, IN EXCHANGE FOR SOME MINOR CONCESSION? Were you forced to become an Associate Publisher with TravelHost?? Why did you sign the agreement? It is an agreement you signed to own a business. I would assume that Dallas expects their agreements be honored, as I expect my advertisers to honor their agreements with my business.

    Brian- I think it’s about time you stop blaming others for your failure and take actions to make your business work. I’m willing to help you as I know many other AP’s would be willing to share what is working for them and making them successful. But at the end of the day it’s up to you.

    Sincerely,

    Eli Mertens
    TravelHost of the Bluegrass
    Lexington, KY

    • bdhickey Says:

      Hey Eli,

      Thanks for the reply to my post, glad to have you with us! I’ll have more time later to respond to each line in more detail, as believe it or not, I don’t spend all day with this negative energy. Actually, as you’ll find out, what I’m hoping to accomplish here is very positive. And, you’ve actually done an excellent job in helping me accomplish my goals, because you ask excellent questions!

      I’ll be back tonight to discuss each point, and in the meantime, if you’re looking for something to do, look up why the FTC has franchise laws. They are there to protect the investors (you and me). And, it’s important, because Travelhost may be commiting a FELONY by not reporting this important information to us as investors, before we invest! Actually, they go out of their way to HIDE the information, because they know no one will sign on the line, if they knew what has happened over the last 40 years.

      Eli, I applaud you for doing well, especially when the odds are very much against you. And, if you knew this info, before you started, you’d probably not have started with Travelhost. Despite being overcharged 200%+, you and about 15 others are making a good living. That’s awesome, and I don’t begrudge you one bit. But, as an entrepreneur, you cant tell me that you enjoy being overcharged, and find value in paying 30k+ extra per year, to be a part of this network, can you? And you cant tell me that having been provided this information, you would have still gone through with your deal, can you?

      Eli, I’m doing this in hopes that Travelhost will at least follow the law, and disclose this vital information to investors before they invest. That way more people don’t make the same mistake I made, and countless others have made in the past.

      Eli, you’re one of the few…it’s why you’re on the AB in the first place…get it?

      Talk more soon…ciao.

      Brian

    • bdhickey Says:

      OK, Eli, I’m back.

      Thanks for your patience. I’m going to be very straight forward in my responses, and as short and to the point as possible. I have to tell you, you’re the first one with a rebuttal to this, so thank you! Every other call or email I get is in support of what I’m doing here, so this is a bit of a reality check…and that’s good!

      1. First and foremost, as I said earlier, I started The Publisher’s Advocate blog to ensure people have all the right info before they invest. I can help others save their time and money, as mine is already shot.
      2. I did serve on the Travelhost Advisory Board, for almost two years. Obviously Travelhost felt I was worthy enough to serve, and invited me on board. I did miss the last two meetings, and it’s what led to my apparent dismissal. (I never got any “official notice” that I was booted.) The first one I missed, was due to three canceled flights out of Charlotte. After about 18 hrs of waiting around, grounded, I started to pontificate as to why I was spending so much time traveling to a 1.5 day meeting, where nothing was ever accomplished! (Actually, when you consider the wasted time hearing the preacher preach from his pulpit, there wasn’t much time for action.) It was then I realized that I was wasting my valuable time attending these meetings, and voluntarily “skipped” the last meeting, where I was evidently canned.
      3. I purchased my business from a woman who owned it about two years. She purchased it from a man who had it for about 17 years. She was unable to run the business, and was going broke publishing (allegedly from lack of sales experience) and I took over thinking my years with ad sales would pay off. And, it did for a while. Fast-forward 4 years later, the economy took a dive. As my competitors started cutting pages and pressrun, I stood by losing money. Travelhost forced me to print 48 pages, when I only needed maybe 32, and continued to charge me DOUBLE what my competition was paying from local printers. This lead me to dig deeper into “wholesale pricing” and I realized that we were getting screwed! Coupling that with analyzing the failure rates and past litigation with Travelhost, I quickly realized I was a part of a BAD business model, that put me at a severe competitive disadvantage in my market.
      4. I’m not trying to “take anyone down” with me, I’m merely using the only strategy that will ever work with Travelhost. That’s exposing them for who they are, and hoping they’ll change for the better. “Some things that can change,” Eli? How about FRAUD? Change that first, then we’ll talk. One very important caveat: Travelhost is, always was, and will continue to be the best way to reach the traveler! It’s a great advertising vehicle for our advertisers, just a bad business deal for the so-called associates.
      5. Eli, the reality is that in every business there are failures. However, when one buys into a franchised business model, and pays a premium, you’d EXPECT better than average success rates! Travelhost has WORSE than average rates, well into the 80-90 percentile of FAILURE. Did they tell you that?
      6. The sad truth is, most AP’s (except you and several others) limp along, making marginal money for their entire Travelhost career…putting money into Travelhost’s pocket, and none in theirs. Meanwhile, they lose sleep at night, and Jim Buerger buys another Cadillac.
      7. Eli, during your due diligence, did you know that Travelhost was considered by at least one judge in the US to have committed FRAUD? And that a past AP was awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements? How about the FTC considering Travelhost a franchise? How about the failure rates, and the overpriced printing? EXACTLY…ME EITHER!!!! They must have gone out of their way to HIDE THIS, eh?
      8. The franchise laws are important because they protect innocent people. How can you ask such a “lame question” Eli, come on, you’re a smart guy! Just because the government doesn’t heavily enforce these laws, doesn’t mean they’re not important!
      9. The network is under a hundred AP’s, if I had to bet my money on it, Eli. But even if it isn’t, shouldn’t it be much more? After 40 years of picking AP’s, shouldn’t they have gotten it right by now? Or, is turnover part of the business plan? Think about it…2 million a year on turnover aint bad, is it…there should be 500 AP’s by now!
      10. Not every edition is failing, Eli. I never said that. What I am saying, is that the business model is not a healthy one, and that’s why most people fail. It’s not that they all suck, Eli. Granted, some do. But not all. I didn’t fail, I quit. I was forced to quit, because I didn’t think paying Travelhost 8 grand per issue extra was worth it anymore, and my cashflow is down. My magazine was losing money with the Travelhost business model, but if I were independent, I’d still be making 32k per year!
      11. Eli, the Travelhost “name” means nothing up here in NY. I believe I’m the only publisher in the state right now. And, the entire “northeast region” consists of 8 people, some of which are in Virginia and Carolina?! Where’s the value there? Where’s the fantastic website we were all promised? Where’s the creativity and looks that are needed in this century?
      12. I get calls every day, Eli. You bet your bottom dollar over a third of this network is drowning in debt! Think not, start calling. I have more people calling me and emailing me everyday, that I have to SHUT MY PHONE OFF. I just don’t have time to talk all day. Go through the drop down menu of Travelhost’s website, and you can distinguish the markets no longer operating.
      13. I don’t expect Dallas to sell ads for me, I expect them to charge us wholesale prices for printing, like my contract says. How about making money on advertising, instead of printing? I thought Travelhost was a publisher? Not a printer? The webinars and sales help only establish Travelhost even more as a franchise…so where’s my disclosure?
      14. Dallas does expect the agreement to be honored, and no one forced me to sign. I did, however, expect that they weren’t misleading me when they said the pricing was wholesale! I honored my agreement. I paid full boat for every issue I printed, and I quit on my own accord, because I was unwilling to continue paying unfair prices. I was tired of being put at a competitive disadvantage. And, I didn’t want to commit fraud by selling my magazine to some other unsuspecting person! So I had no other choice, but quit, and tell the world about it. Which, by the way, is my constitutional right.
      15. Eli, the only negative thing here is the Travelhost business model. I don’t consider myself a failure, no more than I consider you crazy for paying Buerger his premium. I blame Travelhost in a sense that I was mislead, as was everyone else. They did not disclose what needed to be disclosed, they do not charge wholesale prices, and they make money from turnover and printing. Not advertising, like every other publisher on God’s green Earth.

      Eli, I’m not trying to convince you to see things my way, nor do I want you to change your Travelhost business. I just wanted you to understand my, and MANY other people’s perspective.

      If you want to be mad, go ahead and be mad at me, that’s ok if it makes you feel any better. Travelhost has been doing this to people for years, and they don’t seem to lose any sleep over it, do they?

      Travelhost knows what they’re doing is wrong, and they’ll ultimately have to face that one day.

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