How Many Associate Publishers In The Travelhost Network Are “Serving The Traveler?”

And, are they really put here by Travelhost to “Serve the traveler?”

There has been some speculation lately, as the number of AP’s seem to be dropping quite rapidly…let’s take a look:

A recent effort was made, and reported that Travelhost may have lost over 40 associate publishers in 2009 already!

No one really knows the exact number, except for the folks down in Dallas, who are keeping the “files” close to their vests. And those files are closely guarded, you can rest assured! (psst..Travelhost, don’t show those numbers to new investors (prospective franchisees) or they’ll run for the hills!)

I’ve received quite a few emails lately asking this question, and since I don’t actually know the real number of AP’s left (afloat, and not broke), I can only shrug my shoulders and say “your guess is as good as mine.” Well, some people have been doing research, and the numbers ain’t so good…

I did notice, however, that the new media kit doesn’t say anything about 125 markets anymore…which is good, because I believe there are less than half of that left at this point. And, we all know that trying to sell national advertising by inflating the number of markets is basically FRAUD. (as is misrepresenting the number of markets to prospective AP’s) Hopefully all the AP’s have scrapped the old media kit, and are now selling “regional and national” ad space using the new (and quite vague) Travelhost Media Kit. It’ll be a tough sell, when they ask “how many markets are you in?” Not knowing won’t help, but not misrepresenting…well it’s a good place to start!

Let’s take one last look at Jeff Loudon’s posting, from his “Travelheist Investors Blog” that was up and online, before he mysteriously disappeared some time around the second quarter of 2009: (apparently his silence was bought, at a hefty price, cause HE’S STILL PUBLISHING WHAT APPEARS TO BE  3 ISSUES OF TRAVELHOST PER YEAR IN YAKIMA, WASHINGTON, SOMETHING I NOTICED A COUPLE OF OTHER AP’S SEEM TO BE DOING AS WELL)
“135 Associate Publishers” and Growing: Fraud? Breach of Contract?

Perhaps a smart lawyer might mirror my thoughts, perhaps not. I do not claim to be a licensed lawyer…some drivel from a “layman.”

It dawned on me this morning in the shower that the claim of 135 APs perennially by Travelhost in its sales pitches, sales materials, Careerbuilder.com and website has considerably more import than just to highlight just how bad the success rate for franchisees has been.(Note: I made copies of Careerbuilder and the website in case TH “ceases and desists” this misrepresentation in the dark of night)

The size and growth rate of the network strikes right at the heart of being induced to be a franchise by TH and in the nature of what is being bought for “AP status.” Travelhost induced me to become an AP because it touted itself as a growing 135 region, national publication. My guess is that the same representation has been made to everyone subsequently, to this date, and perhaps before mid-2006.

Based on my guess in reviewing the TH website, there are now only 88 markets running. So in the first instance, recent APs have arguably been induced to the Travelhost umbrella by a misrepresentation of the size of the network. This might be characterized as a “misrepresentation” or “fraud.” Either of these things, if proven, give rise to significant remedies to APs. Furthermore, the “pot’s right” (waiver agreement in Travelhost parlance) that TH mandates most APs sign on departure to avoid even more grief might not apply if fraud is proven. (Note, watch out you get a bill for an additional printing if you don’t notify TH 90 days in advance)

It gets a bit more interesting when you analyze the benefits conferred under the AP agreement: Having been told that TH is “national” and in 135 markets…and growing you fork over $30,000 for 2 free pages of National ads to sell and pocket the proceeds, supposedly $72,000 worth. You are promised a 40% commission on the revenues of national ads the AP sells thereafter as well, something that has been accomplished extremely rarely. (You also get “wholesale pricing” which as previously posted, is untrue in my opinion)

Once you happily go out in the street as a new AP and try to sell the national ads, you find out that TH hides the data on existing market quantities and components…ie how many and where. It also has hidden the fact that there are far fewer than 135 markets operational, for which the AP is trying to pocket $36,000/month/page on an ad sale. The net result is that virtually nobody successfully sells the free 2 pages of Natl. ads or other national or regional ads.

(A strange aside to this: If an AP did successfully sell these ads through a claim of 135 markets nationally, the AP could be sued for misrepresenting 135 markets to the advertiser…yikes!)

Bottom Line: The AP pays $30,000 extra for the right to sell national and regional ads for a 40% commission to “135 markets.”…not. The AP gets 2 free ad pages (worth $72,000) published in 135 markets…not. The AP gets “wholesale pricing” for the $30K…not. (The AP gets Exhibit XXX pricing that is the same as non-APs’ pricing… appx.triple retail

What’s left for your $30K: The marvelous website (subject to massive fees) A free regional ad based on circulation, that rarely garners any revenue.

You’ve heard enough layman talk…talk to a lawyer if this stuff is interesting, before or after you invest. Stay tuned, we get into the “Franchise Laws–a Layman’s Perspective” and were are going to have some nice posts from former APs forthwith!

SO, HOW MANY DO WE HAVE NOW?

Now, when Jeff Loudon wrote this back in March of 2009, nine short months ago…his research led him to believe there were 88 markets.

How many could there be now? Seems like the numbers just don’t add up to much, doesn’t it?

I mean, if we lost 40 markets this year, then around 3.3 were lost each month. So, by March we had already lost 10 (3.3X3)…and by now we must have lost another 30? (3.3X9) So, is it possible that the Travelhost network is operating on only 58 markets now? Is that possible?

I’m sure the steady income from the Florida markets, and some of the key destination places in America like Branson and Palm Springs will keep Travelhost going…but what about the rest of us?

What’s in store for the smaller markets that Travelhost “serves?”

And, why does Travelhost continue to try and “serve” these markets, if all they do is go broke time after time after time again?

Does anyone have a solution for any of this?

Does anyone have any information as to how many markets are currently being “served” by Travelhost?

If so, please send the information to my attention: EMAIL THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE!

Does Travelhost really exist to “Serve The Traveler” when their markets go belly-up all the time?

How do the travelers benefit from Travelhost, when the magazines fail in so many markets every year?

So, is it really Travelhost’s goal to “SERVE THE TRAVELER?”

OR IS IT JUST ANOTHER BULLSHIT EXCUSE TO HYPE UP ADVERTISERS AND ASSOCIATE PUBLISHERS?

I’D HARDLY CALL 58 MARKETS “SERVING THE TRAVELER,” PERHAPS TRAVELHOST SHOULD COME UP WITH A NEW CATCH-PHRASE?

HOW ABOUT: “SERVING THE PRINTER.”

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