The Travelhost Franchise Issue…Another Look.

For those who are on the fence as to whether Travelhost is really a franchise or not, lets take a look at some compelling evidence. Take a look at this:

Todays Best Franchises? I thought Travelhost WASN’T a franchise? What’s going on here?

(Here’s the PDF, for when Travelhost deletes the advertisement…it’s only a matter of time.)


Now let’s take a look at the Travelhost website:

Q: Is the Travelhost relationship a franchise?

A: Travelhost is structured as a distributorship, rather than as a franchise. Associate Publishers have the freedom to establish their own business and marketing plans, time schedules and routines – yet operate in coordination with a strong national organization with an established track record. While the publication format, submission guidelines and non-local content are determined by Travelhost, the Distributor/AP is given wide latitude and autonomy over its business operations.

Travelhost’s main defense has been that they don’t have a “prescribed” marketing plan for their associate publishers. However, every AP leaves Travelhost HQ with a prescription for Travelhost success! (and it still fails 90% of the time, but its not the prescription that’s bad, it’s their pricing…)

All APs leave the Travelhost “TIPS” (Typical Industry Practices) with a specific plan of what they need to do to be successful.

It details the number of calls they need to make, setting up a distribution plan, etc. For instance, my plan would be called “The Travelhost of Westchester Plan.” It is very specific!

Travelhost also has two other market documents…the “Blueprint for Success” and “The Roadmap to Success.”

All three of these documents are clearly prescribed market plans for each market, and are regularly followed up on by the Market Development Department.

Dave Portener actually just did a webinar on “How to be a successful AP.” It can’t get any clearer than that folks.

It’s recorded and posted on the AP site!

Now…sometimes I get people that still ask me why it’s important to recognize that Travelhost is a franchise. Well, there are a few good reasons:

1. It’s the LAW.

2. The LAW requires franchises to DISCLOSE their FAILURE RATE.

3. Had any of us KNOWN the failure rate BEFORE we invested or bought into the “Travelhost business model,” we likely would NOT HAVE DONE IT.

These laws are put in place to protect people like you and I from companies that mislead people.

When will Travelhost STOP breaking the law, and start being honest with investors?

5 Responses to “The Travelhost Franchise Issue…Another Look.”

  1. Former Employee Says:

    I’m reading your blog each week and more and more I sit and say, “Oh, yeah, it all makes even more sense now!”

    With all of this coming to light, Travelhost has really two strikes against it: This questionable business model, and the fact that the magazine business itself is becoming more and more of a dinosaur every day. With so many gadgets and gizmos that we carry that give us instant access to local eateries, shopping and entertainment, I can see advertisers eventually saying no to this type of publishing. It’s sad really as I prefer print media over electronic, but I do have to change with the times as everyone does.

    But will Travelhost? I often think of what a golden opportunity they have always had but have never had the, shall I say, sophistication and brainpower to bring it to the 21st century. Don’t get me wrong: There is a lot of brainpower at Travelhost, no doubt, but these people must place great ideas and concerns within the Jim Buerger box that stopped growing somewhere in the late 1980s. You mention their plan for the website. My god, other magazines have been on board with the internet for how many years now? And this is still a work in progress? I’m afraid it’s too little too late. The world is not waiting for Travelhost to get with the times. They’ve been left behind in the dust, I’m afraid.

    But as I said, it’s too bad. What a incredible waste.

  2. Concerned, long-time AP Says:

    Boy you’re right on. Left in the dust indeed.
    It’s like the folks at Travelhost were in some underground bomb facility since the Cold War and only just now stepped outside for the first time in 25 years.

    Sophistication is not in the vocabulary in Dallas, and it’s a shame. Shameful the way they treat people too.

  3. another AP teetering Says:

    Dear Travelhost,

    It’s time to take a hard look at your business model and ask yourself, Mr. Buerger, “Is it REALLY working?” Given that you’ve invested OUR hard earned dollars in this internet project, have you given consideration to the fact that no one will care to use it if there isn’t enough “market” information to make it worth looking at in the first place. Consider this, Joe wants to plan a trip to Los Angeles. He’ll give that Travelhost site a try. Joe goes to the site and discovers there is no information for Los Angeles. Or New York City, or Chicago or Houston, the four largest cities in the country. Joe decides it’s mediocre (or crap) and never returns and certainly doesn’t recommend it to his friends or family. So much for that grand experiment. You missed your opportunity to make a great first impression. It’s not enough for the website to look pretty it has to deliver the goods to the end user.

    Consider this business scenario. Travelhost decides it better serves its investors, the APs, and outsources the printing function. In fact, Travelhost is able to negotiate even lower rates because of the volume of publications. There’s a reduction in corporate overhead and associated costs. Sorry to the production folks in Dallas but maybe the printer could hire you because of the increase in workload. Ahh, capitalism! Now the APs are finally on a level playing field with their local competitors. In fact, the AP’s association with the Travelhost brand is now admired and desired! I can be more profitable as part of the TravelHost network! I will seek out a market and prosper! APs will be happy to share a portion of their revenues with Travelhost because corporate has indeed enhanced the value of their local business, the national brand shines and market growth booms!

    More APs in more markets – do the math! – this is the key to the internet project’s success. Based on what we know now, you need someone on the ground in that market to ensure (1) information about the market is loaded and accurately maintained and (2) the major cities and tourist destinations are represented to a potential trip planner online. Do you follow? Or maybe you don’t, which only fuels other speculations.

    You don’t need a big staff in Dallas and, granted, I know you’ve let people go recently. And I must say your timing was priceless. You don’t need to run a print shop, you need a strong IT staff who can keep up with the times in cyberspace. You need to have robust content to keep users coming back for more. I’m afraid you’re still frightfully behind the competition and they’re moving forward faster than you. We are all being left behind. Did you hear the collective sigh?

    Let the local markets determine how to best represent their markets. Some markets will be sophisticated cities, some markets with a slower pace of life. There are different levels of expectations and we suffer on the sophistication end of the spectrum by using a cookie-cutter layout. Publishing a magazine is a creative process coupled with a business process. Let us create the best magazine we can for our market!

    And, then, of course, it brings us to the covers. Another collective sigh? Let’s be clear, Travelhost is the brand, not the cover artwork. Artwork changes, brands don’t. Covers are the first impression, covers make you want to open the magazine to learn more. Sadly, a cover of a pear, a mask and boa, or a man’s tie begs no questions. They’re BORING!

    Advisory board, hear our (diminishing) voices, make our wishes known, don’t let our struggling network be ignored, don’t let us down. Or better yet, refuse to be on the board because, quite frankly, its seems to be a waste of your time.

    Mr. Buerger, you have some very smart people in your network, try listening for a change and you might, just might, learn you don’t know everything, maybe there’s a better way, you can still learn, too.

    I think I hear Travelhost calling, “shut up and sell!”

    Another day, another nickel.

  4. Tony Says:


  5. 2010 in review: The Publisher’s Advocate Blog…The Travelhost Magazine Opportunity Exposed. « Publishing Industry Practices Says:

    […] The Travelhost Franchise Issue…Another Look. February 2010 4 comments 5 […]

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