Travelhost Success Stories, In Their Own Words…Is This The “Travelhost Love” They Refer To On The Travelhost Website??

I’ve delayed the “Virtual Memorial for 2010” again, for what I believe to be a more interesting (and useful) bit of information.

Over the last year or so, needless to say, I’ve had many past Travelhost Associate Publishers contact me about their experience with Travelhost.

Except for a couple of undercover agents for James Buerger, there aren’t any positive stories.  Certainly nothing of the caliber they describe on the Travelhost website:

http://www.travelhost.com/travel-host/love/testimonials

http://www.travelhost.com/travel-host/love/marketplace2

http://www.travelhost.com/travel-host/love

http://www.travelhost.com/travel-host/love/marketplace

http://www.travelhostpublisher.com/

I would say that most of the Associate Publishers that have contacted me over the last year have had a different experience.  In fact, while I was a member of Travelhost’s “Advisory Board,” I remember doing a survey of the ENTIRE network of Travelhost Associate Publishers, and found that most were not having an experience anything like described in Travelhost’s advertisements.

Most of the stories from REAL associate publishers are buried as comments to previous posts, so I thought it would benefit everyone if I “uncovered” them here, in their own separate post. I’ve also commented on each one.

These are just a few of them:

Past Associate Publisher Comments#1

I just happened across this website today.  I read through it, took the survey, and felt I had to respond to the information provided and add my own Travelhost thoughts and experiences.

As a former TH Associate Publisher my story is probably pretty typical of many former AP’s, but just in case you wanted to know;

– My initial investment to TH was $50,000 ($25,000 for the “distribution” rights & $25,000 for the first two issues of the magazine.

– I published over 15 issues (every other month, was not told I could or should publish quarterly. Quarterly might have saved my business)

– I produced four TH maps during the course of my business.

– Total sales amounted to $268,500.  My costs ran approx. $250,000

– After 1 1/2 years publishing I had run out of money.

I called TH in desperation to see if maybe they might be able to offer suggestions or any type of help to get the business on its feet.  Up until that point I had heard from the business development folks only twice.  I talked to a gentleman who promised me a world of help and would guide me “step by step” through this process.  He said he would look over my ad count, expenses etc. and get back to me.  I never heard back.  After a week or so I called again and he said he had looked over everything and he was ready to talk about my business but was busy at that moment and asked if he could call me back.  I agreed and never heard back.  I called a couple more times each time leaving a message.  I never heard back from him.

– I decided to keep the business going and robbed my 401K because the business was making money but not enough to live on, but felt the business was close to breaking through.  I published eight more issues and burned through more than $60,000 of my retirement and all the savings of my family (more than $30,000 additional dollars).

– I called TH again a little over a year after the first set of calls and told them I was again out of money and done with the magazine. I talked to a new executive who listened and offered to lower my publishing costs, in half, and help me through this period.  He said I had the ad base and count to succeed and just needed to keep trying a little while longer (it didn’t matter, I was putting my family at to much risk). I said no that I was out of money and I asked to be released.  They agreed.

– Total lost in opportunity costs and investment, easily over $300,000.

– We (my family) had to sell our house to get out from under most of the debt I had incurred.  I ended up moving to another city to find work leaving my family behind.

– I found work similar to what I did prior to TH but have had to find another job at night to help pay off credit card bills.

– We will never financially recover from the experience.

However, I readily acknowledge that I signed the contract, I paid the money and published the magazine. I don’t think I have any basis to sue and I try not to be bitter over the experience.

THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE: contract or no contract, Travelhost had a responsibility to tell this guy that based on the results of the last 5 years, that his chances were slim to none…much closer to none. Travelhost’s failure to do so was not just morally wrong, and totally destructive, it was probably criminal fraud.  Trying not to be bitter, and moving on with your life is the best thing you can do.

Past Associate Publisher Comments#2

Happy New Year, Brian!

Just to add another tale of misfortune, I recently met a previous AP who stopped publishing three years ago. This unfortunate soul is indicative of what other publishers have endured and future publishers could endure. This former AP had to consolidate his debts associated with trying to keep his market going and still (!!!) has two more years to pay off that debt.

To any potential publishers looking at partnering with Travelhost consider yourself warned. Travelhost is no partner and they will smile as you crumble. You’d be better off launching a magazine on your own!

Good wishes for a healthy and happy New Year,

A former AP who escaped just in time…

THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE: If you knew how many people lost everything with Travelhost, you would be amazed.  So many people spend the next 5 years recovering financially, some never do…

Past Associate Publisher Comments#3

I got out before ever publishing for my territory. As part of the severance agreement, TH would refund my $30k prepaid and unspent publishing money once they resold the territory. Four years later and still waiting……

Any ideas for getting some level of financial relief?

THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE: At this point, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’d consult a lawyer if you have the time, energy, and resources.  I can point you in the right direction…

Past Associate Publisher Comments#4

 

Brian,

when you your blog first started I was not real happy with you or the blog.

The discomfort it caused was mainly because you were voicing what I had already figured out myself, but did not want to admit. As time went on I read each posting and knew that while you may have had your own point of view, there was nothing that I read that did not contain the truth. As an AP who had been printing with TH for 4 years,barely covering print costs, I was forced to ask myself some serious questions.

1. Did I want to be building my future with a company (brand) that was misrepresenting their past and current business successes to future APs.
2. by staying on as a TH AP was I contributing to the myth that TH was actually a good investment.
3. did I really want to have to defend TH to my hotel and advertising partners and if I did how believable would I be.
4. was continuing to pay TH the hyper-inflated printing costs they charge worth it in the long run considering the inevitability of TH facing multiple legal challenges, justified attacks to the brand, and the certainty that EVERY sophisticated advertiser would refuse to advertise with a brand that had so many skeletons in a closet that had the door wide open. (If and when the find out)
5. did the people I tried, unsuccessfully, to sell National and Regional ads to know that I was misrepresenting the distribution/readership numbers even when I didn’t know it?
6. How can I keep convincing my family that TH is a good company and worth continuing on with when I know that they have signed agreements with me and ALL AP’s promising “wholesale ” costs when I knew that those wholesale prices are roughly twice what could be found, with very little effort on the open market
I decide that I could no longer be a part of TH and am one of those AP’s that walked away. I chose to not “transition” my market because it would require me to sell the same bag of crap TH sells to unsuspecting buyers.

So here it is. Thank you for your persistence in getting the word out. Because of the spotlight you have focused on TH and it’s unseemly activities you have helped me to face the truth and get out with dignity and honor. Yes I poured a lot of money and effort to build my market and would have liked to have built it even stronger. But at the end of the day I’d rather walk away looking ahead than stayed a TH AP and wonder every day when I was going to lose more advertisers because they came to believe that the TH brand for 40 years was a money mill that has sucked the life out many otherwise successful entrepreneurs.

I have learned a lot in the past 4 years and I have no regrets having been associated with TH. But I am glad to be free from them now, while I can still face myself and the acquaintances I have made in the business when I see them in my community.

THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE: you are not alone, many people have done what you have done in the last year or so…the Travelhost Franchise has proved to be a losing battle, with 95+% of Associate Publishers eventually failing.  Not only have they lost money, but their sanity, dignity, family, homes, and many other more important things than money.

Past Associate Publisher Comments#4 

 

Hi Brian,

I am a former AP who would like to keep my name out because I still owe TH money.I was with TH from 9/05 – to my last magazine Nov/Dec/Jan 2009. Had to lay it down because I pretty much lost all my advertisers due to the economy. I may have been one of the lucky ones for lasting 4 years. I really enjoy reading your posts. I have a question. Are you doing all this to set yourself up for a class action? I’m a ditto to your other post as I was also told that I could make 6 figures by “sell, sell, sell”. When I was close to the end of my time with TH, I asked if I could make payments so I could at least get the magazine out. I was told yes, but the stipulations were break the payments in half. I told TH I needed a guarantee that my magazines would ship and then I would pay them. They told me they couldn’t guarantee that. I told them then how could I pay you off if I don’t have magazines to give my advertisers and get them to my hotels. They basically told me that until they had they’re money, the magazines would stay on pallets. I had already owed them from the last printing. Anyway, needless to say, my Feb/Mar/Apr 09 never went out.You seem to have all your ducks in a row. I’m surprised TH hasn’t asked you to take your blog down like Jeff Louden. Your welcome to use this post if you think it will help. So, is this leading to a class action? If so, include me. I’m broke, but what ever you need from me, let me know. I have about 20 quotes from other printers that I could supply. I was paying $14,500 for12,000 mags. Towards the end, I just bought the minimum, 7500. That cost me$11k. With some of my other quotes from outside printers, I could have got 12,000 magazines with perfect binding, 100lb cover delivered to me from $5k – 8K.Talk to you soon. Keep up the good work.

THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE: You’re right. You paid double + for printing, you were convinced to spend more of your own money on a losing propostion (that Travelhost knows about), and you were told that you could make 6 figures easily by following the Travelhost business model.  It’s classic, and it’s criminal.

Past Associate Publisher Comments# ~ PERHAPS THE BEST “SUCCESS STORY” GOING FOR 2010

Brian,

Thanks for posting your blog and information. It saved me from contacting them and learning the hard way. If it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. It does not matter how long ago the court case was to make a point. Good luck with this fight.

Gary

GOOD POINT, GARY.

Any of these comments and the associated remarks can be found within this blog.  They remain un-altered.  I wish someone would write in with an actual Travelhost success story,” to offset all this BAD NEWS.

THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE

PS…THE FRAUD CONTINUES!

http://www.travelhost.com/travel-host/history

I hope this information isn’t being used to sell “regional” or “national” advertisements by the Travelhost Associate Publishers out there…by the way, how many Travelhost Associate Publishers ARE STILL OUT THERE?

4 Responses to “Travelhost Success Stories, In Their Own Words…Is This The “Travelhost Love” They Refer To On The Travelhost Website??”

  1. Donna Says:

    It’s great to share all these stories but Enough is Enough is Enough! Time to take action – Don’t Delay – File an FTC complaint today! Right now – as you read this post! It costs nothing but could bring some strong results against Travelhost which has violated Federal Franchise laws – False Wholesale Pricing – Charging of Marketing Fees that you weren’t aware of – these people have caused constant miserty to faithful hard-working AP’s.

    I agree with all the horror stories as I have experienced this too! Don’t you think it’s time to ACT???

    Please respond!

    • bdhickey Says:

      Hello,

      Thanks for writing in! I wholeheartedly agree with your statement: enough is enough!

      I’ve posted twice on how to file an FTC complaint, for those AP’s who feel that their rights have been violated. In fact, I’ll post it again:

      https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en

      Many people have already filed a complaint, and there is an agent that has been made aware of the “Travelhost scam.” Hopefully, as more and more people file complaints, the FTC will finally feel this is important enough to start a full fledged investigation.

      It’s clear to me, and many others, that Travelhost has violated the FTC’s franchise laws, and it’s clear to the FTC that Travelhost qualifies as a franchise…but getting someone to actually do something about it. Well, that’s a whole other issue. If you, or anyone reading this blog has any ideas on how to expedite justice to those who have been hurt by Travelhost…please respond!

      This poster is right….it’s time to ACT. Doing nothing, at this point, is part of the problem…and you know what they say:

      If you’re not part of the solution, you may be part of the problem….

      Thanks again for your support and continued reading.

      THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE

  2. Former Employee Says:

    Just remember, in the early 90s the FTC did come down hard on Travelhost, and they lost out BIG! The left their fancy digs in North Dallas and crammed into the plant where they now are. Buerger put a good face on it, saying he always wanted everything under one roof. OK, good one, but the truth was they were hit hard by the FTC then. I have heard from several folks who still work there that things are very bad. I really don’t know how they’re holding on. Scamming just does not work as well as it used to now in the age of the internet.

  3. former franchisee Says:

    “Former employee”, you’re absolutely right. Scamming doesn’t work as well in today’s digital age of information. However, what can you expect when you have a 75-year old man running EVERYTHING there who doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer. His daughter has completely abandoned the business and from what I hear she hasn’t been seen there in a couple of years. And that plant their in now is a joke. old, musty dilapidated surrounded by prostitutes, strip clubs and crack heads with every piece of equipment and furniture in the place pre-1970. What a joke.

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