Archive for the ‘The Travelhost Sales Technique’ Category

“Broke and Divorced.” A Recent Comment on THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE…Another Victim of Travelhost Magazine and James Buerger.

August 1, 2011
This comment from a recent post is just one AP’s story, about their experience with Travelhost Magazine.
While this is an exceptionally sad one…it’s not the ONLY one by far.
There are MANY stories like this out there, some of which are told here on this blog…and some that may NEVER be told.
Don’t forget, Travelhost Magazine has been doing this for 43 years…take a look: it’s in the poster’s own words.
Submitted on 2011/08/01 at 3:58 PM

Wow… things have not changed at all at Travelhost. I too am one of their many victims. I purchased the rights to my territory back in 2007 knowing that there had been several failed attempts in just the previous few years. I know, i know… why would I do such a fool hardy, stupid thing?? Well, I was taken in by the slick Travelhost presentation, the lies and the promise of success because I was evidently the right person for the job. I had always dreamed of being in business for myself, and this opportunity just seemed a perfect fit for me and my background.

There had been someone there previously who had terminated their relationship with Travelhost only a few months prior, but I was told he left the business due to personal reasons and that now was the perfect time for me to jump onboard because this was an already developed market with established advertisers and cash flow that, given my experience and background, I could surely capitalize on and that I could essentially pick off where the former owner left off. Besides, they said, they were going to be with me every step of the way to help me, assist me, and support me in every way possible to ensure my success.

Incidentally, I tried to no avail to locate and contact the former owner but the numbers were disconnected and I was told that he had left the market and that there was no current address, e-mail or phone number on file. Yet another red flag I chose to ignore.

So, I dove into my retirement savings and took out a home equity loan and sent in my check for $60k (using the pre-addressed, pre-paid overnight Fed Ex envelope they conveniently provided me with). $30k of that was for the franchise rights to my territory, and the other $30k was pre-paid printing which was to cover my first two editions.

Well, I quickly came to realize that there were a number of reasons why the former owner (and the owners before him) failed. I also came to realize that there was a lot of bad blood between him and Travelhost and that by the time he walked away the market was so tainted and the business and Travelhost brand were both so irreversibly negatively perceived by the local business community that success was impossible.

Oh sure, I might have been able to turn things around in a few years, but I didn’t have a few years! I needed to start making money soon and I was led to believe that given the recent activity in the market there should have been some cash flow in place already and all I would need to do is build upon that. Well, that simply wasn’t the case. I tried and tried and tried to make a go of it but within the first year I realized it was not going to happen and that continuing my efforts would be fruitless and ultimately wipe me out financially.

So, I terminated my contracts and asked for a refund of my $30k prepaid printing funds because, after all, I never put out a magazine edition and thus the funds were not used. I reluctantly accepted the fact that I would lose the original $30k, but I thought for sure I was entitled to a refund of the other $30k as it was specifically for prepayment towards my first two magazine editions which were never produced or printed. I was told by several Travelhost executives that the ENTIRE amount was non-refundable and that it would be entirely my loss if I decided to walk away.

I asked if I could resell the business since it was my understanding that it was mine to sell and was told that because I had not produced a magazine edition that I, in fact, did not have the right to sell it even though I had bought the business and paid $60k for it which they were going to keep. My mind was blown! How can this be?? How can this be legal, I asked myself. I contacted an attorney, threatened legal action, and the next think I know I’m receiving certified letters from their lawyers explaining to me that all of this was in the agreements and that I signed them and there was nothing I could do about it. But they’d be happy to take it to court if I so desired.

Wow! I was floored. Less than a year ago they were loving me and telling me how great I was and how perfect I was for this. Then once they had my money that love quickly began to dissipate and before I knew it they were threatening to terminate my agreements, steal my entire investment and were basically saying to me “screw you!” and that they’ll gladly see me in court.

We went back and forth with this, I retained an attorney, and finally Travelhost said to me they were willing to negotiate. They told me they would allow me to terminate my relationship with Travelhost and that they would actively search for and find a new sucker… ummmm, I mean buyer… and that once they resold my market (which they assured me would take no time at all) they would then refund me my $30k, but only after they sell it and collect their money from the new sucker first.

So what was the catch? Well, all I had to do was sign documents agreeing to not say anything bad about Travelhost to anyone (especially potential suckers) and to only say good things. I felt bad, creepy and shady agreeing to such a thing and basically agreeing to be a liar on their behalf, but that was the only was I was going to ever see a dime of my money, my unused prepaid printing money, again. And, frankly, I needed that $30k… and still do.

So, fast forward to 2011 and guess what? They have yet to sell my territory and I have yet to see a dime of my money. I’ve been quiet up until now in hopes that something good might happen, but it never did and still hasn’t. I started doing some research and, after coming across this blog (and the rip off reports mentioned by Mr. Hickey), and after speaking to several people it has become very apparent and crystal clear that (a) their little empire is quickly crumbling and consequently they are never going to resell my territory and (b) I’ve been had, robbed and will never, ever see my money again.

I literally robbed my retirement savings and took out a loan to put together $60k… then flushed the entire amount down the toilet. But, there’s nothing I can do. I signed the contracts initially knowing full well the history of failure in my territory and no one held a gun to my head. I got caught up in the glitz and glamour of how they portrayed owning my own Travelhost franchise would be and simply made a bad decision. Actually, the worst decision of my life. And, by signing their little “keep quiet / gag order” I’ve relinquished any and all rights to pursue any further legal action.

They won and they won big time. They found an unsuspecting, overly trusting fool like me and literally robbed me of $60k and threw me out to dry. And, the fact that $30k of the total amount was specifically to cover all of my printing costs for my first two editions yet they’ve refused to refund even a small portion of it even though I never, ever put out a single magazine simply reinforces the fact that they are liars, cheaters and thieves.

The only thing I can do now is try to warn others. If I can somehow prevent this from happening to others then, in a way, it’s almost worthwhile. It’s too late for me. Because of this, I’m in debt and divorced. The loss of our nest egg was just too much for my marriage to withstand and my wife has long since left me and, of course, took my kids. I sold my house at a huge loss and now live in a one bedroom apartment.

I’m legally still under “gag orders” and so I can’t be specific as to the territory to which I’ve been referring to, but be assured that mine is not an unusual story. There are many, many. many others like me out there, although Travelhost takes steps to pay people off to keep their mouths shut. In retrospect, I’m sure they paid the guy who owned my territory off as well. I’m actually quite surprised, Mr. Hickey, that they haven’t paid you off yet and that you’re still able to speak freely. My life is in shambles and the last thing I need is Travelhost’s lawyers coming after me as they tend to do.

But again, perhaps my story might help others and, if so, then maybe some good did come form this after all.


PS> Despite my lack of blogging lately, many people still contact THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE on a regular basis about the Travelhost Magazine “business opportunity”  I encourage others to post their experiences.

The people (and legal system) need to know.

Travelhost’s inside back cover ad, a second look…

December 22, 2009

Here’s a snapshot of the inside back cover of every Travelhost Magazine out there.

Has anyone actually taken the time to read this ad?

"Take Control Of Your Future"

Travelhost has the same 40yr old success strategy...

It appears that what Travelhost Magazine is “selling” is the “freedom” of entrepreneurship.


It seems, after talking to many Associate Publishers, both present and past, that what you get from Travelhost is more along the lines of a JAIL SENTENCE!

There’s nothing FREE about this opportunity.  At all!

And, they’re marketing themselves to “single mothers?”

With a 90% chance of failing, Travelhost markets their “business opporunity” to single mothers?

Travelhost ought to be ashamed of themselves!

The Publisher’s Advocate Responds To A Reader About Travelhost’s Alleged Fraud.

December 11, 2009

First and foremost, there’s something that I’d like to make very clear to everyone reading this blog: Everything expressed in this blog is merely my opinion, and based on my experience with Travelhost Magazine over the last few years. These are not necessarily facts, yet I have not had anyone prove otherwise to this date.

If you or someone you know actually HAS proof that I have made a mistake, please send it over by clicking the link below, and I’ll be more than happy to change any statement I’ve made. I am committed to providing the information you need to know, in order to protect the investor from lack of disclosure. It’s just not right that Travelhost is allowed to operate this way, and hurt so many people.


OK, on with todays post.

Today, I was basically asked (via AIRMAIL) to name a specific situation where I believed that Travelhost has committed fraud. Ok, not a problem, that’s an easy one.

First, we need to define fraud. According to the free online dictionary, here’s the definition of fraud:



1. deliberate deception, trickery, or cheating intended to gain an advantage
2. an act or instance of such deception
3. something false or spurious his explanation was a fraud
4. Informal a person who acts in a false or deceitful way

[from Old French fraude, from Latin fraus deception]


Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

That being squared away, here’s just one instance where I believe Travelhost is committing fraud. According to Travelhost’s national media kit, on page 4, they state:

“Our Commitment To You”

“Published in 125+ local editions, TRAVELHOST Magazine can be found in the guestrooms of 8,856 of America’s finer hotels and reaches an estimated 1.3 million in- room guests per day. Travelers turn to TRAVELHOST for the best places to dine, shop, entertain and enjoy the cities we serve. Our reader demographics reflect one of the strongest buying markets – the upscale traveling public. “

Travelhost is not in 125+ local markets, and if they are, somebody please tell me where all these markets are. In my opinion, Travelhost is in far less markets, just look at the website. My guess is less than 90?

Attempting to sell ads by lying about how many local markets are printing Travelhost Magazine?

In My Humble Opinion, That’s fraud.

You’re just one sales pitch away from your new TRAVELHOST business!

November 19, 2009

Jeff Loudon told the story well in his “Travelheist Investor Blog” that he had going in the earlier part of the year. He tells the story quite well, and explains the circumstances better than I could, so why not just quote Loudon on this one. I copied that blog before it disappeared, thankfully, so I can bring you the info you need to know…Before you invest!

“The sales technique.”

“Upon reflection, the biggest deception is the TH sales technique. I must say it is a thing of beauty. I get called by a person from TH that has reviewed my resume on Monster. “You know Jeff, we were very impressed with your unique credentials, you know, we are extremely selective, but you just might have what it takes to become a Travelhost AP.”

In a subsequent conversation I’m told that about 1 out of 100 “applicants” are invited to Dallas and “about 1 out of 10” of the interviewees are “offered a distributorship.”

The concept sounds great so I head to Dallas on my own nickel for an “interview” for a perfect sounding endeavor. Pre-interview I get nothing but a slick brochure talking about how TH is such a great deal if you have what it takes. (Well, I also received a sample of “good magazines.” These were Ft Lauderdale, Orlando, Daytona Beach and several others…strangely, upon reflection, these were “successful” magazines….they must print many extras of these!). Note: I also received the contracts in advance of the “interview.”

Obviously, I have received no franchise disclosures and I’m pretty excited because this really sounds perfect. I have the initial interview with two nice guys who tell me more about TH and then comes the moment of truth…an hour and a half interview with the company chairman, “Mr. Buerger,” to see if I can persuade him to let me become a distributor…absolutely a beautiful set-up.

Phew…I find out early next week that I made the cut and am being offered the opportunity.

Here’s the beauty of it: How many of you in a “job interview” that you’ve paid the better part of $1K to attend, are going to ask the “Chairman” :

* How many times have you been sued?
* What’s the failure rate?
* Please give me names of everyone who has failed nationally?
* How many times has my market gone dark? Who were they?
* Gee, the plant tour where you showed me how cheaply and efficiently you can mass-produce Travelhost was impressive. I take it based on your unambiguous promise in the AP agreement about getting wholesale pricing, that you aren’t going to charge 2.5- 3 times wholesale for printing?
* What is the real success rate in selling these 2 pages of free national ads?
* How many APs in the last 5 years have collected the supposed 40% commission for placing national ads?

My guess is that some smarter people than I asked those questions and were summarily booted out the door, minus the “opportunity” and minus $1K

My point is, this is the essence of deceit, all of it in my opinion. If it’s a franchise, it is unlawful deceit. I also believe that it might be “unlawful deceit” even absent franchise law protection.