Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Two Year Club?

April 22, 2010

The 2-Year Club?

As you can imagine, I get a lot of questions here at The Publisher’s Advocate Blog.  Most of them have to do with the Travelhost business model, and “what’s going on with Travelhost” in the future.

Well, I can’t predict the future for Travelhost, but I will speculate on a few different things:

1. In my opinion, Travelhost can not sustain its business with Buerger’s business model.  He’s been BUSTED on his 40-year scam, and the gravy train is now over!  He will have to correct his model to survive.
2. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to see the problems with Buerger’s business model.  Just about everyone that gets “burned in the system” knows the deal.  Buerger’s model, minus the problems, would be a good place to start.
3. It wouldn’t be very hard for a group of publishing entrepreneurs to fix the problems with the TH business model, and compete directly with TH and win.

It’s my opinion that Buerger will never change his business model, regardless of how much pain it causes his AP network, or himself. He’d rather put his associates out of business, or fail in his own business, at the expense of his own ego. 

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

It’s a shame.

There is a good side to this, however.  The idea of an in-room guide for hotels is a good one, providing it equates to a mutually beneficial situation for everyone involved

And, there are many entrepreneurs willing to engage in this type of situation, many of who were previously “sold” on Travelhost…as if it were mutually beneficial to begin with.

This brings me to my next thought.

There are quite a few AP’s who have been “churned and burned” by the system, that are coming up on their second anniversary of “churning and being burned.”

In other words, they are at or beyond the 2 year covenant not to compete. 

If these people were entered into a corrected system upon the expiration of their non-compete agreements, their previous fruitless efforts (now absent the infamous Buerger “monkey” on their back) could prove to be profitable now!

Call it, a “born-again” publishing experience, if you will.

So the goal of my post today, is to put “feelers” out there, to see how many of my readers are reaching this stage of the game…and if you may be interested in engaging in conversation about a new (national) in-room magazine.

I’m talking about a magazine that will compete with Travelhost directly in hotel rooms throughout the country, only better…because it would be a mutually beneficial business proposition.

All those “terrible” things I’ve discussed here about Travelhost, might just be totally absent in this new business model. Furthermore, we could have a “turn of the millennium version” of Travelhost, rather than Mr. Buerger’s retro 70’s version. (of course, with a new name)

Think about: local covers, control over layout, and flexible paper quality/pressrun/frequency that fit each AP’s market.

If you want 160# aqueous on the cover, so be it…and without a 400% mark-up?

Think about real “wholesale” printing costs…without the Buerger 200% mark-up?

Who knows, we might even go out and buy a website for the network for $30K, and not charge the “partner publishers” for content they work so hard to generate! 

The very content that will serve the traveler…

Wouldn’t it be nice to make a decent living and have a “long and rewarding relationship” like Jeff Loudon has?

I don’t have all the specifics just yet, and I know this post will spark a plethora of new questions…but that’s good.  I believe that I could assemble a team that would be able to create a plan that works for everyone, without a lot of start-up costs to the partners…if any.

If you have a genuine interest in something like this, please click the link below, and let me know.  I will not share your name with anyone, like I said…I’m just checking the temperature at this time.

There’s only two things that I’d like to mention up front:

1. I am not looking to violate my own non-compete in the Westchester & Hudson Valley New York market, and
2. I’m not looking to recruit existing AP’s from the Travelhost network or otherwise advise you to breach any agreements you have with Travelhost.

I’m interested in the possibility of creating a nation-wide network of entrepreneurs that want to run their own magazine within a network that contains NONE of the limitations and burdens of the Travelhost network.

And ONLY with partners that are able to join us, that are not bound by Travelhost in any way.

Are you about to have been out of Travelhost for 2 years?

If so, perhaps we should talk.

Click Here if you’re interested. 

I’ll be in touch.

Some Questions To Ask Travelhost Magazine Before You Become An Associate Publisher…

April 13, 2010

I get a lot of requests as to what questions people should ask (Travelhost) when doing their due diligence on the Travelhost Magazine opportunity. This blog post contains some basic questions, that when asked, should produce the results you’re looking for.

Travelhost will undoubtedly try and avoid most of these questions, as the answers are probably not going to be positive ones that tout the successes they usually claim. Under each proposed question, I’ve provided an explanation, a link, or further questioning that will help you along in your due diligence.

While there are many more questions to ask, I believe that by the time you’re done with these, you’ll be ready to make a decision. Perhaps even after asking only three or four of them.

As always, please understand that this information is for due diligence purposes only, and I’m not a lawyer giving anyone advice…nor do I claim that the information here is 100% accurate to each detail. (That’s why I encourage prospective AP’s to ask these questions, especially since no one (not Travelhost or ANY current/past Associate Publisher) has provided proof that anything in this blog is FALSE.)

And…to this day, I still get nasty letters from Travelhost telling me to stop this blog…basically telling me that I’m not entitled to my opinion.

I wonder why?

Why does Travelhost go so far out of their way to withhold this information from you, when it’s so pertinent to your due diligence?

And why do they claim I’m harming them with false statements, when they can’t even tell me what statements are false?

Just because Travelhost doesn’t LIKE the information in this blog, doesn’t mean it’s “false. ” And it certainly doesn’t mean I’m slandering, defaming, or “tortiously interfering” either!

I’m just trying to protect new investors from being harmed by Travelhost.

In fact, I encourage you to show these questions to your legal council, and ask them via conference call with a Travelhost representative!

My bet is that you won’t get half-way through this list before Travelhost decides your line of questioning is too much for them to handle, and they’ll disqualify you as a candidate.

Q: What is the main benefit to publishing an in-room travel publication with Travelhost?

(Hint: It can’t be the huge network of Associate Publishers, as that has dwindled down to HALF of what it used to be. Could it be that Travelhost advertises itself as a FRANCHISE, but doesn’t follow franchise laws? Or, perhaps it’s the special “WHOLESALE PRICING” you’re entitled to as an AP? (double what everyone else in the biz pays))

Q: How many Associate Publishers are there in the US?

(Ask how many AP’s are actually actively publishing today? And, what is the benefit of the optional Associate Publisher agreement, since there are so few AP’s in the Travelhost network now? Meaning, if AP’s couldn’t sell NATIONAL AD SPACE when there were 135 publishers, how can they sell it when there’s only HALF that many now? What value does that agreement have today?)

Q: How many associates did Travelhost lose in 2009?

Ask how many:

1. Quit outright,

2. Disappeared without a trace,

3. Went broke, or

4. Were terminated because they couldn’t pay their (Unusually High) printing bill anymore. If they tell you it’s any less than 40, they may be lying to you.

Also, ask to speak to a few of them, for due diligence purposes! In the event that Travelhost forgets, here’s a partial list of those people you might want to contact:

Dead markets for 2009:

Monterey. Baton Rouge. San Luis Obispo. Cincinnatti. Charlottesville. Denver. Gainesville. Rockford. South Bend. Lafayette, Indiana. New Hampshire. Ann Arbor. Charlotte. Knoxville. Rochester. Waco. Westchester. Orange County. Houston. Minneapolis. Bloomington. Santa Barbara. Long Beach. Modesto. Boston. DC. Atlanta. Puerto Rico. Hawaii. Ogden. Kansas City. Bend. Ruidoso, nm…San Diego North, Sioux Falls, Stockton, Toronto.

Q: How many new associates joined Travelhost in 2009?

(Ask how many new investors joined the Travelhost franchise, and how many of those are still around today. Also, ask to speak to a few of them, for due diligence purposes. Ask them to speak to markets that represent the majority, not the minority…)

Q: What is the failure rate for new AP’s?

(They wont give it to you, because it’s miserably high. To figure it out yourself, ask:

1. How many new AP’s joined Travelhost for each of the last 3 years: 2007, 2008, 2009.

2. Then ask how many are left from each of those three years: 2007, 2008, 2009.

(Hint: My research shows that Travelhost has a tendency in past years, to lose about 30-40 franchisees per year, and then recruit 30-40 new franchisees per year. Over the course of 3 years, that’s 90-120 AP’s lost, and 90-120 AP’s gained! Since they USUALLY carry about 125 AP’s in the network…do the math!

The FAILURE RATE is nearly 100%!

Q: Why does Travelhost NOT consider itself to be a franchise?

(They’ll most likely tell you it’s due to lack of a specific marketing plan for it’s Associate Publishers. So ask them this: When I join Travelhost as an AP, do you provide any training or marketing advice?

Then ask them if you’ll be required to sign a document that says they don’t provide that help…you likely will be. Ask about “section 3 of the Travelhost Distributorship Agreement on Autonomy, and why you have to sign something that says they don’t offer marketing help, when they clearly do?)

Q: How much money does the typical associate publisher make yearly?

(Travelhost will show you a case study or two about markets that do really well, like Branson or Ft. Lauderdale. Make sure you ask if they are representative of the network as a whole.

If they tell you yes, they’re lying!

Most Travelhost Associate Publishers go broke in the first couple years of publishing. A few select markets do well, where tourism is high, and the AP is really savvy. The rest go broke from overcharges and lack of disclosure from Travelhost, IMHO.)

Q: How many people have operated in my geographical territory before me?

(You may find that your proposed “territory” has been worked many times over, unsuccessfully. Due to the high failure rate, Travelhost “comes and goes” in many markets, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of hotels and advertisers. This can make life difficult.

Be sure to consider this, as some markets have other publications in the rooms as competition. These companies most likely put out nicer products, and have far less overhead…leaving YOU in a bad spot. Travelhost effectively puts its Associate Publishers at a competitive disadvantage, in my opinion, by putting all of the financial burden on the Associate Publishers.)

Q: What is Travelhost’s definition of “wholesale” pricing?

(Ask about point number 6 of the optional “Associate Publishers Agreement.” It gives you the “right” to what Travelhost calls “WHOLESALE PRICING.” Ask what their definition of wholesale is, and whether it’s cheaper than the printing and production you could get anywhere else. If they tell you it is…check it out yourself. My research, and the research of many other AP’s has shown Travelhost pricing to be DOUBLE, IF NOT TRIPLE, in some cases.)

Q: Does Travelhost offer discounts to any of their Associate Publishers?

(Recent survey results on this blog show that they do, but some AP’s get discounts, and most don’t.

Why is that?

Ask them about this, and ask them if you will be one of the lucky ones?

While you’re at it, ask them why they don’t treat all franchisees the same?

And, ask them if they’re discounting some AP’s in order to keep the market going. Then ask them why they don’t try to keep ALL markets going.

Finally, ask them why one market is more important than another…and what is the criteria for being a “salvageable market.”)

These are just a few questions that you might want to ask, during your due diligence on the Travelhost opportunity. There are many more, but I think you’ll have enough information with these questions, to make a fair and balanced decision about Travelhost.

Good luck, you’ll need it!

P.S. Ask them one more question while you’re at it…

Ask them how many AP’s they’ve recruited so far this year. (2010)

Then ask them why so few?

They may blame it on an “extortionist.”

Personally, I believe it could be because of the due diligence now available online.

Since Travelhost won’t disclose what you need to know, someone has to do it.

Until then, you have The Publisher’s Advocate.

P.P.S.

Remember my posting a couple months back, entitled “where in the world is Jeff Loudon?”

Well, it seems that after a long Winter, he’s back in the saddle again!

Only, he never printed a Winter issue???

(For those who don’t remember the situation, here’s a bit of background:

When Jeff Loudon got extremely frustrated with Travelhost (because he was repeatedly lied to by Portenor and Buerger) he recruited ME as a “liaison,” because he refused to talk with Travelhost directly. Jeff Loudon figured any direct contact with Travelhost could lead to them lying about what he said. At the time I was in relatively good graces with Travelhost, so I agreed to try to mediate the situation. Jeff trusted me because we both fruitlessly spent hundreds of hours together trying to get Travelhost to change, met by lies and stalling. Jeff, like me eventually, wanted to force Travelhost to stop ripping people off, including himself. When Loudon concluded that both Buerger and Portenor were hopeless liars, with no hope for trust, he started his blog and told me that he wanted ONE of 2 things: a lot of cash…(mid six figures)-to divorce himself from Travelhost, OR Travelhost to stop ripping him off, by LOWERING his printing costs by HALF and allow him to only print as needed. His overall goal was to prevent others from meeting his fate, so he blogged away. I later got an email from Jeff saying in effect that I was fired as his liaison, and he would no longer discuss Travelhost with me….total silence for a couple of months, his blog goes down and the only thing he would say was a chant: “I look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with Travelhost….with a noticeable chuckle.

We still trade emails every once in awhile, but Travelhost is taboo for Jeff. Let’s fast forward to now. His last issue was in October…yes, I’ve been watching!)

Jeff Loudon must have gotten exactly what he asked for…see, Jeff Loudon wasn’t going to continue with Travelhost, unless he got:

1. A price reduction, so that he pays actual wholesale printing prices, and…

2. A flexible printing schedule, so he didn’t have to print a magazine during the “off season.”

So it seems that Jeff Loudon got what he wanted. (Three issues per year, and discounted pricing??) It’s plain as day, when you look at the magazine online…

Wouldn’t it be nice if Travelhost would treat EVERYONE in the AP network with the same respect.

It seems you have to be a lawyer to get what you’re contractually entitled to, when dealing with Travelhost. I asked Travelhost for WHATEVER SPECIAL DEAL JEFF LOUDON GOT, but they won’t even bother to respond to me about that. It must be special, or TOP SECRET!

And everyone thought Jeff Loudon disappeared!

I guess we all know what he means when he says “I look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with Travelhost.”

Here’s an idea…Mr. Buerger, why don’t you give EVERYONE in your network the “Jeff Loudon Deal,” so that THEY TOO, can look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with Travelhost?”

Travelhost Magazine Franchises That Died In 2009…A Virtual Memorial Part II

March 16, 2010

About the same time last year, Jeff Loudon posted a virtual memorial for the markets that died in 2008. He called these markets the “Living Dead.” This is because even though the franchise had failed, the magazines were still available online at Travelhost.com.

To carry on this annual tradition, I’ve decided to post the markets that died in 2009.

This list may be incomplete, and is to the best of my knowledge correct. If I’ve made a mistake, please email me at the link to your right, and I’ll either add or subtract a market from the list. These markets are in no specific order.

Perhaps, if you’re a prospective Associate Publisher, for your due diligence you may want to contact a few of these people to talk about their experience with Travelhost? (Googling the market + Travelhost should get you the results needed.)

Dead markets for 2009: Rest In Peace…

Evansville, IN

Baton Rouge, LA.

San Luis Obispo, CA.

Cincinnati, OH.

Charlottesville, VA.

Gainesville, FL.

Rockford, IL.

South Bend, IN.

Lafayette, IN.

New Hampshire

Ann Arbor, MI.

Charlotte, NC.

Knoxville, TN.

Rochester, MN.

Waco, TX.

Westchester, NY.

Orange County, CA.

Houston, TX.

Minneapolis, MN.

Bloomington, IN.

Santa Barbara, CA.

Long Beach, CA.

Modesto, CA.

Boston, MA.

D.C.

Atlanta, GA.

Puerto Rico

Hawaii

Ogden, UT.

Kansas City, MO.

Bend, OR.

Ruidoso, NM.

San Diego North, CA.

Sioux Falls, SD.

Stockton, CA.

Toronto, Canada.

Chicago, IL.

Please keep in mind, every one of the entrepreneurs who ran a Travelhost franchise were hand-picked by Travelhost to be successful. These people were all hard-working, smart, creative people with a business background. So, I leave my readers with one question today:

Why did all of these hard-working entrepreneurs, who represent nearly half of the current Travelhost network, fail?

(Please keep in mind, these people were hand-picked by Travelhost.)

The Survey Results That Travelhost Magazine Doesn’t Want YOU To Know…

February 23, 2010

One week ago, I placed 10 simple survey questions on this blog, and the results are in.

You can still scroll down below this post to fill out the survey if you wish, as the results will continue to be calculated. However, after a week of exposure, I believe the results are quite clear.

I would like to personally thank all of the people who took the time to complete the survey, as your time is very valuable.

Taking the time to fill out the survey, and the answers that have been provided, have led me to certain conclusions and opinions that I will discuss below. In a nutshell, the results are exactly as I had thought all along, so this survey adds validity to my blog posts over the last few months.

Please keep in mind that the results acquired in this survey reflect the opinions of the people who took the survey. Not all people answered all questions, but we had nearly 300 people who visited the site in the last week, many who answered our survey. These people were not contacted, remain un-identified, and will continue to remain that way. This was an opportunity to participate anonymously, and was a success, in my opinion…especially for the first time out!

To start, 57% of the people who took the survey are current Travelhost Associate Publishers, 29% are past AP’s, and 14% were people who were considering the Travelhost “Opportunity.”

68% of these people believe that Travelhost is NOT an “ethical company,” with 18% undecided, and a whopping 14% feeling that they are an ethical company. I didn’t ask for anyone to justify this feeling, it was just a question of perception.

When asked whether people were told about Travelhost’s success rate during initial discussions with HQ, 89% of people said they were told nothing. 11% say they were told what the success rate was, even though I didn’t ask what they were told. I’m assuming these people may have been told how many people have tried the business in their particular market, not necessarily told that over-all 90% of people fail in this business?

When asked specifically if anyone was told they could make 3 or 400k per year as an AP, 33% of people said YES. Another 38% said they did not remember the specific numbers, but were led to believe they could EASILY make A LOT of money as an AP. The other 29% of people who answered this survey said they were not told this information.

When asked if Travelhost informed them that they would be paying more than double what other publishers pay for printing and production as an AP, 95% of people said NO. Only 5% felt that Travelhost informed them that the publishing prices were as high as they are. Not one person said they didn’t know, which was our third option, which leads me to believe that they were paying attention to the overhead costs portion of the deal!

When asked whether paying Travelhost an extra 30k per year was “worth it,” 70% of respondents said NO. 20% were undecided, and 10% said they thought Travelhost was worth spending 30k per year on. Perhaps those people who own highly successful markets, billing out 500k per year plus feel this way, as they pay far less of a “royalty” to Travelhost as a percentage of their gross sales?

85% of people believe that this extra 30K per year on average paid to Travelhost is in fact a “royalty,’ and 15% of people do not believe it is. If it’s not a royalty, I’m not sure what it is…perhaps just overcharges?

84% of the respondents felt that by becoming a Travelhost Associate Publisher, they would be successful because of the Travelhost business plan. 11% said they felt they would not be successful because of a Travelhost business plan, and 5% didn’t know. So, it’s clear that people knew that a Travelhost business plan exists, as most people in the survey felt that was their “formula for success.” Obviously, Travelhost must not have told them that on average, 90% of people fail with the business plan or they would not have felt that way?

100% of people who took the survey said that Travelhost offered them a marketing plan! This is the one and only survey question that achieved 100% agreement. The only problem I see, is that on the second page of the Travelhost Distributorship Agreement, point #3 states:

Autonomy – Distributor shall at all times retain autonomy in its general business operations and sales practices. No marketing plan, program or system is or shall be prescribed, suggested or recommended by Publisher, and Distributor agrees to be solely responsible for the selection and establishment of its own marketing plan, program or system for selling advertising for inclusion within the Publication, and for distribution of the Publication within the Designated Area. Publisher has not offered to provide and is not required by the terms of this agreement to provide any significant training, advice or assistance to the Distributor. Publisher has not represented and does not represent that Distributor will earn or is likely to earn a profit.

This is straight from the AP agreement that Travelhost wrote. This also happens to be their biggest reason why they don’t think they’re a FRANCHISE. They say they have no “prescribed marketing plan,” yet 100% of the people who responded to this survey said they got marketing help!

Here’s another interesting survey question…when asked if anyone had contacted Travelhost headquarters about a discount on publishing, 22% of people said that they were actually given a discount by Travelhost.

However, 44% were told that Travelhost doesn’t discount at all! And, the other 22% (part of the 66%, or 2/3 of the respondents) were told to just “go out and sell more ads!” (as if that wasn’t the whole goal in the first place, why would someone NEED a discount if they were selling enough ads to begin with?)

Either way, why does Travelhost treat each associate publisher differently?

Why do they lie to 2/3 of the respondents, and give the other 1/3 a price break?

Finally, when asked if people were worried that the Travelhost executive staff has been cut nearly completely, 89% of people said that it worried them.

I agree with them.

The interesting thing is that 11% of people actually said they didn’t care what was going on over at Travelhost HQ…even though their money is going to FUND what’s going on at HQ!

I guess Travelhost has created what is perceived as a “quasi-government” situation, as most people just “pay the taxes” but don’t pay attention to where the money goes? Or perhaps they only care about succeeding in their own market, and ignore the fact that the NETWORK is Travelhost’s biggest asset?

In conclusion, a few things are obvious to me:

1. Travelhost is a franchise that offers a business plan, a trademark for royalties, and a prescribed marketing plan.
2. Travelhost does not follow franchise rules. By not disclosing pertinent info to prospective franchisees, they cause many people to make investments they would not have made if they knew the high failure rate.
3. Travelhost has mislead investors, and has treated each associate publisher differently. Some people get discounts, the rest get overcharged until they go broke. Then Travelhost goes out and sells the franchise to another unsuspecting investor. And the cycle continues.

It’s as plain and simple as that. The rest, I leave up to your interpretation…but this is only the tip of the ice-burg. More surveys will follow, but for now, I leave you with one new survey question to ponder:

A Brief Survey For Current And Past Travelhost Associate Publishers…

February 16, 2010

Hello everyone, thank you for your continued support!

We’ve had such a great number of followers at The Publishers Advocate Blog, and we were hoping to gain some insight as to how some of you feel about certain things I’ve been blogging about.  Your opinions and input is valuable, and I’m hoping you’ll consider participating.

I know most of you are hesitant about engaging in the conversation on this blog, from fear of retaliation from Travelhost. Here’s an opportunity to respond anonymously to a set of questions, that would help me in understanding our readers better.

The Publisher’s Advocate is here for everyone, and will continue to be here until the situation is solved. By answering the questions below, I will know if I’m on track with my priorities or not. Please take just a few moments to click on the answers that represent the way you feel.

There are ten basic questions to get us started. If we have good results, I’ll propose another set of more specific questions in a few days. Please know that I will not know who you are if you answer the questions, I’ll only know the results, which I will post with the next posting.

As always, thank you for your time…

If you’re a prospective Associate Publisher, please just answer the questions that make sense to you.

By ethical, I mean do you perceive Travelhost to be operating by most business standards.  AKA they tell you what you believe to be the truth, they treat all people the same, they treat all people fairly, and they follow the laws of the state in which you operate your business, as well as federal laws.

Meaning, did they inform you that more than 90% of people who have become an AP have failed?

Meaning, did Travelhost make it sound like most AP’s are easily making six-figures per year?

Meaning, did Travelhost inform you that their publishing prices were higher than any independent places you could produce and print? With or without the absence of value.

Meaning, do you feel that paying double (about 30k for most AP’s) is worth the marketing and support that Travelhost does on a yearly basis. Keep in mind, Travelhost collects more than a million dollars per year on average in money “earmarked” for marketing!

Meaning, do you feel that the extra money paid to Travelhost is in lieu of paying royalties, like most franchises charge?

Meaning, did you buy into Travelhost because you believed they had a successful business model? And you’re intent was to follow this model, and be successful “like all the other Travelhost AP’s?”

Meaning, did Travelhost tell you they offer a class called TIPS (typical industry practices) or offer to supply you with a market-prescribed plan for success in your specific market? (Roadmap to success?)

Meaning, did you ever have a problem paying the publishing prices, and call Travelhost HQ to ask for any type of help? Whether it be a discount on pricing, payment terms, or some type of concession.

Thank you very much for participating in the survey.  I appreciate the time each and everyone spends reading the blog, and supporting what The Publisher’s Advocate is trying to accomplish-positive change at Travelhost Magazine.

Change so that people aren’t taken advantage of, and people are told what they’re getting into when they invest in a Travelhost franchise!

P.S.

One last question, if you will…

A Congratulations Is In Order, And Then Another Notice…

February 8, 2010

First off, I’d like to congratulate Dave Portener, Chief Marketing Officer of Travelhost, for promptly quitting his job last Friday after reading my blog post two days earlier

By abruptly quitting Travelhost as CMO last Friday, before he accomplished anything he set out to do, or telling us who his replacement is…Dave is (IMHO), without a doubt feeling guilty for watching Travelhost defraud people for the last year an a half while he was CMO.

It seems rather obvious to me that David Portener is denouncing Travelhost for what they’re doing!

Dave has taken the first step toward redemption, and limiting his jail time. He must have consulted an attorney, and I commend him for that…I’m sure it wasn’t an easy step for him.

There is another problem, however, other than the people who are paid to work the Travelhost “scheme.” These people apparently continue to “volunteer” to support the Travelhost fraud even after the “cat has been let out of the bag.”

Dear Travelhost Advisory Board members,

Don’t you think that the Travelhost Advisory Board at this point is just putting a “cloak of legitimacy” on Jim Buerger’s Travelhost swindle?

In my experience as a member of the Travelhost Advisory Board, it was a total waste of time listening to Jim Buerger’s rambling about the same B.S. every time, so as to not even allow any real time for meaningful discussion. This must be continuing, or even worse now that Travelhost has no executive staff (with any real publishing experience) to talk at the meetings!

Guess what Travelhost Advisory Board members?

This “waste of time” could make you personally liable for the Travelhost franchise violations, and plain old fraud that is perpetrated on so many people that come in contact with this network!

Don’t you think Buerger will point his finger at you when he goes down?

He’ll probably say that you helped him, and encouraged him, and that it was all your fault!

If you don’t think so, you better think again…we’re talking about a guy who has been scamming for decades.  Wait until you read a future posting on his political career as a councilman and as a candidate for mayor in Dallas!

The bottom line is you have been on an “Advisory Board,” advising Jim Buerger on how to do business at Travelhost.

This can very easily translate to personal liability for you, and at worst, Jim Buerger blaming it all on you.

Your only defense previous to this information being made public:

“We didn’t know what Buerger was doing, nor could we do anything about it.”

Well, you all know what he is doing NOW! You know about the fraud, franchise violations, and overcharges.

Dave Portener seems to have figured it all out, finally, and he left…perhaps the Advisory Board ought to do the same?

In my opinion, you should all leave the Advisory Board and WARN new investors being suckered into taking over these Travelhost markets that have repeatedly failed because of Travelhost over-charges.

You should join Dave Portener in publically showing his disgust for what Travelhost is doing to it’s AP’s and prospective Franchisees.

(Hint to Dave and The AB…Don’t sign one of Buerger’s patented “Gag Agreements,” so you continue to help him with this scam.)

Members of the Travelhost Advisory Board should either force Travelhost to obey the law, or you ought to publicly quit…because you too, can be held personally liable for what Travelhost is doing.

You’ve now been warned…TALK TO YOUR OWN ATTORNEYS! As usual, I only suggest that you look into this with your own lawyer. Don’t take my word for it.

Note:  Dave Portener took a critical first step toward exonerating himself by quitting last Friday.  Hopefully his attorney will advise him to go public with the Travelhost Fraud as well…because by not warning people, he’s just furthering the cause.  He’s not off the hook just because he quit, he should now tell the world what’s going on in Dallas!

(The AB members might be safe to stay on the Advisory Board if you would be willing to force Travelhost to change…NOW….not in 20 years…which I bet is as long as Travelhost is willing to wait for this whole storm to clear up.)

And, it’s also as long as this AP network is willing to fight Travelhost, until they finally do the right thing.

Godspeed…

THE PUBLISHERS ADVOCATE

P.S.

A note about the way I see things on The Travelhost Advisory Board:

Keep in mind that the Travelhost Advisory Board is constructed of what they perceive to be the most successful APs in the country. The Travelhost system was created so that the new people (who invest and go broke every year) SUBSIDIZE the people who are actually making money with the current business model.

Make no mistake, this is not capitalism at work here, it’s Travelhost fraud. I guess you could call it a PONZI SCHEME of sorts…and they’re not playing by the rules.

These AP’s who are making a couple of bucks with this model seemingly have every reason to support the status quo, where Travelhost makes it’s money by churning and over-charging new APs, rather than charging a royalty of 10% of ad revenues. (as Travelhost contractually has every right to do!)

Meaning, the AB members (and a few others) directly benefit from the way Travelhost does business, so they might not be so quick to want Travelhost to change. With a normal system in place, they would end up paying more in royalties!

Of course these people don’t have much incentive to rock the boat…the scam works for them! But, does this stature make these Advisory Board members more liable?

How about their repeated testimonials that help Travelhost “sell” new markets to unsuspecting investors?

(Especially when they know that 90% of new AP’s FAIL, and Travelhost doesn’t disclose that?)

What about the AB members that were privy to the “satisfaction and financial survey” that the AB did a year ago? That survey had incredibly dismal results, yet they go on misleading potential investors with testimonials???

Travelhost Advisory Board members must know that they are unrepresentative of the AP network as a whole? No???

How can the AB members, and other people in the Testimonials, attach their name and face (and credibility) to the Travelhost business model, when they know that 90% of all new AP’s will be recruited without any kind of disclosure…and eventually go broke from overcharges?  Why do you help Travelhost with the FRAUD?

Doesn’t anyone there have a conscience, or at least feel the obligation to report the “rape” that’s being committed?

This Posting Is Dedicated To David Portener, Chief Marketing Officer Of Travelhost

February 3, 2010

Dear Mr. CMO of Travelhost,

I’m no attorney, nor do I give legal advice, but I don’t believe it’s necessary to be a lawyer in order to recognize fraud when you see it. I suggest you and the other executives at Travelhost Magazine in Dallas pay close attention to this posting, because what I’m about to suggest could be vital to your careers and the way you spend the next few years of your lives.

Mr. Portener, your company violates franchise laws in 15 states, including the state of California where you operate Travelhost of Palm Springs. This violation is a felony in several of these states, and the law is crystal clear when it comes to identifying a business as a franchise. Travelhost meets these qualifications hands down, yet you do not follow the law requiring disclosure of failure rates for investors.

Why does Travelhost advertise itself as a franchise on the internet? And, why did Travelhost take down the internet ad on “Todaysbestfranchises.com” two days after I posted a link to it on my blog? Why do you continue to mislead people, Mr. CMO?  Dave Portener, YOU as the CMO are responsible for this posting (and others like it) marketing Travelhost as a franchise:

www-todaysbestfranchises-com_FranchiseDetail-asp_2t3f3bmv

If I were you, I would consult an attorney about the implications of your actions at Travelhost Magazine. Have the attorney read my blog posts about: fraud, deception, franchise laws, and non-disclosure. I also suggest your attorney reads Jeff Loudon’s blog from early 2009. I have a copy if you need one.

Dave, I wouldn’t consult your in-house attorney, because I don’t believe that he would give you the same advice that your own private attorney would. Mr. Price obviously believes that the way you operate Travelhost is completely lawful, or he would not be a part of the operation at all, as his bar affiliation relies on him following the law at all times.

Furthermore, you and Travelhost perpetrate fraud on investors, which is also punishable under state AND federal law. Dave, you and your “market expansion staff” will not be protected by the corporate veil that Jim Buerger and Mr. Price lead you to believe you’re protected by. You are liable personally for what you’re doing down there in Dallas, and you will likely be prosecuted for it this year. Though some current and past Travelhost employees can legitimately plead innocent, you Dave, can no longer plead ignorance to these laws.  You know what you’re doing is wrong.

Dave, I’m suprised that you didn’t accomplish what you originally set out to do…change Travelhost for the better. You convinced everyone in the network that Travelhost needed to change in order to survive, and that you were the guy that could make it happen. We all believed in you. In reality, all you did was become Jim Buerger’s partner-in-crime.  Now you’re just a liar and a thief.

Perhaps Jim Buerger would like to know how you REALLY feel about him, Dave?

Consider this your official notice that members the Travelhost network of associate publishers intend to hold you personally liable, and go find yourself personal counsil. Ask this person if they think you’re liable, you’ll be surprised at their answer. Or, maybe you won’t be…perhaps you realize that it’s only a matter of time before you’re prosecuted along with the rest of the brass at Travelhost HQ.

Good Luck,

THE PUBLISHER’S ADVOCATE

P.S.

For those who are interested in reporting Travelhost for violating your consumer rights, contact:

Richard Cleland
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3088

It won’t take long, I’m sure he’ll be familiar with your call.  In the message you can say Travelhost has been ripping off people for decades, hiding their nearly 100% failure rate. They don’t comply with franchise laws, but they advertise themselves as a franchise.  Proof is in the link above.

When this guy gets enough calls he’ll have to do something about it.  And, so will Travelhost!

More Of The Missing Travelhost Magazine Puzzle Pieces?

January 28, 2010

Little by little, we’ve been accumulating peices of the Travelhost puzzle, like anthropologists assembling bones from the beasts of the past.  Thankfully, it’s been helpful to some people already.  We’ve had several notes of thanks sent to The Publisher’s Advocate, and hope to have many more.  Keep up the good work everyone, and thank you all for your help!  I’d especially like to thank those on the inside, for doing what’s right…let your conscience be your guide!

On to todays post…

Whispers of “TravelGhosts” from the halls of the Travelhost Marketing Department tell me that $4,200 per quarterly issue is “earmarked” for marketing at Travelhost. I just learned this information, and find it to be quite interesting…if it’s true.

If you do the math, you get a big number! Let’s take a look:

Let’s assume Travelhost has 70 quarterly publishing markets…probably less, but I’ll be optimistic.

70 X $4,200 = $294,000 per quarter! $294,000 X 4 quarters = $1,176,000.00

OVER ONE MILLION DOLLARS “earmarked” for “marketing” yearly at Travelhost!

That’s not counting the millions of other dollars that cover production and printing (and executive overhead).

Does ANYONE see a million dollars per year in marketing hard at work?

I’m thinking these dollars are “earmarked” for marketing Travelhost markets to potential AP’s (market expansion), not for marketing Travelhost as “America’s Number 1 Travel Magazine.”  (Building the brand)  So in theory, the AP’s that are going broke paying the marketing budget, are actually paying for the marketing to their replacements for when they finally go bust.  Kind of like digging your own grave, if you get my drift.

Does Travelhost promote their brand in any way?

They’ve become quite good cheerleaders to their network of AP’s, hyping people up with “positive thinking” and planning to work the plan and plan the work.  This is all good stuff, especially when your brand has no legs of their own…preaching from the pulpit is about all you can do to keep the soldiers that are still alive…well, still fighting!

The only place I see any real money being spent is the 3 year old, unfinished website.

Which brings me to another question:

Has anyone wondered yet why Travelhost is building their website using a proprietary, wholly owned platform of their own?

The plan that is known inside the company, is that Travelhost will build an online presence that will take them directly to the consumer. Supposedly, in 5 years, they will have reservation systems, scrapbooks (MyTravelhost), meeting planners (AgendaBuilder) and many additional elements.

They fully intend to build the company to the point that the print component, the AP network, is but a small portion of the overall plan.

(The skills to do this haven’t been shown yet, but this is the plan, supposedly.)

AKA…they’ll virtually eliminate Travelhost’s reliance on the AP network. As the print product becomes less and less important, and the website starts generating revenue of it’s own…they won’t really need you all that much anymore…will they?

One of the core first steps is to populate the website with local business listings…what Dave Portener calls the “micro engines.” (It’s the new 1/12th page unit for the magazine that automatically populates the website, iphone, etc.)

Essentially, Travelhost is having the network develop the content for the website initiative. It’s an actual plan! A pretty good one from their point of view! Not so good when you’re the AP.  Why?

Well, to start with it, the AP network is paying for it.

But guess what… THE AP NETWORK DOESN’T OWN IT!

So, considering the fact that the AP network doesn’t actually own the website (we just have “use of it” while we’re AP’s), where is the rest of the money going?

Advertising? No.

Direct mail? No.

Email newsletters and blasts? Not yet.

Radio and TV spots? Nope.

Social media and online marketing? If it’s there, I don’t see it…unless I look really hard.

Why doesn’t anyone in NY know what Travelhost Magazine is, unless I tell them? Especially when $4,200 per quarter, or $16,800 per year goes toward “marketing?”

Since my total printing bill for 15000 magazines is $15, 750.00…over 25% of my dollars paid to Travelhost is earmarked for “marketing,” yet I don’t see a nickel of it going toward my market.

I see a few webinars on the schedule, and a “regional meeting” here or there…well, not “here” in the Northeast. But that’s a whole different post.  Why is the Northeast so barron of Travelhost markets?

My point is this. Where does all the money go, Travelhost?  Attention: There’s MORE:

Consider this breakdown…(these are real numbers)

If printing at a regular printer is about $5500,

and graphic design is another $2500,

and “marketing” is another $4200,

where does the OTHER $3550 go as well?

Does anyone know where this money is going?

I now have $7750 unaccounted for…every issue. 4 Times per year.

$31,000 per year, totally unaccounted for. (from your pocket, to Jim Buerger’s Ferrari?)

And I’M the one who’s labeled the crook by Travelhost? I’M the one being called an “extortionist” by Roger Thrailkill to prospective associate publishers out there! Dave Portener says I’M the one who “ran my business into the ground.” If you didn’t read that one, heres the link:

https://publishersadvocate.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/more-google-search-results-on-travelhost-magazine-scam/#comments

Can anyone break it down for me, please, because I don’t understand what’s going on here?

Why does this networks hard-earned advertising dollars disappear, leaving no evidence of money well spent anywhere?

Where does the money go, Mr. CMO?

More Google Search Results On Travelhost Magazine…”Scam?”

January 25, 2010

It’s kind of sad when a company has to purchase Google AdWords including “scam” after it’s name…isn’t it?

(OK: Update from Dave Portener (CMO of Travelhost), they didn’t “purchase” it, evidently it comes up automatically every time Travelhost is “googled.”  It’s still a PAID AD SEARCH.  However, point taken, Dave…you didn’t SPECIFICALLY BUY THE WORD “SCAM.” 

(I can admit when I’ve made a mistake!  Dave should do the same, since he lies to the people of this Associate Publisher network just about every time he sends out an email…it’s dispicable!)

(By the way Dave, you still haven’t proven that anything on my blog is FALSE.)  Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

When you Google “Travelhost Magazine Scam,” they have a paid text ad that pops up in the sponsored category!  Does that mean that Travelhost actually finally acknowledges that it is a SCAM?

Perhaps we DO have some progress here!

A couple of pages into the search, you’ll find yet another snipet from a court case where Travelhost had to defend itself against another Associate Publisher for FRAUD.

And, in their usual corporate bullying style, Travelhost motions for a change of venue apparently in an attempt to cause the AP to spend more money by having to go to TEXAS for court.  This is AFTER they probably caused said AP to go broke by overcharging them for the magazine…if history repeats itself, which it tends to do.

It seems that this time, their plans were foiled…and Travelhost was forced to defend themselves in Nevada.  This particular document only talks about the motion for change of venue, not the entire case…but it sounds as if it’s the same old story.

FRAUD and MISREPRESENTATION!

This took place in 1985.  Why do so many people claim that Travelhost has committed FRAUD against them?  Are all these people crazy?

Or, could there be some merit to the numerous claims of FRAUD against Travelhost?

This information was taken from: http://nv.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.%5CFDCT%5CDNV%5C1985%5C19850308_0000008.DNV.htm/qx

See below:

  GALLI v. TRAVELHOST  

  UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEVADA  

  Docket Number available at www.versuslaw.com
  Citation Number available at www.versuslaw.com
  March 8, 1985PETER E. GALLI and KAREN HUNTER, Plaintiffs,
v.
TRAVELHOST, INC., a Texas corporation, et al., Defendant
Paul D. Elcano, Reno, Nevada, for Plaintiff. , Phillip W. Bartlett, Reno, Nevada, for Defendant.

Reed, Jr.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: REED, JR.

Facts

Plaintiffs originally filed their complaint in this case in the Washoe County District Court, Nevada, on August 17, 1984. Defendant removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ? 1441. The complaint

Analysis

Federal procedure provides that “for the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought.” 28 U.S.C. ? 1404(a). Consistent with this, a decision to transfer is committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. See Commodity Futures Trading Com’n v. Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 279 (9th Cir. 1979).

The relevant factors for consideration whether to transfer a case are: the convenience of the parties and witnesses, the relative ease of access to sources of proof, the availability of process to compel the presence of unwilling witnesses, the practical problems indicating that the case can be tried more expeditiously and inexpensively elsewhere, and the interests of justice. See Gulf Oil Corporation v. Gilbert, 330 U.S. 501, 508-509, 91 L. Ed. 1055, 67 S. Ct. 839 (1947).

The burden is on defendant in this case to establish that there should be a change of venue. It is not enough, without more, to merely shift the inconvenience from one party to another. See Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 645-646, 11 L. Ed. 2d 945, 84 S. Ct. 805 (1964).

If the plaintiffs were forced to travel to Texas with the several witnesses that are listed in Peter Galli’s affidavit accompanying the opposition to the motion of transfer, plaintiffs would be seriously inconvenienced. Coupled with the additional cost of litigation outside their home state, it may force plaintiffs to decide that the cost of bringing the lawsuit no longer supports its feasibility. It cannot be said that Texas is the more convenient forum for plaintiffs.

Further, in evaluating a ? 1404(a) motion, the citizen plaintiff’s choice of a proper forum is entitled to “paramount consideration,” and the moving party must show that a balancing of interests weighs heavily in favor of transfer. See Piper Aircraft Co. v. Reyno, 454 U.S. 235, 255, 70 L. Ed. 2d 419, 102 S. Ct. 252 (1981). Defendant in this case has not met its burden. First, defendant actively seeks out and does business nationally. The contract at issue in this case was negotiated, signed, and executed in Reno, Nevada. Also, defendant fails to positively identify any witnesses which would potentially be beyond the jurisdiction of this Court. The simple assertion that the necessary witnesses probably reside in a certain forum does not justify granting a ? 1404(a) motion. This Court finds that the defendant has not met the burden of establishing that the transferee forum is more appropriate for this action.

Accordingly, the motion to transfer based upon 28 U.S.C. ? 1404(a) is denied.

In this case analysis does not stop, however, with a finding that transfer is inappropriate under ? 1404(a). As defendant asserts, there is a forum selection clause at issue in this case.

A copy of the contract is attached to defendant’s motion as Exhibit A. The agreement is a three-page document entitled “APPLICATION FOR DISTRIBUTORSHIP AND AGREEMENT.” There are blanks for the date, names of the parties,

 

“18. This Agreement is to be governed by and construed according to the laws of the State of Texas and venue for all purposes shall be in the State of Texas.”

Analysis of the validity of the forum-selection clause must begin with The Bremen v. Zapata Off-Shore Co., 407 U.S. 1, 32 L. Ed. 2d 513, 92 S. Ct. 1907 (1972). That case concerned a contract between Zapata, an American corporation based in Texas, and Unterweser, a German corporation, for Unterweser to tow a Zapata oil rig from Louisiana to a point in the Adriatic Sea off Ravenna, Italy. The contract provided that “any dispute arising must be treated before the London Court of Justice”. Id. at 2. The rig was damaged while in the Gulf of Mexico, and Zapata instituted suit in a district court in Florida. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion by Unterweser to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed. Repudiating earlier decisions adverse to forum-selection clauses, the Court held that there were compelling factors in that case why such a clause, “unaffected by fraud, undue influence, or overweening bargaining power . . . should be given full effect.” Id. at 12-13. Among these factors was the extraordinary nature of the transaction in that case, involving as it did the towing of a drilling barge from the Louisiana coast to the Adriatic Sea. The forum-selection clause also had the effect of providing a neutral, specified forum for the adjudication of disputes, thereby eliminating any uncertainties. The Court further stated:

“There is strong evidence that the forum clause was a vital part of the agreement, and it would be unrealistic to think that the parties did not conduct their negotiations including fixing the monetary terms, with the consequences of the forum clause figuring prominently in their calculations.”

None of the factors mentioned by the Supreme Court are present in this case. This transaction is not extraordinary, nor is there any intimation that the parties need to ensure a neutral forum for the adjudication of the disputes between them. This Court should constitute a neutral forum, no different from the district court in Texas.

There is no indication on the face of the contract that the forum selection clause was freely bargained for between the parties. Nor was the Court presented with any evidence that the parties engaged in any specific bargaining over the clause.

Further, defendant did not provide competent evidence to support the argument that the clause was a “most-significant” part of the contract. At the time the contract in issue was negotiated and signed, the president of Travelhost was Robert E. Thomas. However, the affidavit submitted in support of the argument is by the current president of Travelhost, James E. Buerger. Mr. Buerger states in paragraph 4, page 2, that the “venue selection” paragraph has always been considered to be a “most-significant part of [Travelhost’s] entire Distributorship Agreement arrangement.” The Court has difficulty according much weight to this self-serving statement.

A forum selection clause does not oust this Court’s jurisdiction. There will always be open to either party the opportunity to present whatever evidence will move a court in the particular circumstances not to decline to exercise its undoubted jurisdiction. See LFC Lessors, Inc., v. Pacific Sewer Maintenance Corp., 739 F.2d 4, 6 (1st Cir. 1984) (quoting Central Contracting Co. v. Maryland Casualty Co., 367 F.2d 341, 345 (3d Cir. 1966)). This Court’s subject matter jurisdiction is properly based on diversity of citizenship. Venue is proper in the district of Nevada under 28 U.S.C. ? 1391(a).

IT IS, THEREFORE, HEREBY ORDERED that the motion for change of venue is DENIED.

19850308 <!–plsfield:

© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.

Mr. Buerger was not a party to the contract, nor was he president of Travelhost at the time of the contract. It is the finding of this Court that the forum-selection clause is in the contract for the convenience of the defendant, and for no other reason.their addresses, number of copies per week of the publication, designated area for distribution, amount the distributor is paying defendant, and three additional paragraphs added on to the form contract. All of the above mentioned was initialled by the three signatories to the contract, Peter Galli, Karen Hunter, and Robert E. Thomas. The remaining paragraphs are not initialled. The venue selection paragraph is found at paragraph 18 of the 23 paragraph document. That paragraph of the contract reads:alleges in the first cause of action intentional misrepresentation and in the second cause of action negligent misrepresentation.

Please Be Advised…Results May Not Be Typical!

January 19, 2010
Here’s just another instance where Travelhost intends to mislead people, and attempt to lure unsuspecting investors, by making people believe that the folks in the testimonials represent the majority.

Every good marketer knows that testimonials are an excellent way to break down potential buyer’s barriers, in order to help sell your product or service.  Testimonials sell!
One caveat to this…the testimonials are supposed to show TYPICAL results, NOT the (1 out of 100) results!

This particular point is important enough for the FTC to require businesses using testimonials, to LABEL them if they represent results that ARE NOT TYPICAL, so that customers are aware of this!
Again, why doesn’t Travelhost follow the law? Probably because it doesn’t benefit them to do so…lets take a look:
I bolded the relevant part of this communication, and I’m providing a link to the Travelhost website where the violations occur.
Why is it important for Travelhost to avoid the truth?
Links to TH site:
http://www.travelhost.com/jsp/lovetestimonials.jsp
http://www.travelhost.com/jsp/lovemarketplace.jsp
http://www.travelhost.com/jsp/lovemarketplace2.jsp
(PLEASE BE ADVISED, RESULTS MAY VARY?)
An FTC Press Release:

For Release: 10/05/2009

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements

The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice detailing the changes was 4-0. The notice will be published in the Federal Register shortly, and is available now on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. Copies also are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Betsy Lordan
Office of Public Affairs

202-326-3707
STAFF CONTACT:
Richard Cleland
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3088

(FTC File No. P034520)
(endorsement testimonial guide.wpd)

All Travelhost would have to do, is mention that the people in these testimonials are some of the ONLY people that are truly happy being a Travelhost Associate Publisher.  Some of the people pictured in those testimonials my not be as happy as Travelhost thinks they are!  There might even be a couple that are having financial difficulty as we speak.

The point is, why do they try so hard to mislead people?

I suppose the FTC will never enforce the rules upon Travelhost, however, I can tell you one thing: Everything written in my blog seems “typical” of the Travelhost AP.

Not so much with Travelhost’s site.