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Report: #282416

Complaint Review: Travelhost Magazine - Dallas Texas

  • Submitted: Thu, November 01, 2007
  • Updated: Wed, November 02, 2011
  • Reported By: Heart of the USA Colorado
  • Travelhost Magazine
    Dallas, Texas

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Travelhost magazine makes a promise of a business opportunity with plenty of resources and services to get you into the magazine publishing business.

In fact, they are only interested in printing magazines. They provide no assistance in marketing or prospecting. Their sales training is outdated. Their market research is limited. They can't even provide Redbook listings. Their website is antiquated.

They are simply in business to print magazines at a higher rate than a normal commercial printer.
You get very limited support with regards to sales, promotion or running a business. You are left on your own to flounder your way through. They make sure they get their money up front so they are covered when you don't succeed. Research all the turn over of distributors.

So, if you want to publish a magazine, you are better off finding your own designer and commerical printer and doing it from the ground up.

Out of the business
Heart of the USA, Colorado

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/01/2007 03:45 PM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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Updates & Rebuttals


#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

don't be fooled... It's a scam

AUTHOR: no friend of TH - (United States of America)

The previous posts that describe Travelhost in Dallas as sleezy, is exactly how I'd describe Travelhost.  My experience was that it's definitely a scam.  Travelhost has spent years fine tuning their sales pitch that is full of false and misleading information to recruit new "associate publishers".  Please ask Travelhost lots of questions about turn over rate, past associate publishers, their financials, details of how they help you market and what you get for paying an exorbinate printing fee.  Raise your eyebrow and follow your instincts when they dance around the questions.  In hind sight, there were so many red flags that I choose to ignore.  If I only I knew then, what I know now.... Travelhost will try to make you believe that the questions you're asking aren't valid and they'll tell you they don't keep that type of information.  

One might believe that the advantage of joining a "distributorship" is buying power.  This was my belief.  I should have done better due diligence and contacted printers to get 3 quotes on printing costs of a similiar publication size and paper.  I urge you to do this before you spend your money, time, and effort traveling to Dallas to meet with them for the "Day of Discovery".  What I learned after being a Travelhost Associate Publisher, is that I could pay a professional graphic artist, freelance writers, and print the magazine for 40% less.  This was actually on better quality paper and would've been a much better looking and better layed out publication. 

Travelhost's template format and cover designs look straight out of the 70's.  If you have any experience selling advertising and working with marketing representatives and agencies you'll find that people will dismiss Travelhost magazine purely on it's outdated and tacky design.  Hotels and consumers will quickly dismiss it as well.

Travelhost will also try to make you believe that they'll give you support in finding sources of stories, help with writing and editing, marketing information, and laying out the magazine... all the support you'll need to publish a magazine and that you'd be crazy to try to do this on your own.  The truth is, that you'll be doing it all on your own and when you realize that you can do it better and for less money to control your costs, it will be too late.  Part of the deal is that you sign a 2 year non-compete clause.  The Travelhost Associate Publisher contract is something else they've spent 40 years fine tuning.  Just google the history and talk to past Associate Publishers.  You'll find that the contract gets tweeked to protect Travelhost everytime they have a legal run-in with one of their previous Associate Publishers. 

Look into the definition of "Distributorship" and "Franchise", and look up what constitutes a franchise in your home state.  The arrangement you're considering with Travelhost likely is a franchise by definition and your state's laws.  In that case, you should be entitled to a whole wealth of financial and success information that will help you to make an informed business decision.    

This is seriously a rip-off. You will loose money!  HUNDREDS of previous Associate Publishers can't be wrong.  There are a half dozen Travelhost Associate Publishers that have had success over the course of 40 years.  If you really dive in you'll find that those handful of Associate Publishers receive special treatment from the office in Dallas.  These Associate Publishers are on the advisory board and always have been.  There isn't any normal term and turnover of advisory board members.  The design of their magazine doesn't follow the strict and rigid design template imposed on all the other Travelhost Associate Publishers.  Look at the Ft. Lauderdale publication, it has a heavy paper cover and custom cover designs.  The cover is actually printed at another print house and sent to Travelhost for binding.  Speaking of binding, the Ft. Lauderdale publication is perfect bound vs. saddlestitched which is required for the rest of the Associate Publisher publications.

Another secret Travelhost won't share is that the success of those few markets is largely attributed to unique relationships that those Associate Publishers have with American Express or the Mayor or the Covention and Tourism office in their city.  These unique relationship are a TOTAL exception!  The Covention and Visitors office in my city viewed my Travelhost publication as competition and didn't endorse my publication.  American Express won't even take your call unless you're related to someone that works for American Express.  Add this to your due diligence list and contact your Convention and tourism office, and reach out to American Express to learn about the possiblity of having an American Express sponsored section.

Please do your homework and don't make the same costly mistake the hundreds of us that have gone before you.  You can publish a similiar but better magazine on your own.  it's a lot of work but it will be the same amount of work if you're a Travelhost publication too.  Travelhost in Dallas actually works against you and makes it more difficult, vs. being your partner.

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#2 Consumer Comment

Original post is absolutely correct!

AUTHOR: Travelhosed - (United States of America)

Everything stated in the original post is correct and 100% accurate. Roger Thrailkill, who brandishes the impressive title of "Director of Expansion" in his post, was nothing more than a commissioned sales person who made a living by selling Travelhost franchises and robbing people of their hard earned money, often times their life savings. He was personally and directly involved in theft and deceit and was very often at the center of legal disputes between Travelhost and it's franchisees due to his deceitful practices and outright lies. I was one of them. I describe him and his role at Travelhost in past tense because he's since been laid off, along with well over 75% of the entire company over the course of the past year or so.

This is a sinking ship, people. It's only a matter of time before they face total and complete economic collapse. Even Jim Buerger's own daughter, who was set to take over the company some day, has completely abandoned her role at Travelhost and has very much seperated herself from them.

And Roger... of course the individual who posted this original post would not use his/her real location! Are you an idiot?? Travelhost cannot sell franchises anymore, they cannot maintain the franchises they do still have left, and they can't put out a decent magazine at a fair cost to save their lives, but they sure do know how to go after their former (and current) franchisees in court ( So obviously anonymity is sometimes necessary to keep Travelhost's very busy, IN-HOUSE, ON STAFF corporate attorney at bay!

Stay away from Travelhost. If you are considering them... don't get caught up in their slick, choreographed routine. Ask for hard facts! Ask them what their turnover rate is, both in the local market you're considering and nationally. Ask them how many people have been in and failed in the market you're considering in only the last five years. Ask them about the last ten years. Ask them exactly how many markets they're in right now, then ask them how many a year ago. Two years ago. Three years ago. Ask them to share their financials with you. Ask them how profitable (or unprofitable) their remaining franchises are.

These are all very sound and reasonable questions to ask a potential franchisor... right??? WRONG! Not according to Travelhost. They will not provide you with ANY of this information. Instead, they dance around and distract you with glorified stories of success and hopefully you won't question them anymore and you'll simply hand them a check. But don't do it unless they provide you with that information. I guarantee you that if they do provide you with the requested information you'll turn and run and never look back!

And don't forget to call people and ask them about their experiences with Travelhost. But not the two hand-picked references Travelhost has bribed to say good things and then handed over to you to call. No... call the ones they didn't give you. Any of them. Ask them what it's like to be a Travelhost franchisee. Ask them how much money they're making (or, more accurately, are losing and have lost). And call former franchisees as well. There's a reason why there are so many of them out there. While they only have a handful of franchisees left, there are literally hundreds... HUNDREDS... of former franchisees out there. Why have soooo many left??? Ask them!

Or better yet... do yourself a favor and just move on. There are real opportunities out there, and there are scams. THIS IS A SCAM!!!
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#3 Consumer Comment

Original post was the truth; employees are full of it!

AUTHOR: Foreclosed and Bankrupt in Minnesot - (United States of America)

I just read with disgust the rebuttals from two former Travelhost employees and from current employee Roger Thrailkill. Not sure what the "former employee" has to gain by saying what she said, but Roger Thrailkill is most certainly on commission and gets paid based on selling markets to unsuspecting investors like me. He is the fox guarding the hen house.

David Portner no longer works for Travelhost, and I would bet he was given some money to keep quiet on everything he knows about their practices, along with their revolving door of senior marketing executives.

Also search "Travelhost Scam," and you will find a blog by a former publisher with more proof of their scam. They have gone to great lengths to prevent potential suckers (investors) from finding that blog, including buying Google ads and buying up every related domain name.

To say "we knew what risk we were taking" is just not true. Throughout their carefully orchestrated recruitment process, one is led to believe this business is a license to print money and to NOT do this would be foolish.

But don't just take my word for it. Ask them what their turnover rate is. You will be shown the door. Like "Colorado," I am not including my true location, because they have been very vindictive as they scramble to save what's left of Jim Buerger's little kingdom.

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#4 UPDATE Employee

Investigation Reveals Posting was Fradulent, Likely Placed by a Competitor Attempting to Damage

AUTHOR: R. Thrailkill - (United States of America)

March 1, 2010

When the letter from "Heart of the USA - Colorado" was first published in 2007, I immediately suspected it was a fake - most likely posted by a competitor of some sort, possibly another magazine publisher in one of the hundreds of cities we serve.

As the person responsible for TRAVELHOST's national expansion for over 20 years, I knew that there had been on one "out of business" in Colorado for many, many years. In fact, some of the markets there were under a Master Distributorship and had not even been developed at the time.  And all other statewide editions were continuing in their successful operation.

After a thorough search of our historic files, I was convinced that the anonymous posting did not originate from a previous TRAVELHOST Associate Publisher and was, in fact, a fabrication.

These are exciting times at TRAVELHOST. Our traditional print publications are now paired with a comprehensive new travel planning and information site on the web. We just launched our new iPhone application. And we continue to aggressively grow our network of entrepreneurial Associate Publishers in selected new markets across the nation.

If you have an interest in a great community-oriented business, or any questions about what you have read here, I invite you to call me directly. Unlike the anonymous poster, you will find my name and phone number given below.

J. Roger Thrailkill
Director of Expansion
(800) 527-1782  Ext. 131
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#5 UPDATE EX-employee responds

The Truth about Travelhost

AUTHOR: Former Employee - (United States of America)

Travelhost Magazine has been around for 40 years, and that alone should say volumes about the company. It has provided opportunity for countless people in both the Associate Publisher capacity as well as for numerous employees who have come and gone. I am one.

While it is true that the main reason Travelhost is in business is to print magazines, they do strive to prepare potential Associate Publishers for what is lies ahead. True, much of the information is vague, the sales training is indeed outdated, and the stories of great success of a few of the publishers can appear misleading. Like with any company selling an expensive product, facts are often embelished and half-truths soon become myth. The sales and production teams here are an odd mix of oversized egos and blinded loyalty.

I worked for Travelhost in production, editorial and training for over a decade. I knew every associte publisher, many personally over the years, and most were very satisfied with their investment. Yes, most new APs failed, and failed within months or the first couple of years, soon replaced with other investors. I often looked at the innocent faces of potential APs that arrived at the plant for the tour and the talk and wanted to say "Run! Take you money and run!" But that would go for any investment in any company. These people were mostly college educated (one I remember from Harvard), had business backgrounds and savvy, and were hardly naive. They walk into this opportunity knowing the risks, as this lady from Colorado should have known, and they take the risks and take the successes -- or the hits.

I was laid off from Travelhost due to company politics and I could be bitter but I have chosen not to be. I have moved on to much better opportunities and do not regret a thing. If there was one thing I learned at this company it was not necessarily how to run a company, but how NOT to run a company. That in itself is a very valuable lesson.

Would I recommend someone becoming a Travelhost Associate Publisher? Probably not. The initial $40,000 investment (due up front) is only the beginning of the money drain to start up this business. This is a distributorship that needs to be carefully examined and planned for. There are definitely rewards if it works, but quick failure if you're not prepared.

Former Employee

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#6 UPDATE Employee

The other side

AUTHOR: David - (U.S.A.)

Before joining TRAVELHOST Inc. in the fall of 2008, I was the Associate Publisher in Palm Springs CA., for more than six years. In fact, I still own the territory while my wife and others manage day-to-day operations. It has been one of the most rewarding career decisions of my life.

Since 1967, TRAVELHOST is proud to have served more than 3 billion travelers within the U.S. through a network of professional, self employed and independent distributors of our travel publications, maps and other products. The TRAVELHOST opportunity is for self-motivated entrepreneurs desiring autonomy and independence in the method of operating their local businesses. There is no prescribed or suggested marketing plan or system as is the case with a franchise or structured business opportunity, and TRAVELHOST makes no promises or representations regarding individual results. .

David B. Portener
Chief Marketing Officer
National Headquarters
10701 N. Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, TX 75220
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