by Luke Jones
Posted 10/7/2013 12:00 am
The northwest Arkansas edition of TravelHost Inc.’s franchised promotional magazine will resume publication this month.
Earlier this year, Springdale resident and veteran salesman Tony LaMendola was searching for a new career path when he was contacted by TravelHost’s team in Dallas. They wanted him to consider taking over the dormant magazine.
“We were at a crossroads,” LaMendola said. “I said, ‘What about looking into a franchise and working for ourselves?’ I was looking around, and not a day or two later I got a call from a gentleman who picked up my resume somewhere along the line and asked if I had any interest in buying the northwest Arkansas version of TravelHost.”
TravelHost consists mostly of advertising for local hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment venues.
Under its previous publisher, the magazine ran in northwest Arkansas between 2006 and 2008 before ceasing publication.
LaMendola and his wife, Karen, drove down to Dallas to hear the company’s pitch. He was skeptical at first, but said the company’s business plan and support for its franchise owners won him over. The venture was finalized by the end of June, he said.
Operations of the magazine are being jointly handled by LaMendola and his wife.
On Oct. 27, 7,500 copies of the northwest Arkansas TravelHost will be available at 63 locations in five cities, including Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fayetteville and Siloam Springs. LaMendola said he has so far lined up 38 advertisers.
“Each issue will be a different issue,” LaMendola said. “We sell 12-month, four-issue commitments, and they can change their ads with each issue.”
Editorial content in TravelHost is provided by the advertisers. LaMendola said the first issue will have articles featuring the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, some of the area’s health care providers and others.
The magazine will also include a map showing each participating advertiser.
TravelHost will continue to be issued on a quarterly basis, and LaMendola said his son, Mitch, is helping manage a social media platform for the magazine.
LaMendola said he plans to grow his advertiser base and hopes to expand into Eureka Springs soon.
He also said he’s not worried that the previous TravelHost franchise in his area ceased after two years: Previous advertisers told LaMendola that “prices were too high,” and he’s operating a different model, both financially and technologically.
“We provide to our advertiser the ad both physically and digitally, and they get a spotlight both physically and digitally,” he said. “We have an iPhone app and we offer a webpage for them and we also offer social media. So it’s a full package. We’re not TravelHost magazine so much as TravelHost media, if you will.”
TravelHost Inc. started in 1967 and was originally distributed exclusively in hotels. In its first incarnation, the magazine included both television listings and local travel information.