I don’t deny that I stepped up, and I have been accused of “taking over” that first bus. I won’t argue that from some points of view that’s what it looked like. Some might say I stepped up to fill a need, others might say I overstepped. I felt like someone needed to call out our destinations, and so I stepped into the role of navigator - which I’ve now continued to do for over 300 Legendary raids from August to now the end of October.
That fist San Antonio bus from RaidTX left a lot to be desired, and in the end a small group of us sat there saying “You know they made a lot of money off us, and we did all the work.” They didn’t even explain to the driver what to expect, we were literally just thrown on a bus and wished the best of luck. No one from RaidTX (out of Austin) had come down to kickstart that initial raid bus and set the standard for the rest of us.
We had to do it ourselves - so we decided to do it ourselves.
Sunday morning, everyone who had ever bought a ticket from RaidTX received an e-mail telling them that I was a “bully”, an “imposter” and that I was on a crusade to take them down. Minus the crusade part, I’m sure I could look like a bully or an imposter from their point of view.
I’m writing today to give my thoughts on why RaidTX is really leaving San Antonio, to take a moment to laugh with you all that Philip Lloyd thinks he could sue me for playing Pokemon GO on a Party Bus, and to talk about the good that we have done while riding around on mean old Trainer Tol’s Charity Raid Bus.
Why Trainer Tol’s Charity Raid Bus Sells Out
I joked with the afternoon bus yesterday that when I had first been confronted as a “copycat” that I had a lot of people rapid firing hardcore criticisms at me at light speed. I jokingly called this “mentorship via trolling” and because they were coming at me from every direction it gave me the rare opportunity to evaluate this idea from tons of angles. No joke it was very valuable feedback.
The feedback - which they meant as attacks on me - truly helped me refine the idea under intense scrutiny. That’s incredibly valuable for a startup - I realize that isn’t what those who were bashing me intended, but criticism can be incredibly fruitful - and it was.
So what made our bus different?
Firstly - We feed people. On a RaidTX bus, it is BYOB, and there is not a meal provided while you are on the road. Many bring food, some certainly do share, but every week from our very first raid we have reserved several large pizzas from Pizza Classics and each of our two bus tours that day get a fresh batch of pizzas. (We chose Pizza Classics because they are locally and family owned, so the money stays here in San Antonio - it’s also really good pizza!)
We also provide soda and bottled water for free to all passengers, and have a nice cooler setup where we have two coolers with a mix of drinks - we swap them out between buses. We have a monster Yeti filled with ice under the bus and that keeps everything freshly chilled. (We even pre-chill the drinks that morning.)
Secondly - We are 100% non-profit. I’m not against making money, I’m an entrepreneur myself and I’ve done really well here in San Antonio over these last nine years. That said, what I saw was a guy out of Austin making a profit by using our communities on Facebook to build up his events. As an admin of one of the communities they were using to advertise, this rubbed me the wrong way - and it rubbed a lot of other admins the wrong way too.
So being a director of a non-profit myself, and my wife being on the board of another, we made the decision to run our bus 100% non-profit and to cycle between causes that were important to those in our community. As of this past weekend, we have now raised over $7,000 for organizations like Mystery Dog Rescue, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and we even did a special weekend for a local family impacted really badly by Hurricane Harvey.
Third - We treat everyone on the bus like family. We have long-running jokes on our bus, like the big buff Army Ranger that got the Shiny Magikarp, or that one guy who declared his balls wouldn’t curve (his doctors have since cleared him) or even simple things like “In Don We Trust”.
We may not be downing Jell-O shots, but my face often hurts when I get home from laughing so much while we’re out on the road. We put a lot of effort into telling jokes, keeping energy high and making sure everyone is having the best time that we can.
Lastly - Raffle Prizes. I know it sounds simple, but Pokemon swag goes a long way - and I don’t mean yet another kuzi that you’re going to throw in a drawer and never use again. We’ve raffled off some pretty awesome stuff - from talking Pikachu plushes to battery packs, to even imported Japanese Pokemon figures.
We’re even at the point where we’ve had to start buying directly from the Pokemon Center in bulk because the prices are so much better than buying out the entire Pokemon wall at the local Think Geek store (sorry Think Geek but Pokemon Center is cheaper!).
So we feed our passengers a meal, they get free bottled water and soda, they get a couple of raffle tickets towards some great prizes, and 100% of the proceeds after expenses go to a great cause. All for the same $20 per bus tour, same as their "early bird" price, much greater value.
Why RaidTX Raid Busses Weren’t Selling
The first answer is incredibly simple - they ran an ugly negative campaign.
Mr. Lloyd says that Travis Seago doesn’t actually speak for RaidTX but early on he was the voice of RaidTX in San Antonio and the primary promoter. Travis ran a misguided attack campaign against me, one post even going so far as to accuse me of fraud - they even reached out to a non-profit that we raised money for and accused us of said fraud directly - which they confirmed was not true.
We didn’t respond, we didn’t engage. We worked with the local community leaders who all agreed that making personal attacks wasn’t acceptable and rather than starting a war, we focused on making our bus as much fun as we could - and when you make a fuss about someone else you have to also point your finger at them - and many people checked us out because of those negative posts and liked what they saw.
They certainly gave us a ton of free publicity.
Secondly - RaidTX kept having to cancel San Antonio events due to poor ticket sales, sometimes even at the last minute giving very little time for those who bought a ticket to see the notice of the cancellation. Several of our most loyal repeat riders came to us because there was an issue with their RaidTX bus not riding at the announced times.
We did our best to accommodate these folks, even when we were at or near capacity, and built a lot of trust, and a lot of very positive word of mouth when folks knew that the leadership for Trainer Tol’s Charity Raid Bus was actually on the bus - you could actually talk to us - and not have to try to e-mail someone out of Austin that you likely would never meet.
Third - They’ve raised their prices. $20 for a four-hour bus tour is absolutely a "want" and not a "need", by no means is riding around on a raid bus a necessity. RaidTX is now trying a slightly longer bus that you can ride for $20 if you buy early - but is priced at $30 if you buy “late”.
I get it, Mr. Lloyd wants to bring the money in early so he isn’t risking money on a bus date that won’t at least break even. Several times he ran a bus in San Antonio at a loss, including this past weekend - I always believed because if he canceled - that would be admitting defeat and he didn’t want to appear weak.
$30 though puts their raid bus out of the price range of many, especially when you account for the lack of a meal or a full beverage selection while on the bus. Their loudest supporters in San Antonio are those who themselves do not pay for tickets to ride their bus - they were allowed to ride for free in exchange for promotional help and being team leaders.
One of their Team Leaders, the one accusing me of being a bully (Jamie), had also asked me for the same deal that he eventually got from RaidTX. He wanted to ride for free in exchange for being a Team Leader, but I wasn’t able to accommodate him so he joined them.
Great examples on our bus include Luis and Aaron, who most of the time buy their tickets onto the raid bus before I can even comp them, or one of our regular Valor Team Leaders Tony who has usually bought his ticket before I have a chance to invite him out to help. Jaclyn is also a huge supporter of ours sharing our latest Raid Bus posts with lightning speed. The generosity of these same folks when it comes to supporting that week’s charity is huge.
Price still plays a huge role, which is why we built our own ticketing platform rather than stay on Eventbrite. Eventbrite was charging our passengers an extra $1.49 fee to use their event platform, and so by building our own platform from scratch we could not only sell tickets but also show our passengers how many from their team would also be riding - I think people have really appreciated that and it helped us really plan out our multiple raid lobbies.
Of Mice And Raid Buses
So here we are - the “real” raid bus in San Antonio rode one last time yesterday, last I’d checked they’d sold 12 tickets vs. our SOLD OUT 100 passengers. While Philip Lloyd might claim that they are terminating services in San Antonio due to my being a mean old bully…
...just do the math.
They sold twelve tickets - and they had two weeks to do it - but because they managed things poorly, they marketed it poorly, they pissed off the local Facebook admins, and they ran an overall negative campaign against a guy who does marketing for a living - they lost.
They’re not going to run in San Antonio anymore because they were not making enough money.
If given the choice, more people wanted the positive bus, the bus that feeds you, the bus that gives out free drinks and raffle tickets - the bus that tried our damnedest to make sure everyone riding had an amazing time and caught a ton of Legendaries (and a couple Magikarp).
Do they truly think so much of me that I was able to individually bully all their passengers into no longer buying tickets with them? Come on, really?
No. Some may view me as a bully, and honestly from their point of view they may truly believe that is the kind of person that I am. Many more don’t though, and their continued patronage on the Trainer Tol Charity Raid Bus means the world to me, and I will continue to do my absolute best to provide the most fun raiding experience possible - on and off the bus.
One of the first questions they ask on shows like Shark Tank is “what is to stop someone from coming along and doing the same thing better?” and if you don’t have a good secret weapon for why someone couldn’t do a better job than you - then the sharks don’t invest.
I was a customer of RaidTX - I wasn’t impressed and felt I could do a better job.
So I did.
In the name of full transparency, here is the e-mail that Philip Lloyd sent out to everyone in San Antonio who had ridden with them - though he started out by saying he wasn't going into detail, he clearly had a lot he needed to get off his chest.
-------- Original message --------
From: Philip Loyd firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 10/22/17 6:14 AM (GMT-06:00)
Subject: [RaidTX] THE FINAL LEGENDARY RIDE IS TODAY. You in?
We're going away, but not without one last ride!
It’s sad to say, but we’re shutting down the San Antonio raid bus events after tomorrow, but we invite you to join us one last time from 11am - 4pm for the Entei Legendary Ride.
If you don’t already have a ticket, there is still plenty of seats to for you to hop on board and help us go out with a bang. It’s been really awesome raiding with you all and appreciate the heck out of you for supporting our Pokemon Go events and make all of this possible.
ENTEI RAID BUS TICKETS, SUN 10.22, 11AM-4PM:
I don’t want to go into too much detail about who or what caused the decision to stop event planning in SA, because that would be missing the point and just cause further conflict.
To be frank, it's no secret that the leader of certain San Antonio PoGo group has been running eerily similar events to mine with identical times, prices, location, bus company, ticketing site, and who knows what else I stopped keeping track. There's a good chance he's even emailed you directly using a stolen attendees list from our original Zapdos Raid Bus back in August (the same week he attended and proceeded to put up his own event 2 days later). I honestly cannot speak for the true motives of this imposter, or why he feels the need to continue his crusade against whatever he thinks we've been doing by throwing events. I guess he must've had a good time if he felt so compelled to replicate my "evil" event and pass it off as his own. Even my donating a portion of proceeds to non-profits seemed to be a winner #gofigure.
Through all of this, we did not so much as acknowledge his presence (until now I guess). If I cared to pursue legal action I probably could, but that would be absurd. Even after his constant public remarks attempting to defame my group and what I've been doing, we continued to refuse to engage him in his attempts to stir controversy. None of what he did mattered to us. Why? Because we're not doing this for ourselves. These events are built specifically FOR the community BY the community. We're only here because you asked us to be here. Whether an event happens or not is up to you decide. It's that simple.
So yeah, nothing a copycat event planner does is really going to change that. We're here to have fun, so why would we want to pretend we have a rival or whatever? Our only enemy is John Hankey because he keeps crushing our hopes of getting EX Passes and shadow-banning our scanners we use to raid legendaries more efficiently.
...But as of this week, I saw a new side of this person that is too unsettling to ignore.
There is nothing I take more seriously than the well-being of those close to me and when one of my volunteers shares information that shows a group being led and encouraged by their leader to publicly bully others online, I have a big problem with that. And for what purpose? What's worth pushing such hateful behavior unprovoked? Selling more tickets to an event? It's just sad and pathetic... I refuse to continue putting y'all in a situation to be targeted by a troll. I care about you guys too much to put you through that kind of unnecessary abuse.
With this new information coming to light, I've made the decision to put an end to this source of hateful behavior before it gets any worse. My one goal since the beginning has been to enable communities to throw fun events and make PoGo more enjoyable for everyone. If my presence being here means putting you guys through undue grief then the only responsible thing I can do is remove RaidTX SA from the equation.
So… tearful goodbyes aside, I want to quickly recap on all the good times we've had and throw out some special thanks to everyone who came together in SA to make these events possible.
To all your fearless Team Leaders in San Antonio who selflessly led their teams into battle and kept the good times rolling week after week, it’s been incredible working with y’all through all of this. Thank you for your service!! – Tonya, Jamie, Amber, Javen, Jennifer, Billy, Travis, Seth, Carrie, Eric, Crystal, Amanda, and Chris.
Since starting out a little over 2 months ago, we’ve been able to run over 15 raid buses going after Articuno, Moltres, Zapdos, Lugia, Raikou, Entei and even hit up Victoria, TX on a surprise Heracross trip last weekend. To everyone's surprise, we even managed to converge both the Austin and San Antonio heracross buses together for a legendary raid so epic we all got EX passes and had to reunite again 5 days later to raid Mewtwo… LOL
I’m proud to say the legendary raid bus events I started in Austin has already grown to 9 cities all across Texas and Louisiana!
Yea, he certainly doesn't like me one bit. First, WE donated to charity from the start, they only started that after Hurricane Harvey hit (and their San Antonio bus didn't even break even so for SA at least they didn't donate a dime) and second, I've never posted about them publicly or "defamed" them in any way so that's just straight fibbin'! Up until his little rant we had a firm "works not words" policy in place. We did not engage.
Where did I post these "public remarks" exactly? Can he give me an example?
And they never acknowledged me? They may deny that Travis Seago is actually their representative (even though they just thanked him above), but all Travis was doing was copy and pasting Phil's words at first - words in which he calls me a copycat months ago, but maybe that doesn't count as acknowledging my existence since it was copy/pasted by a third party? That's a pretty weak defense.