This year marked the fifth annual Exhibitors Day and one of the major issues discussed was housing poachers. From June 5-6, convention industry members went to Capitol Hill to bring to light that there are “15 million fraudulent online bookings scams” every year. That’s $1.3 billion in booking scammers’ pockets!
Whether you’re an attendee booking one room or an exhibitor booking massive room blocks in Orlando, these unethical scammers target NPE2021 registrants. They have no affiliation with NPE or the Plastics Industry Association. Read below to understand the practices of housing poachers, how to identify them and how to stop them.
How they do it
Conference poachers source companies’ contact information from promotional material, unauthorized use of databases and purchased lists. They then try to look as convincing as possible with a fake website and may practice trademark infringement with their email addresses and logos. When they get someone to answer the phone or reply to an email, they use scare tactics to create urgency with the event registrants.
The email address for NPE’s Official Hotel Reservation Office (Expovision) is email@example.com. Expovision is the only certified NPE hotel vendor; they negotiate the lowest room rates in the city.
How to notice them
They bombard you with phone calls and emails
If your phone is ringing off the hook from someone claiming to be from the event’s housing provider, then they aren’t legit. Keep this in mind when reviewing an unknown email address or voicemail: Scammers market like Spammers. Housing pirates don’t have to worry about maintaining positive relationships with the conferences, hotels or the thousands of attendees. The official third-party housing office respects people’s time and doesn’t misuse the contact information that the conference shares with them. Email marketing and phone calls are conducted strategically. The convention housing vendor provides useful information like the dates when inventory opens and the cut-off to book within the official room block at the discounted rates.
The official room block for the upcoming NPE2021: The Plastics Show will tentatively open in late spring 2020.
The deals are too good to be true
Be cautious if you’re being offered rooms at national hotel chains that have prices more fit for a motel. These hotel poachers also don’t have their room rates published online, so the attendee can only take their word on the unsolicited phone call. In comparison, the official housing office negotiates the lowest rates with the hotels and are transparent with how the savings stack up compared to travel websites. They accomplish this by preparing hotel partnerships years in advance before the annual meeting, trade show, conference or convention. But most importantly, their room pricing is online.
A full deposit is required
A housing pirate doesn’t honor the price quoted on the phone and once they have someone’s credit card information they may charge not only full deposits, but also undisclosed cancellation fees and nonrefundable charges. This is a major red flag and can leave the booking victim with losses of thousands of dollars. Any company requiring full prepayment should be viewed with extreme suspicion.
Their online presence is murky
A true partnership between an association and housing management company is public. Not sure of the name of your event’s housing office? Head over to the show’s website where they have their housing office’s contact information for attendees and exhibitors. Another way to call out illegitimacy is if the convention doesn’t mention them on their social media channels or mass emails. That’s a sign that they are a rogue wholesaler.
How to stop them
Report the poacher:We strive to protect our clients’ registrants from conducting business with room pirates. If you have been solicited by an illegitimate room poacher, please report them immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay educated:Read exhibitor newsletters and emails from the official housing office (Expovision) and the Plastics Industry Association. These messages will mention any news such as new poachers, known scams, new hotels, low inventory and more.
Save the date!
NPE: The Plastics Show is back at the Orange County Convention Center on May 17-21, 2021