2018 marked the fifth annual Exhibitors Day and one of the major issues discussed was housing poachers. In June 2018, 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 Las Vegas, these unethical scammers target registrants for PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2019. They have no affiliation with PMMI. Read below to understand the practices of event housing poachers, how to identify them and how to stop them.

How they do it

Conference poachers source companies’ contact information from promotional material and unauthorized use of databases and 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 contact information for Expovision: PACK EXPO’s Official Hotel Reservation Office is packexpohotels@expovision.com and (866) 523-0877 (toll free). Expovision is the only certified event housing vendor for the trade show.

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. Expovision, the official third-party housing office respects people’s time and doesn’t misuse the contact information that PACK EXPO Show management shares with them. Email marketing and phone calls are conducted strategically. Expovision, 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 deadline to book with Expovision is Monday, August 26th.

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 Expovision, the official housing office negotiates the lowest rates with the hotels and are transparent with how the savings stack up compared to travel websites. How does Expovision get these great deals? The team goes on-site to check hotels and prepares hotel contracts years in advance.

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.

No deposit is required to book with Expovision. A credit card guarantee is required and the hotel will charge the card for the first night’s stay plus tax about 2-4 weeks prior to check-in.

Their online presence is murky

A true partnership between an association and housing management company is easy to find online. 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.

The Twitter accounts @Expovision_inc and @packexposhow share hotel details for the event. Tweet about the event using #PACKEXPOLasVegas!

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 packexpohotels@expovision.com and expo@pmmi.org.

Stay educated: Read exhibitor newsletters and emails from the official event housing office (Expovision) and PMMI. These messages will mention any news such as new poachers, known scams, new hotels, low inventory and more.