Every spring, as the busy conference and event season ramps up, poaching starts. Poaching, you ask? Yes, hotel poaching!
A hotel poacher is a housing company that basically steals your delegate, sponsor and exhibitor lists searching for ways to contact people that may be looking to book rooms for your conference or tradeshow.
Watch out for these companies that go fishing for your attendees and take action when you identify them! The scams vary and change often:
- Some call, stating they are the official housing bureau of the conference
- Some offer an enticing discounted hotel rate
- Others call with the proposition of an upgrade to a suite
There are details and measures you can take to resolve the poaching. Here is how:
- You have every right to warn your attendees. Use your publications, websites, e-newsletters, exhibitor manuals, email blitz, Twitter and Facebook and any other channel you use to communicate with your attendees
- Be clear and concise in your messaging. Here are a few examples I have seen on various association websites:
- Beware of solicitation from unauthorized hotels and housing agencies
- We encourage you to book your accommodation through our sanctioned supplier
- We would like to make you aware of a situation that has been brought to our attention from several of our attendees. There are companies (xxxxHousingxxxx) who have been contacting our exhibitors to assist with hotel reservations
- Include the links to your housing company, department or hotel in every piece of material you send out so that all attendees can book directly and have the information handy all the time
- Name your accommodation partner so that everyone is familiar with their respectability
- Ask your attendees to be the watchdog and report any unauthorized solicitation
- Ask attendees who you know well, such as sponsors’ committee members and board members, to forward any emails they receive from these fraud organizations so that you can investigate further
- Warn them about possible cancellation penalties and credit card fraud and advise them to take precautionary measures
Not only can these scammers cause havoc on your bedroom pick-up which could potentially result in attrition penalties, they can also damage your contractual obligations to your hotel and your own housing partner. Most importantly, they can spoil the conference experience for your attendees and we all want our attendees happy and coming back year after year.
Warning delegates is your best defence, but best practices also entail sharing the scam with the hotel(s) and reporting it to your local cyber-crimes unit. If you or your organization is a victim of fraud, report it no matter how small as it could lead to shutting down more and more criminals.
Don’t be afraid to call them out and fight back!
Here is a sample notice we send out to attendees if we detect poaching. Notice the details it includes:
It has been brought to our attention that the company “Exhibitor Housing Services” (EHS) has been contacting our attendees claiming to represent NAME OF EVENT, and offering “assistance” with hotel bookings. This is a scam!
No one should contact you directly to book your hotel room, offer to track price changes for you, or offer you a “special discounted conference rate” directly.
Do not give any booking or credit card information to other companies. If you have any questions about your hotel reservation, please contact your hotel directly.
If you still need hotel accommodations, the conference hotel is:
Toronto, Ontario M5V 1J4
A rate of $209.00 plus tax is offered based on availability until Friday, April 6th, 2018 at 5 p.m. Call 1-xxxxxxxxxxxx and state that you are calling in for the EVENT NAME 2018 block or book online using the following link: hotel link
If you are contacted by EHS, or a similar company, please contact the EVENT/CONFERENCE office at 416xxxxx or toll free at 1-xxxxxx, so we can work to prevent this from happening to others.
Thank you, and sorry for any inconvenience.