There be pirates about, Meeting Planners. And I am not talking about the eye patch wearing, rum drinking types. These pirates are not out for your ship, but for your rooms.
With growing frequency, conference organizers are seeing false companies, posing as housing bureaus or hotel representatives, and offering discount room rates to attendees. This is costly on so many levels. Attendees are tricked into giving out their credit card information in order to secure a room for the conference, only to find out that they’ve been scammed. They find that they do not in fact have a room, but they are sure to have plenty of concern and a possible loss of trust in your organization. As a meeting planner, this will definitely affect your room block and may even negatively impact your relationship with the venue.
In order to keep your meeting safe and secure from these scurvy dogs, make sure to take the following steps:
- Ensure that all your printed materials, online information and e-blasts clearly state the approved housing company or method of acquiring rooms.
- Warn attendees of possible poachers. Explain how using your approved methods for securing a room are for their protection.
- If you catch on that you have a pirate working your event, be sure to gather as much information as possible and share it with your attendees and contacts.
- Get your lawyer involved, at the very least a cease-and-desist letter should be sent. Ask the hotel to do the same.
- Protect your websites and floor plans with passwords; do not freely hand out information about who will be attending, exhibiting, sponsoring or speaking.
- Ask the local CVB for help; this sort of activity only hurts them, so they should feel compelled to lend a hand.
- Register a complaint with the Better Business Bureau; they are aware and familiar with this sort of activity.
It is so frustrating to have to deal with this sort of trouble at sea, you’re already super busy. But as we all know, it’s better to be safe in order to protect your good name and conference reputation. Time to make those room pirates walk the plank!