BATON ROUGE — Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell is warning consumers and vendors of a hotel room poaching scam targeting Louisiana meetings, events, and trade shows. “Room poachers” or “room-block pirates” misrepresent themselves as the event’s housing bureau, deceptively convincing attendees to unknowingly book outside the official room block.
“These third-party housing companies are deceptively soliciting attendees of upcoming events and falsely claiming to be the group’s official housing provider,” Attorney General Caldwell said. “These companies are intentionally and unethically undermining the contract between meeting organizers and hotels.”
Attorney General Caldwell said Louisiana convention attendees and vendors are the targets of these scams that work as follows:
The room poachers secure a block of rooms at the headquarters hotel under a fictitious group name. They may also acquire another handful of rooms at several outlying hotels in the same city. The room poachers then zero in on an upcoming event by trolling association websites to gather contacts. Next, the poachers place clever calls or send emails to unsuspecting attendees and vendors, often identifying themselves as the official housing bureau for the event. Some even use the association’s logo and typically claim that rooms are selling out fast.
Victims of this scam usually end up with lower-tier hotel rooms located off the convention shuttle route, far away from the event activities taking place, or attendees and vendors show up to find no room reservation at all. Unfortunately, the attendees’ or vendors’ credit cards have been charged.
Attorney General Caldwell offers these tips to show organizers, meeting planners, and legitimate third-party housing firms:
• Educate your members. Issue alerts, warning members of the financial risks they will face by booking rooms through any party other than the group’s official housing bureau.
• Protect your data. Room poachers go on association websites to find agendas, exhibitors’ names, speaker bios and sponsors. Consider member or vendor only access to agendas and housing reservations.
• Report room poachers. If you are a victim of or suspect hotel room poaching, call Attorney General Caldwell’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889.