Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Conference housing pirates--the (criminal) market for hotel rooms

Here's a scam I hadn't encountered before.

I will be speaking at a transplant conference in February, and last week my phone rang and someone asked me if I had already made my hotel reservations, and offered to make them for me. I declined, and emailed the conference organizer asking if this was how housing was being arranged. In reply I got the following (slightly redacted) email, addressed to all the speakers....

"Dear ... Faculty,

I have received word from two speakers who advised me that they were contacted by a company called Expo Housing. (They can go by other names too) xxx told me she was contacted by a xxx who left an 866 call back number.

This company ...has NOT been contracted to organize, sell or arrange housing for anyone attending or speaking at the [conference] taking place in February 2016 ....

Please DO NOT BOOK housing with anyone. As a speaker you will receive a travel and housing survey from me or another member of the  staff located in the ... National Office. Please contact me immediately if you are contacted by anyone trying to book your housing. 

Our housing website is under construction at this time but again, as a speaker your housing will be arranged by  staff.

Housing pirates or hijackers are illegal entities who "sell" hotel rooms. These rooms can exist or not exist. Often times your money is lost. Typically these people target large meetings like the American Transplant Congress, but no meeting is safe. Any rooms booked through a pirate are not guaranteed by the group nor will they be included in the [conference] block of rooms. "

1 comment:

Mike said...

We had the same problem at the EURO (European Operational Research Societies) conference in Glasgow. It seemed then that the hotels were actively abetting this activity.