Mike Miazga: Be aware of convention scams
You know what I haven’t seen in my email box in a long time?
The old message from some allegedly distressed person in a far-flung country asking you to wire them a sum of cash to get them out of trouble. Or the one where they found some long-lost dough that has my name written on it, but first I have to send them my bank-account information.
Sure, let me get that information for you right away. Not.
Sadly, monetary scams have been around forever. Several years ago, the town I live in experienced a rash of grifters targeting the elderly, and unfortunately some of them handed over large sums of money, funds that were earmarked for retirement and not for the hands of scofflaws.
Here’s the latest scam, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep it in the back of your mind because it could happen to you.
It seems these con artists are working a hotel-booking scam on the convention circuit where they call conventioneers claiming to be with a company that has a different and “better” hotel reservation offer. They explain they are working on behalf of a company and the conference hotel to arrange accommodations for speakers, attendees and vendor exhibitors, offering a “special discounted conference rate.”
It’s one of those plausible scenarios that an unsuspecting attendee could fall for. These scammers know the hotel venue and know the ins and outs of the particular convention by going to the convention website. Calls are then placed to speakers, attendees and exhibitors with the bogus offer. Those who fall for it make the booking through this sham outfit at the allegedly “special discounted conference rate.”
What’s really happening here is the conman (or woman) quotes a BS discounted rate and then makes the victim’s booking through a discount hotels site at regular hotel rates. They then mark up their “discounted rate” with their own daily booking fee, which ends up being a higher overall daily rate than the victim would otherwise get.
And if the conventioneer becomes wise to the con and attempts to cancel, the fraud threatens to charge a significant cancelation fee.
It’s stressful enough traveling to shows, being on the constant go during said shows and trying to juggle everyday work and convention responsibilities. The last thing anybody needs is to have to worry about someone trying to put one over on them and costing them money.
Advice: Always book your hotel through either the convention website, the convention/association folks themselves or directly through the hotel using a specific conference discount code. Anything else that pops up, run for the hills.
ISH Germany: I had the pleasure of experiencing my first ISH Germany show last month. All I can say is, wow! If you thought AHR Expo and the combined KBIS and IBS shows are large and crowded (KBIS/IBS says around 100,000 people turned up in Vegas in February — a 30% increase over Orlando traffic the year before), you ain’t seen nothing. ISH was touting attendance north of 200,000 and that sure looked to be on the low side!
The show, which features products from all our industry disciplines, some that will eventually make it to the United States and some that won’t for code reasons, is held on a fairground site in downtown Frankfurt that has 12 halls and an additional hall called Forum where GROHE was holding court by itself in a monstrous-sized booth filled to the brim with convention-goers.
How big is this spectacle? I caught up with Duravit USA President Tim Schroeder in the company’s booth (also large and slammed with people) and he told me it took two (not a typo) weeks to set Duravit’s booth up. The booth was filled with six truckloads of products and the booth itself (featuring 30 tons of steel) was unloaded from more than 30 trucks. Unbelievable.
Head over to our Supply House Times and Plumbing & Mechanical Facebook pages to check out some videos I shot during the show. I’ll have much more on ISH in the May issue.
Pro travel tip of the month: Sign up for all the major rental-car company’s loyalty programs, even if you only use particular ones sparingly. Most now have it where if you are signed up you can skip the counter and head right to your vehicle. What a difference that makes when you land late at night or are in a hurry to make that important morning meeting on the other side of the city.