The Corporate-Fx, Tradeshow Magic Group Blog

By: Scott Tokar, Corporate-Fx Magician and Founder

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Is that REALLY the tradeshow housing bureau calling?

They called me again… I guess it is because I work a tradeshow just about every week of the year. But, each time I seem to receive the same misleading call on my toll-free number. It goes something like this:

“Hello, this is the housing bureau calling about your hotel reservations at the *xyz show. I see that you haven’t made any arrangements with us yet, and I want to ensure that you have the rooms you need for your booth staff.” (*xyz - replace with your next tradeshow name here).

All of the above statements are “true” I guess, but at the same time all of the statements above are dishonest, misleading and designed half-truths… Being a magician I can pick up on these techniques very easily (Example: Do you really think you ever freely select a “random” card from a magician? No.)

First is misrepresentation, maybe the name of the company that is calling really is named or DBA (doing business as) “The Housing Bureau” or something like the “Show Lodging Bureau”, but these companies ARE NOT associated with the tradeshow that they reference… In fact, these companies are no more connected to the actual tradeshow they mention than say Travelocity or Expedia is attached to the show. These are THIRD PARTY travel agents, hotel booking agencies, and boiler-room calling operations.These companies are NOT with the tradeshow they reference. They got your phone number from a third party purchased show list. And THAT is the problem.

NEVER start a business transaction that begins through dishonesty. Think about it, if the transaction STARTS with dishonesty and misrepresentation, there is a good chance that this dishonesty will continue throughout the business transaction to follow… Think credit card fraud, fly by night, etc.

When you book a hotel room, other people profit… If you book the Hilton via Expedia, BOTH Hilton and Expedia are making money off the transaction. You see, the actual lodging options directly affiliated with the show you are attending help the show itself profit (just like Expedia). But often the profit the tradeshow gets is leveraged in discounted their meeting facilities and services for the show itself. If you don’t book your room through the approved show site, the tradeshow itself will not get credit for the room booking… And, if the show can’t profit from the hotel room bookings the cost of running the convention will go up… The cost of your floor space, the meeting rooms, and related services will go up for the show NEXT YEAR and these costs will be reflected in your exhibiting and attendance fees in the future…

Often the official rates for these hotel rooms from the show site have been negotiated to compete with Expedia and Travelocity in the first place, so often the deals are virtually the same. 

Of course, there are times when the room blocks are booked to capacity via the official show site, but then use your own search engines to find the deals on your terms. In this situation I can highly recommend visiting to compare rates and availability. 
But always START with the official show lodging and then look on-line for yourself. Do NOT give these boiler-room scam artists that are calling you your business, and certainly don’t give them your credit card info. If the hotel room you booked via their boiler-room turns out to be over-sold you need to know you are dealing with a reputable business that will be there tomorrow when you call to complain…

And lastly, I hate robo calls and boiler-room cold calls! I never met the boiler-room hotel booking people in the first place, and I never initiated a relationship with them, so if I do business with them I am just encouraging more of these telemarketing calls in the future… 

When I get a call from these boiler-room “housing bureaus” I always ask if they are the official show lodging agent and how they got my number. Often they will fess-up and let you know that they are not. I ask to be removed from the call-out list and I hang up. Legally they can not call you again (See 

So, the next time you get a call from the The Housing Bureau” or “The Show Lodging Bureau” beware, the transaction consequences are probably not in your favor….

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