Hospitality operators planning to exhibit at trade shows have been warned to keep an eye out for a scam that attempts to con exhibitors into signing costly advertising agreements.
Optimum Events, organiser of the annual Hotel & Catering Show, is "strongly advising" exhibitors to be vigilant against organisations, such as Expo-Guide, which has been sending out misleading forms ahead of next March's event in Bournemouth.
Expo-Guide is sending out a form, which resembles an organiser's Free Catalogue Listing Service, inviting exhibitors to sign and return the form for an entry in an online directory. Doing so contracts the purchaser into a non-retractable three-year agreement. Non-payment is then followed by aggressive debt collecting.
The scam is similar to one operated by Fairguide.com/Construct Data Verlag, an Austrian-based organisation registered in Switzerland that regularly publicises its services to exhibitors at events, primarily in Europe.
After receiving a number of complaints and a series of negative press articles, Fairguide/Construct Data settled out of court and agreed to stop sending out the misleading forms.
However, it has now emerged that the company has just altered the look and format of its forms (including a new logo) and is continuing to send these to exhibitors throughout the UK on many different shows.
Anna Wallis, director of Optimum Events, said: "We are strongly advising our members and all exhibitors to be vigilant against organisations such as these, who do not represent the good name developed within the exhibitions industry.
"Please warn all marketing teams who exhibit at any shows about such guides and more generally to carefully read small print details before signing any document. "
By Daniel Thomas
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