Events Council Blog

USPOULTRY Secures $750,000 Judgement Against Room Block Poacher

Mar 05, 2018

Help Us Assess the Extent of the Issue in the Events Industry

Please help us to assess the impact of room block poaching and effectiveness of prevention and response practices by completing the survey here. The average completion time is only 6 minutes. Please complete the survey by April 1, 2018.

In a press release issued 28 February, 2018. USPOULTRY announced the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia awarded $750,000 in damages and attorney’s fees to the Association as a result of its recent challenge to the deceptive advertising practices of the unaffiliated travel agency, Tarzango, LLC. The Court concluded that Tarzango’s use of USPOULTRY’s valid and subsisting IPPE U.S. Trademark Registrations constituted trademark infringement. USPOULTRY is responsible for the organization and execution of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). Each year, exhibitors and attendees are inundated with solicitations from unaffiliated travel agencies, housing agents and other service providers purporting to be endorsed by or otherwise affiliated with trade shows like IPPE. In 2017, Tarzango sent unsolicited emails to IPPE exhibitors and attendees representing that the solicitation was on behalf of IPPE, despite knowledge that Tarzango was in no way affiliated with IPPE or its authorized housing partner, Experient.

In recent years, meetings and exhibitions have been increasingly affected by room block piracy or poaching. Room block pirates and poachers are businesses that actively seek to recruit or divert event participants, primarily attendees and exhibitors, away from official room blocks and into other hotel bookings, using a range of techniques to approach event participants and gain their business. According to the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign’s Issues Brief, created by the International Association for Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), the impact of poaching is estimated at upwards of 15 million bookings per year, resulting in more than $1.3 billion in lost revenue for hotels and money from consumers. “We at IAEE are pleased to see this judgement brought forth for U.S. Poultry Association,” said IAEE President and CEO David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA. “This is an ongoing and prolific issue that affects event organizers and consumers in every state.”

In the United States, the Stop Online Booking Scams Act of 2017 has been introduced in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. The Exhibitions Mean Business Coalition has a current campaign to encourage supporters of the meetings and events industry to ask their Members of Congress to support and co-sponsor the Stop Online Booking Scams Act. Click here for more information. Use the following links to find the current list of co-sponsors for HR 2495, and co-sponsors for S 1164.

In response to these issues, the Events Industry Council conducted a study in 2014 and released resources for event professionals to help reduce the likelihood and mitigate the impact of room block poaching. Karen Kotowski, CAE, CMP, Chief Executive Officer of the Events Industry Council reports "Poaching is a serious issue for the events industry. Our 2014 study found that it affects a range of room rates, industries and planner types, and that the highest reported impacts are non-monetary: relationships, brand and reputation, particularly with exhibitors. While almost all of the respondents were aware of the issue (93%), the majority (70%) did not have practices in place." We are now updating the data to assess the current extent of room block poaching, the effectiveness of prevention and mitigation practices, and the degree to which it is also affecting other services in the events industry.

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To learn more about room block poaching and recommended prevention and response practices, click here for resources from the Events Industry Council.
For more information on the USPOULTRY case, click here.