If your business has decided to broaden its outreach by participating in trade shows, it pays to carefully research the event promoter. The Better Business Bureau receives complaints from time to time from businesses that have lost money to unethical trade show promoters.
One recent example involved a trade show promoter that sent unsolicited e-mails to companies on the East Coast to invite their participation in an upcoming “Transpo Expo.” Its Web site described the event as a huge transportation trade show and networking event to prepare for the Olympics and claimed sponsorship from many large corporations.
A Better Business Bureau investigation revealed that the promoter was making false representations about the event venue, the date of the event and its sponsors. Upon contacting the two venues advertised on the promoter’s Web site, the BBB was advised that the event is not being held at either location. Companies whose logos appear on the Transpo Expo Web site say they have no knowledge of the event.
When considering renting space at a trade show event, the BBB advises businesses to:
- Ensure that the event is legitimate. Check with the venue to find out if the event has been booked there.
- Investigate the organization that is holding the event to ensure it is reputable. You can do this by contacting your Better Business Bureau for a report on the company (www.bbb.org) and checking with the state Attorney General and local consumer protection organization.
- Has the event been held before? If so, ask to speak to people who attended.
- Consider paying for the event by credit card. If the services are not rendered as promised, you have recourse through your credit card provider.
- Be wary of any Web sites promoting trade show events that do not list the name and address of the trade show organizer or promoter.
- Ask the event organizers about any hidden or add-on costs, such as fees for electricity and Internet hookup, tables and tablecloths, and other charges that may not be included in the booth rental fees.
- Ask to see a booth rental contract before you make any financial commitments. Carefully review the terms and understand what you will be committing to and what recourse you have if the event is cancelled.