Exhibitors warned about phony fair guide

Exhibitors warned about phony fair guide

(March 15, 2013) Past exhibitors in the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association’s Spring Trade Expo are being warned about a “fair guide” purporting to be affiliated with the organization.

A letter sent to exhibitors this week from Susan Jones and Amy Tingle of the HMRA says the “Fair Guide/Show Fair Guide” is a fraud and is “In No Way associated with our show.” Exhibitors are told not to fill out the paperwork because the “Fair Guide” is actually soliciting them for thousands of dollars. The guide is generated in such places as Slovakia, Mexico and Australia.

Jones said Thursday that some exhibitors were victims.

“We had a couple of people fall for it,” Jones said.

The Fair Guide letter tells exhibitors that the update for their “pre-registered listing in our exhibitors directory is essential to guarantee problem-free communication to all visitors seeking contact with your company and to assure that only accurate data is published.” It goes on to tell exhibitors that an order form is attached if they want to place an order for a payable insertion in the guide.

Exhibitors who ordered a payable insertion were billed about $1,700, Jones said.

This is not the first year that the Fair Guide has targeted exhibitors of the Ocean City show. Jones said this was probably the third year for the solicitations.

She has tried, unsuccessfully so far, to put a stop to it. Last fall, she e-mailed the Fair Guide’s Web site, asking for the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association and its expo to be removed from the site’s query search.

“I do not want any affiliation with your brand, as it is misleading and deceptive to my clients. Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter,” Jones wrote.

She received a read receipt, but no response, on Oct. 22.

The Fair Guide’s Web site, www.fairguide.com, describes itself as “the largest fairs and exhibitors directory on the internet,” and instructs exhibitors to use it “to find companies, fairs and exhibitions all over the world.”

The HMRA works only with approved vendors TS Leads and Foodservice Monthly. “Anyone else who claims to be working with o9ur show, is doing so without our permission,” the letter from Jones and Tingle to exhibitors says.

The HMRA’s Spring Trade Expo was held March 3-4.

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