The International Association of Exhibitions and Events is considering expelling one of its members for allegedly soliciting members to book hotel rooms for IAEE Expo! Expo! without being the official housing bureau.

IAEE president and CEO Steve Hacker said the practice, often called poaching, is “unacceptable to us” and unless the company ceases its “poaching activities,” the association will move to expel Complete Event Planning, Henderson, Nev., which joined IAEE this past spring. No action has been taken thus far. The board will meet to review the matter within the next few weeks and determine a path forward, says Hacker.

The issue came to light in June when IAEE sent a bulletin to members informing them that several members had received telephone solicitation calls from individuals who said they were associated with CEP in connection with housing for IAEE’s annual meeting, Expo! Expo!. The bulletin explained that CEP is not authorized to provide housing for the event and that rooms booked outside the official housing block can potentially lead to IAEE being charged attrition fees.

If the IAEE board decides to move forward with expulsion proceedings, the company would be given an opportunity to defend itself, but the way Hacker sees it, unless they discontinue this activity, CEP will not be permitted to retain its membership status.—“There’s no place in our membership for people who engage in those kind of practices,” he says.

Alex Alexander, corporate division director at CEP, says the company works only with exhibitors and doesn’t solicit attendees. On average, the company books less than 1 percent of the total number of exhibitors scheduled to attend any one trade show, he states. “I'm certain that our percentage of the market is not causing a marketing company to go into attrition on their block contracts.”

CEP offers a “high-end, exclusive service” for exhibitors that exhibit at multiple shows throughout the year, he says. “We strive to handle the housing needs of this exclusive list of exhibitors throughout their scheduled year.” CEP does not represent itself as an official housing bureau, states Alexander, adding that their clients prefer not to book with official housing companies. “We are proud to be an independent housing bureau, as there are many companies that prefer an independent looking out for their interests,” he continues. This is a new service to the market that many have a hard time understanding, he says, but he equates it to being a buyer’s agent in the real estate market.