SCAM Alert: Did you book your hotel rooms at OR or HFB with Travel House Services?

If you or anyone at your company booked hotel rooms for either Outdoor Retailer Summer Market or Health & Fitness Business for 2009 using Travel House Services (www.travelhouseservices.com), your room reservations do not exist and you do not yet have hotel rooms for either show -- even though your credit card has likely been charged!
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If you or anyone at your company booked hotel rooms for either Outdoor Retailer Summer Market or Health & Fitness Business for 2009 using Travel House Services (www.travelhouseservices.com), your room reservations do not exist and you do not yet have hotel rooms for either show -- even though your credit card has likely been charged!

Apparently, in early February 2009, Travel House Services began contacting former Outdoor Retailer show attendees informing them that they were specialists in business and convention travel, that they had secured room blocks at major hotels, such as the Shilo Inn at Outdoor Retailer, and that they could offer very special pricing.

The company states, on its website, that its mission is “to provide a one-stop-shop for business and leisure travel with a focus on wholesale pricing, 2nd to none customer service, and an easy, flexible, no additional fee booking process!” 

TravelHouse-Web-SCAM.jpg

The front was very convincing we were told by one show attendee who called us to alert us to the scam. He went back and forth with a woman who seemed to be very professional, communicated by phone and email, and eventually secured, he thought, a reservation at the Shilo Inn. He even received the following confirmation email after providing his credit card company:

Welcome aboard! You have been booked at The Shilo Inn at $125.00 per night, but I do need the signed form faxed or emailed back today in order to guarantee the rate and the availability of the rooms. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions at all.

Thanks, Eileen

He sent back in the form and thought he was good to go at a nice room rate. He even received a follow-up email (see photo below) confirming his need to cancel his room. Nothing, at this point, seemed out of sorts.

TravelHouseSCAM-EmailConfir.jpg

However, when he did not receive any kind of confirmation number for his reservation either from Travel Home Services or the hotel by the end of May, he began to get curious. Then his credit card was charged. So, he called the Shilo Inn and was told he had no room reservation and that Travel House Services had no relationship with Shilo. Apparently, he was not the only one being scammed.

SNEWS® obtained a copy of an internal email to Shilo Hotel staff, which underscores the developing problem…there may be many folks out there who think they have hotel rooms but do not.

“I have been called several times over the past few months by concerned guests who have booked rooms through a company called Travel House Services over the Outdoor Retailers dates of approx. 07/20-07/25/2009. All 3 guests had from (2) to (8) rooms and had already paid deposits. This company had guaranteed rooms with our hotel and would not send confirmation number’s to guests.

The first guest that called was worried because he had not received the confirmation #’s and I searched in our system, with the Housing Connection, (assuming that maybe Travel House Services were holding a sub-block in the Housing Connection Block), and all other venues. We did not have his rooms. I spoke with Michelle Taylor at the Housing Connection and she confirmed that they had no rooms with the company and that she had had trouble with this company in the past. I received a direct phone number for the agent he was working with at Travel House and he was working with at the company and I called for a week, I was told over and over she would call me back and never received a phone call back!

The second guest was worried about her CC already seeing charged and asked me why we were charging it! I explained we did not have anything to do with the charges and she found that Travel House was charging all of her rooms. I let her know I did not have her reservations and once again directed her to Housing Connection.

The third guest had the same scenario as above, (he called today), but the most concerning things is he mentioned that the company stated that the Shilo Inn was holding his rooms, but we cancelled on Travel House, and therefore his rooms were no longer available. He said we did not abide by our contractual agreements and pulled out!

This was the most concerning thing about the situation! Shelly has called to get a Manager’s name with no avail, (They just gave her the run around)…”

SNEWS also called the 800 number listed on the email, as well as on the Travel House Services website, and received only a message stating, “I’m sorry, this mailbox is full. Please call back later.”

A more detailed search of records, plus a call to ATT 411 services, revealed that the Travel House Services Group Inc. has another address: 425 S. 6th St., Las Vegas, Nev. and phone number 702-382-6031. We called at 1:30 p.m. on June 26 and got the following message, “Thank you for calling Travel House Services Group, a professional travel management company. You have reached us after hours….For emergency situations only please call 702-373-1509.” We called that number and received a message that says, “Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of Natasha Hampton and I will return your call at my earliest convenience.” Followed by an automated voice that stated, “Sorry, the voicemail is full.”

A check of the domain name, travelhouseservices.com reveals it was registered through GoDaddy.com on January 30, 2008. The registration is private, so no details are readily available, and the registration is slated to expire on January 30, 2010.

So, what should you do if you used Travel House Services?

First, notify your credit card company and immediately dispute any charge made by them. You can use this article as proof if needed that there appears to be a widespread problem with the company.

Second, you DO NOT have a room reservation for either Outdoor Retailer or Health & Fitness Business.

For Outdoor Retailer room reservations, immediately pick up the phone and contact The Housing Connection, Outdoor Retailer’s official hotel and housing connection for Salt Lake City. In North America call 800-572-9707 and, internationally, call 801-521-9025. They will do their best to accommodate you.

If you are attending Health & Fitness Business, call 800-221-3531 to reach that trade show's official housing partner.

And, in the future, if ANY company calls you out of the blue offering special room rates for Outdoor Retailer or any trade show for that matter, be very suspicious. Check around first before giving them a credit card for a reservation.

--Michael Hodgson

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