Hospitality Law
Amy Bailey
  • Hospitality Law
  • Why is the Hotel Industry a Target for FLSA Prosecutions?
  • There's a big red bulls eye in the hotel industry. In fact, accommodation and food services ranks #1 in sheer volume for wage and hour prosecutions by the Department of Labor. That’s 24.4% of all the cases that have been brought since 1985. To put that number into perspective, hotels, restaurants, and bars—from the behemoths to the holes in the wall—have been required to pay more than $276 million in government prosecutions alone, with an average payout of $9.5k for every business affected. Read on...

Banks Brown
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Chink in the Armor of the Communications Decency Act
  • CDA § 230 is shorthand for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230 (2016). It is the law cited by short term rental companies (“STRC”), such as Airbnb, when they argue with city and state governments and in the courts that their businesses are not subject to state and local regulation. It is fair to say that the STRCs are of the opinion that city and state governments are nearly powerless to regulate them in any way whatsoever, absent their consent. Read on...

William A. Brewer
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Challenges and Opportunities of Foreign Investment in the U.S. Hospitality Market
  • They’re Coming to the U.S.A. Foreign investors are making headlines as they take ever bigger positions in the U.S. hospitality market. Notably, the structure of the hotel management agreement (HMA) – a complex and often misunderstood instrument – has major legal implications for foreign owners and managers. In this article, we explore the friction between owners and operators whose interests are not always aligned – particularly during periods of economic downturn. Therefore, negotiating a proper HMA is critical to governing the relationship. Read on...

Theodore C. Max
  • Hospitality Law
  • Digital Marketing: Native Advertising and Online Influencers in the Hospitality Industry
  • The FTC’s has stepped up enforcement of social media advertising in the entertainment and fashion industries and this effort is likely to continue and expand to other industries. Advertisers and retailers in the travel tourism and hospitality industry need to be mindful to make sure that if any content is sponsored or any influencer or spokesperson is paid to promote a product or services online, a clear and conspicuous disclosure is required. It is possible that FTC enforcement also may soon target individual influencers and require clear and conspicuous disclosures by them regarding the endorsement of products or services for compensation. Read on...

Lynn K. Cadwalader
  • Hospitality Law
  • The EB-5 Visa Program: The Outlook for 2017
  • Looking forward to 2017, the EB-5 Immigrant Visa Program will face both challenges and opportunities. Fortunately for the Hospitality Industry, hotels are still ideal projects for EB-5 financing. In this Article, I will discuss some of the major issues and impacts on the EB-5 Immigrant Visa Program anticipated for 2017, and review the benefits to financing hotels through the EB-5 Program. Read on...

David M. Samuels, Esq.
  • Hospitality Law
  • On Guard - The Shifting Landscape of Guest Privacy
  • When it comes to guest privacy, the operational landscape has changed dramatically over the last two years. Historically, “service” has referred to attending to guests’ needs in relation to such things as in-room amenities, quality of sleep, dining and entertainment options, cleanliness, etc. But, the book ends formed by the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in its 2015 Patel decision and the high-profile Erin Andrews matter in 2016, have created an entirely new operational landscape where protecting guest privacy must be an integral element of every hotel’s “service” model. Read on...

Anne  Alexander
  • Hospitality Law
  • Beyond the Twice-Used Towel: Using PACE Financing to "Green" Hotels
  • It is no secret in the hospitality industry that a tremendous amount of energy, water and other resources is required to serve guests. However, the industry as a whole has taken steps to become more energy and resource efficient within the last ten years. We are all familiar with the placards found in most hotel rooms today, asking guests to indicate whether they want their sheets and towels changed on a daily basis or whether they will use them again. While hotels historically washed sheets and towels every night even when there was no turnover in the room. Read on...

Luis J. Gonzalez
  • Hospitality Law
  • Tip the Scales in Your Favor by Providing Tipped Employees with Adequate Written Notice
  • Complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Department of Labor’s (DOL) regulations for tipped employees continues to present challenges for hoteliers and others in the hospitality industry. While recent attention has been paid to proper tip pooling practices (employers requiring certain tipped employees to chip in a portion of their tips, which are then divided among a group of employees), equal attention must be given to the FLSA’s mandatory notice provision to tipped employees. A continuing trend in wage and hour lawsuits stems from the employer’s failure to give the tipped employee the required notice. Read on...

John R. Hunt
  • Hospitality Law
  • An Update on the Ability of the Police to Search Hotel Records
  • Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that placed restrictions on the ability of law enforcement officers to inspect hotel guest registers and other records. Many local laws, which had authorized unlimited police inspections, suddenly were rendered unconstitutional. This article reviews that decision and discusses the developments that have occurred in this area during the past year. Until recently, hotels in many jurisdictions routinely provided the police with access to their guest registers without much concern about the privacy issues that might be involved. After all, numerous cities and towns possessed ordinances that required hotels to collect specific guest information and allowed the police inspect the information upon request. Read on...

Francesca A. Ippolito-Craven
  • Hospitality Law
  • How Hotels Can Minimize the Bite of the Zika Virus
  • The Zika virus has created a potential myriad of legal issues that should be considered by hotel owners and operators in the United States and its territories, particularly in light of the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the Zika virus infection and its associated congenital and other neurological disorders continues to be a “public health emergency of international concern.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also advised that pregnant women should consider postponing non-essential travel to locales that have been zoned areas of active transmission. Read on...

Justin Thompson
  • Hospitality Law
  • Legal Implications of Hotel Brand Proliferation
  • There is no denying the importance of a brand in the context of hotels. Branded hotels make up approximately 70% of the total rooms in the United States hotel system and are predicted to grow to 80% in the next 10 years. The somewhat recent explosion in new brands from existing hotel companies can be seen as significantly contributing to this growth. In the past 35 years, the number of brands has quadrupled. In fact, brand proliferation has become so ubiquitous that the top seven hotel companies now account for 90 different hotel brands. A discussion follows of some of the more salient legal issues that the recent explosion in hotel brands has produced. Read on...

Tyra Hilliard
  • Hospitality Law
  • Food Allergies and the Changing Application of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • More than 15 million Americans, nine million of them adults, have food allergies. While handling special dietary requests is not a new issue for hotels, the practical and legal issues surrounding accommodating dietary restrictions are changing. According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), food allergies are on the rise. Because nearly half of fatal food allergy reactions are caused by food consumed outside the home, it isn’t a far stretch to imagine that a significant number each year may occur in hotels. Eight foods are responsible for 90% of all allergic reactions in the U.S.: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Read on...

Michael Wildes
  • Hospitality Law
  • Help from Abroad - Visa Options for the Hospitality Industry
  • An article published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management has declared that “the hospitality industry is facing a major personnel shortage.” The authors provide the following advice to hotel and hospitality managers: “demographic changes … suggest that the hospitality industry should reconsider tactics for recruitment and retention.” The authors’ advice is nothing new - hotel and hospitality managers have long struggled to find and retain suitable staff. In fact, many hotel recruiters wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the aforementioned article wasn’t published this year, this decade, or even in this century – but in 1992. Read on...

Victoria Kane
  • Hospitality Law
  • Newly Enacted Employment Regulations Affecting Hotels
  • Business planning for next year is in the works to increase revenue and profitability in uncertain economic times. Hotels are forecasting occupancy by predicting tourism trends affected by extreme weather, airline troubles, tax increases, and terrorism. However, if businesses don’t have a risk management strategy for compliance with ever-changing laws affecting employment, benefits, safety, social media use, accessibility, and privacy, they are already way behind. To assist in the prioritization of a hotel’s compliance strategy, this article highlights some of the top legal issues occurring in employment, but which directly impact operations. Read on...

Gregory A. Wald
  • Hospitality Law
  • Changes in Employment Verification and Enforcement Will Impact Hospitality Employers
  • On July 1, 2016 several federal agencies published regulations that significantly increased, and in some instances doubled, the civil penalties that could be levied against employers for Form I-9 paperwork violations, unauthorized employment of foreign national workers and for other immigration-related violations, including immigration discrimination charges. Due to the implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Sec. 701 of Public Law 114-74) (“Inflation Adjustment Act”), higher fines and civil penalties have now gone into effect for assessments that occur on or after August 1, 2016. These higher penalties can be applied to violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, the day the President signed the Act into law. Read on...

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JANUARY: Mobile Technology: A Permanent Sense of Immediacy

Michael P. O'Day

For many hotel guests, the most appealing hotels are the properties that offer instant connectivity with the bandwidth capable of supporting multiple devices. As our need for faster speeds and higher quality content continues to grow, hotel guests now expect uninterrupted service putting more pressure on hotel IT building designs. As more and more guests shift to the “always connected” mindset, hotels must be able to deploy technology solutions with minimum downtimes that can grow with the increasing dependence on mobility. Hoteliers must now meet today's guest technology expectations while preparing for tomorrow by installing an infrastructure in which the bandwidth and technology can be expanded as the need arises. Read on...

Terence Ronson

There’s only one way to view this – we live in a mobile world. Almost any consumer product or service developed today, is most likely created with a mind-set that one day it will somehow be used in a mobile manner. Consigned to oblivion are the days when we need to return to a desk to do email, go to a fixed line to make a phone call, plug into a network port for internet connectivity, have a hard-wired antenna to watch TV, or wear a wired headset to listen to music. Read on...

Scott Schaedle

It’s no secret that mobile technology has reshaped the consumer travel experience. Today’s traveler can check in and out of a hotel without ever speaking to a human being. That lack of human interaction and direct communication is both a good and bad thing for the hospitality technology industry. From booking a reservation to leaving a review, mobile use continues to rise in the hospitality technology sector, and is not slowing down any time soon. Today, nearly 60 percent of travelers book hotels using a mobile device while 81 percent of travelers find user reviews important when considering which hotel to book. Read on...

Court Williams

In some ways, running a successful hotel comes down to a proposition both simple and sometimes complex: delivering service that exceeds the expectations of your guests. You need to provide comfort and hospitality, but also something extra to set yourself apart from other properties. Without differentiating yourself in the market, you risk becoming just one of many hotel options, rather than the preferred choice for your market. One valuable way to set yourself apart from your competition is through embracing technological opportunities available to hotels. If you leverage mobile technology, a wealth of options are emerging that can deliver new conveniences and services that enhance the guest experience. Read on...

Coming Up In The February Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Social Media: Interacting with the Hotel Customer
Consider these astonishing numbers: 1.49 billion active monthly Facebook users. 1.1 billion active monthly YouTube users. 320 million active monthly Twitter users and nearly 400 million registered users on LinkedIn. 400 million active monthly Instagram users and 200 million active Google+ users. The power and reach of social media is an awesome force and it has transformed how hotels interact with their customers. In the past year, social media advertising spending increased 33.5% to nearly $24 billion dollars. Social networks are being utilized by hotels to reach more visitors, expand brand awareness, enhance brand reputation and to establish more direct and personal communication with their customers. Savvy hotel operators are adopting a comprehensive social media strategy, and there are several emerging trends to note. Video continues to be a powerful and influential element in social media marketing, with 70% of companies saying that it is their most effective marketing tool. Video generates a 62% higher engagement rate than photographs alone, and with new social sites like Meerkat and Periscope which offer live video streaming, those numbers will only increase. Sponsored content is another growing trend. Though advertorials have been around for decades, hotels are finding new ways to maximize the visibility of their content. Some are placing sponsored content on Facebook, or on influencer blogs. Another trend is the integration of a “Buy Now” button into social media websites. Customers will be able to make purchases without ever having to leave their favorite social sites. This development is a major convenience for customers and should also be an additional revenue source for hotels. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.