Hospitality Law
Steven D. Weber
  • Hospitality Law
  • Take Steps to Protect Your Trade Secrets
  • Taking measures to protect your hospitality organization’s trade secrets before filing or defending against a lawsuit may significantly increase your organization’s chances of obtaining a favorable result in any lawsuit related to the misappropriation of trade secrets. While there are many ways to protect information, hospitality organizations need to be educated on what the law applicable to them considers to be “reasonable” steps that provide the secrecy that is required under the circumstances. This article explores how some courts have interpreted what is reasonable or adequate protection of information such that the information may qualify as a trade secret. Read on...

Benjamin  Ebbink
  • Hospitality Law
  • California Takes Aim at Industry with Housekeeper-Specific Safety Proposal
  • Responding to years of pressure from union advocates and their allies, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) has proposed a first-in-the-nation, industry-specific rule aimed at hotel housekeepers. If enacted, this proposal would greatly impact the industry in California (as well as operators who conduct business in multiple states including California). In addition, as California tends to lead the nation in employment and workplace safety standards, operators in other states should monitor this proposal closely – what happens in California may come to your state next! Read on...

John Mavros
  • Hospitality Law
  • How to Combat EEOC Retaliation Claims
  • Retaliation continues to be the most common claim brought against employers before governmental agencies and in the civil court system. According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency that enforces Federal labor laws, the EEOC received 42,018 charges of retaliation in 2016. That means that a retaliation claim was asserted in 45.9% of all charges submitted. This is more than discrimination based on race and more than discrimination based on disability. Even more concerning is the consistent uptick in retaliation charges, which have increased in number every year since 1997. So, what can employers do to protect themselves against this ever-growing threat? Read on...

Dana Kravetz
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Outlook for Hotel and Resort Operators Post-BFI
  • Eighteen months since the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) revised its standard for the imposition of joint employer liability, and hoteliers remain in a state of legal limbo, unsure what 2017 and beyond have in store on the issue. For those hotel and resort operators whose best response to the question, “how should we continue to move forward in the wake of BFI?” is a shrug of the shoulders, a current scorecard for your consideration. The NLRB shook the hotel franchisor/franchisee landscape with its jaw-dropping Browning-Ferris Industries of California (BFI) decision back in August 2015, which drastically eased the criteria for a company to be considered a joint employer. Read on...

John Mavros
  • Hospitality Law
  • Tip-Pooling Practices May be a Thing of the Past
  • Tip-pooling is a common method for restaurants and similar service businesses to allow back of the house staff and others to share in tips received from customers. However, the US Department of Labor’s regulations and recent rulings by the Ninth Circuit have effectively made tip pooling a thing of the past. This article will explore the current state of tip-pooling laws and the effect that Donald Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, may have on tip-pooling and other regulations in the years to come. Read on...

Albert Pucciarelli
  • Hospitality Law
  • When to Use Expert Determination in Hotel Disputes
  • When we think about alternative dispute resolutions, our first thoughts are likely go to mediation and arbitration. This article, however, discusses a third option – expert determination – whereby the parties who have been unable to resolve a dispute generally concerning a specific, technical matter, look to a specifically qualified individual to decide the matter for them. Read on...

Steven D. Weber
  • Hospitality Law
  • Your Hospitality Industry Trade Secrets May be at Risk
  • Many of today’s hospitality consumers are not only looking for a place to rest their head, but also for a one-of-a-kind experience. If the ingredients for such an experience are stored on computers, in e-mails, in manuals, or even in the heads of employees, then they are susceptible to misappropriation. The risk of misappropriation is compounded by the ease by which employees today may misappropriate those trade secrets by using their smart devices to take photographs, send e-mails, and transfer files. Waiting until the unthinkable happens is unacceptable. Read on...

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...

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MAY: Eco-Friendly Practices: The Value of Sustainability

Eric Ricaurte

In 2011, we visited the 10 hotels contracted in the room block for the Greenbuild conference in Toronto. As part of their award-winning sustainable event program, the conference organizers embedded green practices into the contract language for these hotels, who either had to comply with the requirements, explain their reason why they couldn’t implement them, or pay a $1,000 fine. Part of our consulting work was to gather the data and confirm some of the practices on-site. Read on...

Susan Tinnish

Hotels brands have actively engaged in large-scale efforts to become more environmentally friendly. Individual hotels have made great strides on property. Many significant large-scale eco-initiatives s are most easily built initially into the infrastructure and design of the building and surrounding areas. Given that the adaptation of these large-scale changes into the existing asset base is expensive and disruptive, hotels seek different ways to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. One way to do so is to shift the focus from large-scale change to “small wins.” Small wins can help a hotel create a culture of sustainability. Read on...

Shannon Sentman

Utility costs are the second largest operating expense for most hotels. Successfully reducing these expenses can be a huge value-add strategy for executives. Doing this effectively requires more than just a one-time investment in efficiency upgrades. It requires ongoing visibility into a building’s performance and effectively leveraging this visibility to take action. Too often, efficiency strategies center on a one-time effort to identify opportunities with little consideration for establishing ongoing practices to better manage a building’s performance ongoing. Read on...

Joshua Zinder, AIA

Discussions of sustainability in the hospitality industry have focused mainly on strategies at the level of energy-efficient and eco-friendly adjustments to operations and maintenance. These "tweaks" can include programs to reduce water usage, updating lighting to LEDs, campaigns to increase guest participation in recycling, and similar innovative industry initiatives. Often overlooked—not only by industry experts but even by hotel operators and designers—are possibilities for hotel design and construction that can make a property truly sustainable from the get-go. Read on...

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.