Hospitality Law
Steven D. Weber
  • Hospitality Law
  • When Competitive Research Crosses the Line
  • Competitive intelligence is a powerful tool used to maintain an advantage over competitors. A wealth of competitive intelligence can be obtained through public documents like public filings, earnings reports, and legal documents. Compiling, reviewing, and extrapolating the competitive intelligence from those documents takes time and money. Succumbing to the temptation to shortcut the necessary effort can have costly legal consequences. Hospitality industry companies must thus be wary of engaging in methods that cross legal and ethical boundaries. Companies must also be watchful of any efforts by their competitors to gather intelligence from them. Read on...

Josias Dewey
  • Hospitality Law
  • Preparing for the Deployment of Blockchain in the Hospitality Industry
  • Earlier this year, the travel company Webjet announced it was in the process of converting a blockchain pilot it had developed into a commercial grade application. The blockchain-based application will be able to provide accurate information about hotel inventory, on a real-time basis, for hotels around the world. Yet, this application of the technology may not have the biggest impact on the industry. This article will discuss these and other possible use cases important to the hospitality industry, including their business justification. Beyond the explanation of use cases, the article highlights several legal considerations that hotel counsel will need to confront and consider as the technology is deployed. Read on...

Dana Kravetz
  • Hospitality Law
  • Labor & Employment: Think Locally, Act Accordingly
  • The matters weighing on the minds of hotel and resort owners and operators are many: average daily rates, occupancy levels, market penetration, revenue generation, operating costs, growth trajectories, tourism trends, customer service demands, real estate concerns, budget constraints, inventory management, cyber security and effective marketing strategies are a few of the major ones. Labor and employment issues are an unusually significant source of concern for hotel executives as well, demanding a disproportionate amount of their attention given the burdensome legal requirements imposed upon employers. Read on...

John Mavros
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Ever Present Threat of a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit
  • The Family Medical Leave Act, the American with Disabilities Act, and worker’s compensation provide employees that are injured or disabled with various rights to leave or reasonable accommodation. An employer’s understanding of these laws is imperative to avoid disability discrimination lawsuits. This article will explore each law’s parameters and the interplay among them. Read on...

Dana Kravetz
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Hospitality Industry Under the Trump Administration
  • Pro-employer stars are aligning in Washington, D.C., that can only benefit the hospitality industry. What began with President Donald J. Trump’s appointment of conservative Alexander Acosta as the United States Secretary of Labor, has been followed by his nomination of Republicans Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel to fill vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board – moves that are decidedly a boon to business. Under Secretary Acosta, the Department of Labor withdrew guidance put in place by the Obama administration on the joint employment issue, a positive step for hotel and resort owners, operators and franchisors. If confirmed, Messrs. Kaplan’s and Emanuel’s presence on the NLRB is certain to lead to the unraveling of various labor-related actions also deemed unfavorable to employers, hoteliers included. Read on...

Steven D. Weber
  • Hospitality Law
  • When Hiring From Your Competitors
  • There is a growing shortage of qualified and skilled hospitality employees. This shortage may lead hospitality brands to hire from competitors. While the idea of hiring a skilled employee with access to a competitor’s information may be tempting, hiring from a competitor may have negative repercussions for the employee, the employer, and for the hospitality brand that is hiring them. To mitigate the risk of such a repercussion, a hospitality brand may wish to consider the below when hiring from a competitor. Read on...

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...

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NOVEMBER: Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive

Eric Rahe

The advent of social media brought with it an important shift in the hospitality industry. Any guest’s experience might be amplified to thousands of potential customers, and you want to be sure that your hotel stands out for the right reasons. Furthermore, technology has increased competition. According to Euromonitor International, the travel industry will have the highest online payment percentage of any industry by 2020, often occurring through third-party sites that display your competitors alongside you. As a result, many hoteliers are looking to stand out by engaging customers and the experience has become more interactive than ever. Read on...

Pat Miller

Even the most luxurious hotel has a finite budget when it comes to the design or re-design of hotel spaces. The best designers prioritize expenses that have the biggest impact on guest perceptions, while minimizing or eliminating those that don’t. This story will focus on three blockbuster areas – the entry experience, the guest room, and the public spaces. This article will focus on these three key areas and shed light on how the decision making process and design choices made with care and attention can create memorable, luxe experiences without breaking the bank. Read on...

Patrick Burke

For over 35 years, American architect Patrick Burke, AIA has led Michael Graves Architecture & Design to create unique hospitality experiences for hotel operators and travelers around the globe, in Asia, Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East. As the hospitality industry has shifted from making travelers feel at home while away to providing more dynamic experiences, boutique hotels have evolved to create hyper local, immersive environments. Having witnessed and contributed to the movement, Burke discusses the value of authentic character that draws on physical and social context to create experiences that cannot be had anywhere else in the world. Read on...

Alan Roberts

More than ever before, guests want and expect the design of a hotel to accurately reflect its location, regardless of whether they visit a property in an urban center, a historic neighborhood or a resort destination. They also seek this sense of place without wanting to sacrifice the level and consistency of service they’ve come to expect from a beloved hotel brand. A unique guest experience is now something expected not just desirable from any hotel wishing to compete in the world today. A hotel’s distinctive design and execution goes a long way to attracting todays discerning customer. Read on...

Coming Up In The December Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Hotel Law: Issues & Events
There is not a single area of a hotel’s operation that isn’t touched by some aspect of the law. Hotels and management companies employ an army of lawyers to advise and, if necessary, litigate issues which arise in the course of conducting their business. These lawyers typically specialize in specific areas of the law – real estate, construction, development, leasing, liability, franchising, food & beverage, human resources, environmental, insurance, taxes and more. In addition, issues and events can occur within the industry that have a major impact on the whole, and can spur further legal activity. One event which is certain to cause repercussions is Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. This newly combined company is now the largest hotel company in the world, encompassing 30 hotel brands, 5,500 hotels under management, and 1.1 million hotel rooms worldwide. In the hospitality industry, scale is particularly important – the most profitable companies are those with the most rooms in the most locations. As a result, this mega- transaction is likely to provoke an increase in Mergers & Acquisitions industry-wide. Many experts believe other larger hotel companies will now join forces with smaller operators to avoid being outpaced in the market. Companies that had not previously considered consolidation are now more likely to do so. Another legal issue facing the industry is the regulation of alternative lodging companies such as Airbnb and other firms that offer private, short-term rentals. Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Monica are at the forefront of efforts to legalize and control short-term rentals. However, those cities are finding it’s much easier to adopt regulations on short-term rentals than it is to actually enforce them. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine these and other critical issues pertaining to hotel law and how some companies are adapting to them.