Hospitality Law
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...

Jerome G. Grzeca
  • Hospitality Law
  • Staffing Solutions for the Hotel Industry
  • Hotels, like other U.S. companies, are struggling to find solutions to staffing shortages. Every month, more than a quarter-million Americans turn 65, which is a trend that has profound workforce and economic consequences in this country. In addition, unemployment rates continue to fall, dropping to 4.9% nationwide in September 2016. These changes, along with other factors like increases in occupancy rates and high labor costs, have resulted in many hotel companies having trouble finding and hiring qualified workers for open positions. Of course, it’s not an option for the rooms not to be cleaned or for the meals not to be prepared and served when employees are hard to find. Read on...

Arthur Tacchino
  • Hospitality Law
  • Checking Into the 2016 Reporting Season
  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is likely one of the most confusing pieces of legislation you have to comply with, and the hospitality industry, especially hotels, is more complex than most when it comes to ACA reporting. This year, the stakes are higher as the IRS removes all the safety nets that were in place in 2015. Whether you reported with complete accuracy and auditability for 2015, or the notion of ACA reporting still makes your head spin, there’s a lot to learn from last year’s mishaps and this year’s expectations Read on...

John Mavros
  • Hospitality Law
  • Class Action Waivers in Employment
  • Employment arbitration agreements commonly include mandatory class action waivers. Class action waivers can be a powerful tool for employers to prevent potentially devastating class action lawsuits. Until several months ago, employers didn’t have to think twice about whether a class waiver was a lawful part of their arbitration agreement. That all changed when Federal Circuit Courts in Lewis v. Epic Systems (7th Circuit) and Morris v. Ernst & Young (9th Circuit) held that class action waivers violate the National Labor Relations Act’s guarantee of collective action and therefore could not be enforced under the Federal Arbitration Act. These decisions have created a circuit split between Federal courts across the country. This article will survey this treacherous legal landscape and share some guidance for employers’ arbitration agreements during these uncertain times. Read on...

Dana Kravetz
  • Hospitality Law
  • How a Trump Presidency Impacts Labor Relations in the Hotel Industry
  • President-elect Trump is unlikely to support continued federal labor and employment agency activism in wage and hour and other employment-related matters. What does this mean in the context of the hotel industry? Can hotel owners and franchisors expect immediate relief? In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, we forecast a clear pro-business shift in labor and employment policy under Donald Trump. Republicans will assume control of not only the presidency, but both houses of Congress in 2017. Mr. Trump will also likely act quickly to appoint a conservative justice to the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia, and he will possess the power to fill open seats as they arise on the 12 federal circuit courts. Read on...

Albert Pucciarelli
  • Hospitality Law
  • Litigation as the Method of Dispute Resolution for Hospitality Cases
  • In my three prior articles on alternative dispute resolution, I discussed mediation, expert determination and arbitration. Resorting to the court system may be necessary only because the parties in their agreements did not provide for the resolution of disputes by one of the three alternative dispute mechanisms. Even so, as the dispute devolves to one that the parties will not resolve by negotiation alone, they may at any time agree to mediate, submit the matter to an expert or arbitrate. Read on...

AUGUST: Food & Beverage: Multiplicity and Diversity are Key

Larry Steinberg

The foodservice industry is one of the oldest and most important. Consumers from all demographics rely on it virtually every day for sustenance. In fact, in the U.S. alone, it’s a nearly $800 billion industry that’s extremely competitive, with hundreds of new establishments popping up every year, and much of this new business is the result of increased consumer demand. Consumers want more options. For every practiced chef, there is a collective of guests eager to spend their hard-earned dollars on something exotic and different. They want to experience a bit of culture by way of their next meal, and they want to find it using the latest technology. Read on...

Frank Sanchez

About two years ago, I started my career at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. I came from San Diego, California, the apparent capital of farmer’s markets. When I moved to Chicago in late-October, the number of farmer’s markets had already begun to taper off and all that was left of the hotel’s rooftop garden was the sad remnants of a summer full of bounty. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise. The Chicago Marriott Downtown operates a year-round experience to create food from scratch that gives customers fresh and nutritional options. I was thrilled to join a team that can tell a customer that the very greens on their plate were grown just floors above them. Read on...

Thomas  McKeown

To serve today’s eclectic, socially engaged and sophisticated guests, hotels and chefs need to get creative, change their thinking and push back some walls – sometimes literally. The fun thing about meetings hotels is that they are a different place just about every week. One week we’re hosting a bridge tournament, the next a corporate sales team, or a dentists’ conference, or sci-fi fans in costumes, or cheerleaders jumping for joy. You name the group, and our hotel has probably welcomed them. Read on...

Elizabeth  Blau

Over the past several years, many of us have watched with excitement and interest as the fast-casual restaurant segment has continued to boom. More and more, talented chefs with fine dining pedigrees are bringing their skills, creativity, and experience to concepts built around speed, approachability, and volume. Right now, the ability to offer a gourmet experience at all price points is as compelling to restaurateurs and diners alike. Read on...

Coming Up In The September Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Hotel Group Meetings: Blue Skies Ahead
After a decade of sacrifice and struggle, it seems that hotels and meeting planners have every reason to be optimistic about the group meeting business going forward. By every industry benchmark and measure, 2017 is shaping up to be a record year, which means more meetings in more locations for more attendees. And though no one in the industry is complaining about this rosy outlook, the strong demand is increasing competition among meeting planners across the board – for the most desirable locations, for the best hotels, for the most creative experiences, for the most talented chefs, and for the best technology available. Because of this robust demand, hotels are in the driver’s seat and they are flexing their collective muscles. Even though over 100,000 new rooms were added last year, hotel rates are expected to rise by a minimum of 4.0%, and they are also charging fees on amenities that were often gratis in the past. In addition, hotels are offering shorter lead times on booking commitments, forcing planners to sign contracts earlier than in past years. Planners are having to work more quickly and to commit farther in advance to secure key properties. Planners are also having to meet increased attendee expectations. They no longer are content with a trade show and a few dinners; they want an experience. Planners need to find ways to create a meaningful experience to ensure that attendees walk away with an impactful memory. This kind of experiential learning can generate a deeper emotional connection, which can ultimately result in increased brand recognition, client retention, and incremental sales. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group business and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.