Hospitality Law
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...

John Mavros
  • Hospitality Law
  • Adapting to the Department of Labor's New Final Rule
  • The Department of Labor (DOL) Final Rule promulgated new regulations that will go effect on December 1, 2016. All employers need to know how these regulations will change the test for exemption to understand what they need to do in response. This article will review the basics for the most common exemptions from overtime under Federal law and will also provide an executive summary of the key changes made by the Final Rule. One of the biggest myths in the workplace is that a “manager” who is paid a salary is automatically an exempt employee. Read on...

Albert Pucciarelli
  • Hospitality Law
  • Best Practices in Arbitration for Hospitality Cases
  • In my two prior articles on alternative dispute resolution, I discussed mediation and expert resolution. In ascending order in terms of “severity” of the matter in dispute, the next alternative for resolving disputes is arbitration. By “severity”, I am referring to the either the complexity of the question to be resolved where legal interpretations, document discovery and witness testimony, even expert witness testimony, may be utilized by the parties to present their side of the dispute. In short, the matter to be arbitrated typically is not unlike matters over which parties go to court, but for reasons we will explore, arbitration may be preferable. 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. For these situations, a neutral third party is called upon to resolve the issue. In the case of a mediator, it’s by skillful intermediation to bring about a compromise. And in the case of an arbitrator, it’s a decision after a process that is similar to a court proceeding (as a judge might render), but intended to be less protracted and costly. 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...

Charles B. Rosenberg
  • Hospitality Law
  • International Investment Treaties and the Protection of Foreign Investments
  • Investing abroad may present lucrative opportunities in the form of new markets and customers. Hospitality companies, however, often face unique challenges when doing business abroad. For example, in 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the expropriation of a Hilton-run hotel on the resort island of Margarita in Venezuela to help develop tourism projects within a socialist framework. Similarly, in 2011, the Sri Lankan government declared ownership of a Hilton-run hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka following a rent-related dispute with the foreign investor. Hospitality companies considering investing abroad thus should be aware of the tools that may be available to protect their international investments. Read on...

Albert Pucciarelli
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Pros and Cons of Mediation in Hotel Disputes
  • As a lawyer involved for over 30 years in the drafting and negotiation of contracts for the hospitality industry, I can assure you that disputes are inevitable. Even among parties such as owners and management companies that have the best working relationships, there will nevertheless be issues that cause discord. Read on...

Banks Brown
  • Hospitality Law
  • Legal Issues with Respect to Virtual Hotels
  • Over the past few years a new business model has taken center stage in the market for transient lodging. The fundamental nature of this new model is an internet booking platform that facilitates and participates in the short-term transient rental of private homes and apartments. Participants in the market are, for example, Airbnb, HomeAway, and onefinestay. The model is often described as part of the sharing economy, in the sense that it facilitates the “sharing” of residential space between transient guests and the primary occupant of that space. Read on...

Richard J. Keating Jr.
  • Hospitality Law
  • Managing Liability Issues at Your Hotel Bar & Restaurant
  • Long ago, a hotel bar or lounge felt like a space filler on the lobby level. Since you could not realistically put another room there, you might as well put a small lounge to serve watered-down drinks and listen to piped-in music. It was a place to offer your guests, because there was nowhere else to really go. And not surprisingly, not many people would go there. Think of the Armada Room that featured Murph and the Magic Tones in the movie “Blues Brothers.” Of course resorts and five-star hotels were the exception, boasting their share of award-winning restaurants. But for most hotels, the nightlife options were never a destination on their own. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid
  • Hospitality Law
  • Developing a Drug Free Workplace Policy
  • Substance abuse of alcohol and drugs, including abuse of prescription drugs and illegal drug use, costs over $400 billion annually, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These costs directly impact the workplace through reduced performance, employee turnover, lower productivity, absenteeism, higher insurance and workers compensation costs, damage to property, criminal activity, and injuries and death from accidents. Developing a workplace drug abuse policy is a way to deter and reduce the incidence of employee substance abuse, to reduce the costs to your establishment, and avoid hardships to others. Read on...

John Mavros

JANUARY: Mobile Technology: A Permanent Sense of Immediacy

Alastair Cush

A growing number of properties are implementing mobile access guest room locking systems and the apps that support them. Many chain standards mandate mobile access and independents are joining the trend. What few operators understand is that mobile access implementation has changed not only every aspect of hotel door locks but also many other areas of hospitality operations. More people are actively involved in the decision making process for hotel locks than before. Mobile access has integrated the lock process with numerous property and chain departments from sales to guest loyalty and brand marketing. The original purpose of improving guest door locks was exclusively loss prevention and security. Read on...

Jim Vandevender

Meeting data and technology have evolved considerably since the days of the bulky ,expensive mail ordered meeting planner guides and hotel catalogues. The ways in which hotels find and book groups is far different than the antiquated methods of not so long ago. As better technology surrounding meetings and events becomes available , hotels appetites for group business seems to also increase at a parallel pace making the need to keep the related technology evolving even more paramount. The companies that provide hotels with this meeting intelligence are continually developing new and more advanced methods of gathering this sought after data to keep up pace with the demand. Read on...

Dave Weinstein

As with so many industries, the smartphone has transformed how organizations interact with their customers. Look at the automotive industry, the airline industry, and of course, the hospitality industry. You start your car’s engine and set the climate control to the desired temperature, buy airline tickets and check-in on your flight and do the same with your hotel room, all from your phone. There is a slew of services that traditionally are offered by hotels via the “book” on the desk. The book is still there, but some hotels allow you to order via the television while others offer integrated tablets. Read on...

Kacey Butcher

Can you imagine your bank choosing not to provide a way to check account status and transactions outside of your monthly paper statement? Can you further imagine a popular franchise restaurant only having paper take-out menus? You would be forced to contemplate what other aspects internally within the organization would make doing business with them complicated and archaic. There you find your own personal underlying immediate expectation of baseline service and operational procedures, where a decision is often made instantly to move onto the next provider. A decision to choose another provider that seemingly knows how to service customers with the utmost up-to-date standards. 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.