Hospitality Law
Lema Khorshid
  • Hospitality Law
  • Occupancy and Operations Tips For Your Hospitality Business
  • It is no surprise that hospitality businesses often experience an uptick in customer traffic and interest as the weather warms, local residents emerge from their winter shells to frequent local hot spots and drive up to their familiar weekend getaway locations, and out-of-town tourists flood popular entertainment districts for days at a time seeking great hotels, restaurants and attractions. In fact, an annual report released by Adobe in May revealed that U.S. consumers are expected to spend $65 billion online on summer travel this year. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster
  • Hospitality Law
  • What is the Future of Hotels Now that Millennials are the Largest Generation (in the U.S.)?
  • Whether it is Hyatt Centric, Canopy by Hilton, AC Hotels by Marriot, Vib by Best Western Hotel, Radisson Red, or OE Collection from Loews Hotels, established hotel chains are deploying a new strategy to address the ever growing buying power of Millennials. These chains are creating new brands that specifically cater to Millennials. In fact, besides the established Hotel companies, new chains are being, or have been, created to address the Millennial generation, or there corporate ownership is being disguised. The focus on Millennials by hotel companies is not just a U.S. trend; it’s worldwide. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster
  • Hospitality Law
  • Investigating Sexual Harassment Claims: A Guide for Hospitality Employers
  • Although some claims of sexual harassment made by hotel and restaurant employees may not prove to be true, an employer’s failure to properly address sexual harassment complaints may render the employer liable for significant damages to a prevailing employee. Once an employee has complained of sexual harassment, an internal investigation is necessary to address and resolve the claim. This article describes best practices to take when conducting an internal investigation of a sexual harassment claim. This article also describes policies and procedures an employer can implement to help avoid sexual harassment claims Read on...

Lonnie Giamela
  • Hospitality Law
  • White Collar Exemptions and Why Job Descriptions are Essential
  • One of the most common misconceptions employers have is that an employee can be paid a salary merely because of their position or title within the company. Many well-intentioned employers latch on to this misconception and end up paying salaries to "managers," "administrative assistants," or other employees with lofty titles even though the law dictates otherwise. Of course, this can lead to very expensive misclassification lawsuits. This article explores a specific sub-set of exemptions, the "white collar" exemptions, and explains how they are applied. It will also describe what a well-written job description looks like and why it is essential to avoiding and defending against employee lawsuits. Read on...

Michael Elkon
  • Hospitality Law
  • What Hotel Leadership Should Know About the Emerging Trend of Assault and Battery Claims
  • While defining a “hostile work environment” is generally commonplace for HR professionals, one new, emerging trend in the workplace is the filing by employees or their attorneys of assault and battery charges. The law regarding assault and battery in the civil context has existed for decades, but in recent years, lawyers representing employees have started to make use of these claims with increasing frequency. This article lists five primary reasons for this shift, along with enumerating six steps an employer should follow to protect his company against an assault and battery claim. Read on...

Judi Jarvis
  • Hospitality Law
  • Why a Good Lawyer is a Great Sales Tool
  • As with most industries, there are myriad competing interests in the hospitality sector: developer vs. lender; franchisor vs. franchisee; operator vs. guest; owner vs. management company. The list, cynical as it may be, goes on. But there is one thing on which nearly all business people agree, and that unifies even the most divided of parties: lawyers kill deals. As a profession, we may have earned that reputation through negative comments about proposed transactions; advice based on theory and not practice; and a failure to put our clients ahead of ourselves. A good lawyer in the hands of a smart client, however, not only avoids killing deals but can be one of your best sales tools. Read on...

Mark S. Adams
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Shrinking Terms of Hotel Management Agreements
  • The relationship between hotel owners and managers continues to evolve. Hotel management agreements historically were long-term. Fifty to sixty year terms were common. However, in the last few years, hotel owners have successfully negotiated shorter contract durations and other more favorable terms, even from the largest and most sought-after major brands. This trend is likely to continue and expand as brands realize that hotel owners have the power to terminate so-called no cut, long-term hotel management agreements, despite contrary provisions in the contract which courts now routinely ignore as a matter of public policy. Read on...

John R. Hunt
  • Hospitality Law
  • Update on Tip and Service Charge Litigation
  • The past year has witnessed a continued surge in the number of federal wage and hour cases filed against businesses throughout the United States, including those in the hospitality industry. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Labor has engaged in enforcement initiatives directed at hotels, restaurants and bars. All of this has occurred against a backdrop of proposed regulatory reform that could affect the way in which hotel and restaurant operators compensate their employees. This article reviews some of the more important developments in these areas. Read on...

William A. Brewer III
  • Hospitality Law
  • The New Frontier: Understanding Rights and Responsibilities When Changing Hotel Brands
  • Tension between hotel owners and hotel management companies comes as no surprise during tough economic times. But even in times of improved economic prosperity, some hotel owners are intolerant of management companies that fail to manage assets in the most effective and profitable manner possible. This results in certain owners seeking, or being compelled, to convert their asset to a different brand, or in some cases no brand at all. They do so to protect their long-term economic interests in markets that have proven to be cyclical. In this piece, we explore important considerations regarding the respective rights and responsibilities of owners and managers in such circumstances. Read on...

Lonnie Giamela
  • Hospitality Law
  • Avoiding Liability for Retaliation Claims
  • Retaliation lawsuits are the most common claims brought against employers before governmental agencies and are increasing in frequency in the civil court system. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in 2013, a retaliation claim was made in 41.1% of all charges submitted to the EEOC. This is more than discrimination based on race and more than discrimination based on disability. Even more concerning is the consistent uptick in retaliation allegations. Retaliation claims have increased in number every year since 1997. So, what can employers do to protect themselves against this ever-growing liability? First, employers must understand what retaliation is. Next, employers must be able to issue spot when a particular set of facts poses a high risk for a retaliation claim. This article will attempt to do both. Read on...

Marjorie Obod
  • Hospitality Law
  • What do Hotel HR Managers Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act and the January 1, 2015 Deadline for Compliance?
  • What steps do Hotel HR Managers need to take to determine if the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) requires that changes be made to the healthcare benefits offered to employees by January 1, 2015? Although the seasonal exception may apply to employees in the hotel industry, the fact that the definition for “full time” employees under the ACA lowers the threshold number of hours an employee needs to work to be considered a “full time” employee from 40 hours a week to 30 hours a week, requires that HR Managers recalculate whether the fifty (50) full-time of full-time equivalent employees cutoff has been met. In addition to factors that must be considered in determining if the ACA applies to your hotel, this article outlines what HR Managers need to do to prepare for the January 1, 2015 effective date of the ACA. Risks for non-compliance are outlined so that HR Managers are aware of how to act prudently in protecting businesses from unnecessary costs that can be avoided through understanding the law and taking responsive action. Read on...

Banks Brown
  • Hospitality Law
  • The Continued Challenges of Safety and Security After 9/11
  • As this article is being written, two armed police officers guard the front of the building that houses our law offices, and have been a fixture since the UN was in session over three weeks ago. The officers first appeared at the same time that government agents encased in flack jackets, bearing machine guns, and accompanied by canine units appeared on the streets outside of Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library. Last week also brought news that NYC’s Office of Emergency Management ran a training exercise that simulated an emergency response to a 10-kiloton nuclear device exploding in Times Square, which according to the simulation, killed 100,000 people instantly, took down skyscrapers for a half-mile radius and inflicted damage up to two miles away, all as a radiation cloud swept over the entire metropolitan region. No doubt, the nation’s safety and security are still critical issues. Read on...

Andria Ryan
  • Hospitality Law
  • Employee Theft – Protecting More Than Property
  • The problem of employee theft in hotels is an age-old problem. Businesses lose billions of dollars each year in employee theft. And hotels, by nature, present numerous opportunities for employee theft from guests and the house. Theft in a hotel can take many forms – from identity theft to credit card fraud to theft of merchandise and guest property. No employer hires an employee thinking that the employee is someday going to steal. Hotels need to take steps to prevent theft and be cautious in taking action against an employee after a suspected theft. Both have practice and legal implications. Read on...

J.Thomas Cairns
James D. Gassenheimer
  • Hospitality Law
  • Mitigating the Threat of Cybersecurity Litigation in an Ambiguous Regulatory Environment
  • The hospitality industry has become an ever increasing target for cybercrimes and accordingly, for related litigation. Although the prevailing legal standard requires hotels and other businesses to take reasonable steps to protect customers’ personal information, juries tend to hold the hospitality industry to higher standards. Jurors relate to guests on vacation and believe they should not have to bring with them the same level of vigilance they apply to their everyday lives. With expectations heightened, how should businesses approach protecting customers’ personal information from cybersecurity threats in this ambiguous regulatory environment, and what steps can be taken to mitigate exposure to cybersecurity lawsuits? This article explores these issues in the context of agency guidance and recent federal court opinions issued in the FTC’s pending enforcement action against Wyndham Worldwide Corporation and related entities. Read on...

MARCH: Human Resources: Inspiring a Journey of Success

Sandy Asch

Baby boomers, Gen Xers, and especially Millennials, who now make up more than 50 percent of the workforce, want a sense of purpose at work. It’s clear that today’s workforce is increasingly concerned with doing good. People are tired of just showing up every day to perform a job. They want lasting fulfillment at home and at work. In his book, Drive, Daniel H. Pink suggests that we are in a time where individual desire to have a positive impact in the world often ranks higher than pay scale when selecting a job. Millennials, in particular, want to feel like their work has real purpose, and they want to be home for dinner. Read on...

Whitney Martin

As new properties explode on the scene and traveler choices abound, hotels know they have to pull out all the stops to make every guest experience a positive one. Are staff friendly are courteous? Are rooms clean? Are meals excellent? Are bills accurate? We rely on our employees to execute their jobs, not just correctly, but with enthusiasm. And, if they don’t, business suffers. We do our best to hire good people (in a competitive market), we give them a little training, and then we HOPE they create raving fans. Ever heard the expression “hope is not a strategy”? Read on...

Joyce Gioia

Worldwide, the hospitality industry is going through a transformation. In response to workforce shortages, many employers have looked for---and found---ways to reduce staff by using automation. Despite this trend, there are continuing shortages of skilled workers from front line housekeepers to general managers. Hospitality leaders are looking for and finding innovative ways to find the talent. This article will give you an overview of what’s working for general managers and their human resource professionals to find the people they need to staff their properties. Read on...

Paul Feeney

A recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that close to 3 million people voluntarily quit their jobs a couple of years ago, a 17% increase from the previous year, proving that opportunities for employees are abundant and we have shifted back to a candidate-driven marketplace. Why is this important? Employee retention should always be of utmost importance, but requires awareness as to why employees leave to begin with. Numerous statistics show that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a disconnect or poor relationship with their boss or immediate supervisor or manager. This shows that turnover of staff is mostly a manager issue. Read on...

Coming Up In The April Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Guest Service: The Personalized Experience
In the not-too-distant future, when guests arrive at a hotel, they will check themselves in using a kiosk in the lobby, by- passing a stop at the front desk. When they call room service to order food, it will be from a hotel mobile tablet, practically eliminating any contact with friendly service people. Though these inevitable developments will likely result in delivered to their door by a robot. When they visit a restaurant, their orders will be placed and the bill will be paid some staff reduction, there is a silver lining – all the remaining hotel staff can be laser-focused on providing guests with the best possible service available. And for most guests, that means being the beneficiary of a personalized experience from the hotel. According to a recent Yahoo survey, 78 percent of hotel guests expressed a desire for some kind of personalization. They are seeking services that not only make them feel welcomed, but valued, and cause them to feel good about themselves. Hotels must strive to establish an emotional bond with their guests, the kind of bond that creates guest loyalty and brings them back time and again. But providing personalized service is more than knowing your guests by name. It’s leaving a bottle of wine in the room of a couple celebrating their anniversary, or knowing which guest enjoys having a fresh cup of coffee brought to their room as part of a wake-up call. It’s the small, thoughtful, personal gestures that matter most and produce the greatest effect. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.