Hospitality Law
Rob Elvin
  • Hospitality Law
  • Health and Safety in the UK Hotel Industry
  • There have been a significant number of cases reported in the press recently in relation to hotels that are being prosecuted for health and safety breaches. The increased visibility of such cases highlights a need for stronger emphasis on compliance within the industry. This article aims to increase awareness of health and safety issues amongst hoteliers by examining key health and safety obligations in relations to hotels; considering the legal, reputational and financial impact of failures to comply with health and safety duties; and providing some practical examples of how to ensure compliance with legal obligations. Read on...

Robert E. Braun
  • Hospitality Law
  • Not Just Heads In Beds – Cybersecurity for Hotel Owners
  • The basics of the hotel business have traditionally been simple: good location, fair prices, appropriate amenities and good service were the keys to success. While those factors are important today, hotels are no longer simply a “heads in beds” business; hotels are increasingly brand-oriented. Brands focus not only on the services and products they sell, but on developing the perception and recognition of the brand associated with those goods and services. That means that hotels, like all brands, need to focus more and more on understanding their customers and how to reach them, whether through loyalty programs, advertising, social media or otherwise. Read on...

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...

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.