Editorial Board   

Mr. LaTour

Tom LaTour

Principal, LaTour Signature Group

Tom LaTour is one of the founding partners of LaTour Signature Group, a joint-venture business with ResortCom Elite that provides superior management services to small, luxury fractional ownership properties throughout North America. As the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, he is applying his more than 40 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry to this booming new vacation real estate market. A graduate of Michigan State University, Mr. LaTour started his illustrious career working for American Airlines as general manager for the Sky Chef division. He joined Amfac Hotels in 1973, and for 10 years helped operate the diversified hotel and restaurant chain's 17 nationwide properties. In 1983, Mr. LaTour joined founder Bill Kimpton in the ambitious endeavor of pioneering the then new hospitality niche of boutique hotels. Throughout his nearly quarter century with the company, he saw the exclusive Kimpton brand expand to include 40 boutique hotels and restaurants throughout 17 cities in the United States and Canada. The Kimpton brand stood out for its commitment to helping guests maintain and enrich their lifestyles on the road. Each property reflected the energy, personality and pulse of its distinct location, history and architectural style. Kimpton, under Mr. LaTour 's direction, provided highly personalized guest services and welcomed travelers with an atmosphere that embraced its signature elements of care, comfort, style, flavor and fun. Mr. LaTour retired in 2006 after a 23-year career at Kimpton, during which his dedication and visionary leadership established it as the leader in the boutique/lifestyle hotel segment as well as creating strategic alliances with global issues and eco-friendly efforts such as AIDs research and Trust for Public Land. In early 2007, Mr. LaTour joined long-time friend and business associate John E. Small, along with ResortCom International's President Jeff Healy, to form San Diego-based LaTour Signature Group. According to Small, "Tom LaTour has the incredible vision and extraordinary business acumen necessary to lead the explosive growth in this niche market by providing the ultimate luxury brand for smaller fractional properties." In addition to heading this new business venture, Mr. LaTour remains on the board of directors for Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group and also serves on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, including the Hoffman Institute and the REDF "Investing in Employment Hope." He is a trustee of the San Francisco Maritime Park Association and serves on the San Francisco Planning and Urban Development Association advisory Board. In addition, he is founding board member of the Union Square Business Improvement District, past chair of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, and is on the advisory board for California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Along with his wife, Barbara, he owns and operates the 25-acre LaTour Vineyards in Napa Valley where they produce barrel-fermented Chardonnay, Pinot and Syrah wines.

Mr. LaTour can be contacted at 415-568-2210 or tlatour@latoursignaturegroup.com

Coming up in December 2019...

Hotel Law: A Labor Crisis and Cyber Security

According to a recent study, the hospitality industry accounted for 2.9 trillion dollars in sales and in the U.S. alone, was responsible for 1 in 9 jobs. In an industry of that scope and dimension, legal issues touch every aspect of a hotel's operation, and legal services are required in order to conform to all prevailing laws and regulations. Though not all hotels face the same issues, there are some industry-wide subjects that are of concern more broadly. One of those matters is the issue of immigration and how it affects the ability of hotels to recruit qualified employees. The hotel industry is currently facing a labor crisis; the U.S. Labor Department estimates that there are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the industry. Part of the problem contributing to this labor shortage is the lack of H2B visas for low-skilled workers, combined with the difficulty in obtaining J-1 visas for temporary workers. Because comprehensive immigration reform is not being addressed politically, hotel managers expect things are going to get worse before they get better. Corporate cyber security is another major legal issue the industry must address. Hotels are under enormous pressure in this area given the large volume of customer financial transactions they handle daily. Recently, a federal court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had the power to regulate corporate cyber security, so it is incumbent on hotels to establish data security programs in order to prevent data breaches. The lack of such programs could cause hotels to face legal threats from government agencies, class action lawsuits, and damage to their brand image if a data breach should occur. These are just two of the critical issues that the December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.