When Bad Things Happen In the Hospitality Industry

By Steven D. Weber Managing Partner, Stark Weber PLLC | April 01, 2018

Bad things happen in all industries.  In the hospitality industry, those bad things may include an alligator attacking one of your guests, a cyberattack, exposing critical guest related information, the theft of important confidential and trade secret information, and more.  Rather than waiting until those or other bad things happen, hospitality industry players should take steps to understand and develop a plan on how to effectively respond to protect its rights and mitigate the effects. 

Among other things, hospitality players should implement policies regarding the preservation of documents, have a team who can quickly and effectively respond to the events, and provide training to the response team, and other key personnel, on how to respond to events.  Finally, hospitality players should understand that taking swift legal action may be necessary to protect its rights.

Know Thy Policies

First and foremost, every hospital player should have policies in place for the preservation of documents, and every employee should receive a copy of the policies and acknowledge that they have received and read the policies.  The hospitality player should understand that federal and state laws may have differing requirements on how and when documents related to an event must be preserved, especially any documents that might be relevant to a lawsuit.  This duty to preserve documents may come into effect sooner than the party realizes and may extend to documents that the hospitality player knew or should have known that related or could have related to that event.

Given the prevalence of electronic documents systems, in addition to policies, it is crucial to have the person with knowledge of those systems take a lead role in working to have all such documents preserved as soon as an event occurs.  That role includes working with all other individuals who may have documents to preserve those documents.  Failure to preserve documents in accordance with the applicable law could have drastic consequences for a hospitality player     

In addition to legal requirements, the preservation of documents may assist in the player's response to the unfolding events.  Insuring that all documents, including, but not limited to, all electronic documents, are preserved after or during an event may protect a hospitality industry player by informing it what went wrong and laying the foundation for a recovery plan.

Where Is Your Response & Management Plan?

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.