Hotel Legal Environment: Preparation Prevention, Service
By Robert O'Halloran Professor & Director, Hospitality Management, East Carolina University | December 2023
In any hotel setting, there is an incredible amount of activity.
Hotels are large business machines with lots of moving parts, so keeping an eye on every aspect is nearly impossible, including physical crimes that can take place onsite.
The operations of hotels can differ based on levels of service, brand, size and more.
Also, when considering the legal aspects of a lodging property, consideration of the type of property is important. STR Global for example, defines all-inclusive, all-suite, bed & breakfast (b&b) inn, boutique, condo, conference center, convention center, destination resort, extended stay, full-service hotel, gaming/casino, golf, hotel/motel, limited service, lifestyle brand, new build, ski: property, soft brand, spa, timeshare, and waterparks. Each type of hotel has a unique set of characteristics that can influence its legal status and potential issues common to hotel properties.
Additionally, assess your hotel comparing branded or independent? In a branded hotel, franchise concepts and policies are key to hotel law. An independent has no franchise entanglements but may be operating with a management company. Additionally, your geographic region, state, county, or town may influence your legal framework dealing with local laws and regulations.
The moving parts of a hotel include check-ins, check-outs, food, and beverage operations if any, guest interactions, housekeeping, staffing, marketing, reservations, and more. Hotel and hospitality law in general can encompass a vast number of scenarios and circumstances. The people-intensive nature of hotels needs to align with both employees and guests, and therefore enhances the care with which the guest and employee experiences are coordinated and managed. It has been noted that a hotel is a place where people sleep, eat, and try to relax, but these a services are provided by the hotel and its staff. This means that the hotel is on the hook for any liabilities that may arise. From food poisoning to slips and falls to hotel theft, their liabilities are everywhere.