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Marc Stephen Shuster

The scope of gaming's impact on the hotel industry depends upon whom you ask. If you're a mom and pop independent, a small franchisee, or you operate Disney (or another company where gaming can have a negative impact on your bottom line), you would most likely conclude that casinos are threats and/or competitors. That potentially includes competition for clientele, direct revenue, and indirect revenue. As you'll read in our expert panelists' comments, for example, lost convention revenue is a significant piece of this equation. Read on...

Matthew Grosack

Given the current state of the economy and the need for both hotel franchisors and franchisee owners to protect their respective interests and maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, one of the most active areas in hospitality industry today is the enforcement of restrictive covenants. A restrictive covenant is a contractual provision entered into between contracting parties that prevents one or both parties from engaging in certain conduct during and after the business relationship Read on...

Matthew Simpson

Nearly every employer has enforced written policies regulating conduct at the workplace. However, few have taken the time to think about effective and lawful policies that regulate employee behavior after hours and outside the workplace. Today, in the age of social media and smartphones, employees have much greater visibility when they leave work, resulting in increased exposure and potential for harm to an employer's reputation. So, can employers monitor or discipline employees for policy violations that occur when an employee is off-duty and off-premises? Read on...

Lonnie Giamela

Employers in hospitality have the difficult task of balancing public perception and guest expectations with their many legal obligations. Developments in technology often complicate those responsibilities. Online bookings have created new ADA obligations. Social networking has blurred the lines between an employee's workplace conduct and private conduct. Now, the e-cigarette has become a focal point of the public discussion raising important questions for hospitality employers. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

The prevalence of workplace violence poses alarming concerns. Consider the statistics: OSHA reports nearly 2 million workers annually claim they are victims of workplace violence, with homicides as the fourth-leading cause of workplace fatalities and the leading cause of death for women in the workplace; Justice Department statistics show non-fatal incidents are even far more prevalent with approximately 1.7 million workplace violence incidents between 1993-1999; and in a 2012 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 36% of the entities responding experienced incidents of workplace violence. The good news is there are measures to curb these risks. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster

Given the strength of the hospitality sector today, many hotel owners and developers are starting to see the value of their assets start to increase. Just as values are beginning to appreciate, however, numerous developers, who previously financed their projects through Commercial Mortgage-Backed Security ("CMBS") loans will likely be facing a significant dilemma as those loans mature over the coming years. The pundits say that we will see a wave of CMBS loan maturities in the next 2 to 5 years. With many of these loans having been originated prior to the real-estate bubble bursting, however, many will not qualify for refinancing due to the decline in the value of the collateral securing the loan. The authors discuss this impending dilemma, and the options that should be considered by borrowers that find themselves unable to refinance. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

The decision whether or not to conduct background checks on prospective employees presents liability issues for establishments. Failure to conduct background checks for employees who have frequent contact with the public poses potential liability for negligent hiring. However, use of background checks to screen applicants for employment may also pose a risk for potential charges of discrimination and unlawful employment practices. Additionally, establishments must comply with federal and state laws when conducting background checks. This article will discuss these issues and provide best practices for establishments in determining when to use background checks and policies for conducting them. Read on...

Julian Gurule

When a hotel enters financial distress, the prospect that the owner may become personally liable for the property's debts is often a source of substantial concern. This article addresses one potential source of exposure for a hotel's owner: nonrecourse carve-out guaranties, often referred to as "bad boy guaranties." In some circumstances, a nonrecourse carve-out guaranty can result in liability for the hotel's owner up to the full amount of the hotel's debt. Read on...

Michael Elkon

Restrictive covenant agreements can be a powerful tool for a company that wants to protect its most valuable information and relationships. However, there are major state law variations that impact what an employer can do with these contracts. Additionally, an employer needs to take a hard look at both the interests that it is trying to protect and the employees who will be signing the agreements before rolling them out. If answered honestly and accurately, a simple question should guide the process: What can this employee do to harm my business if he/she chooses to join a competitor? Read on...

Jim Butler

A lot of exciting things are happening in the hospitality industry as 2014 opens. Based upon more than $68 billion of hotel transactions, JMBM's Global Hospitality Group® has made its "top 10" pick of the events, issues, trends, and developments that will have the biggest impact on the hotel industry. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster

For the past decade, it seems like whenever there is a glaring need (or desire) in a particular city, some establishment "pops up" to temporarily meet that need. We've seen Pop-Up Restaurants, Pop-Up Hair Salons, Food Trucks, and Pop-Up Retail. The next stage in this evolution, which meets the need of hotel scarcity during big events like the Olympics or Summerfest, is the Pop-Up Hotel. Pop-Up Hotels are temporary lodging establishments, that can include virtually all the components of a hotel room, including beds, furniture, showers, toilets, electricity, and WiFi, that open and operate for a finite period of time which dovetails with a given event. In this article, we look at the growing trend of mobile lodging, and the civic and legal challenges to this evolving hospitality movement - one that very few municipal governments and competitors had ever anticipated. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the percentage of workers who are union members dipped to 11.3%, the lowest in 97 years. The private sector percentage dipped to 6.6%, the lowest level since the 1950s, with the hospitality accommodation industry at 7.5%. For those establishments interpreting these statistics to mean that they do not have to be concerned about unions, think again. Union organizers and leaders are not giving in to the decline in membership and are confronting the challenge urging their members to think big. Establishments should be prepared to respond to union organizing. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster

You would be hard-pressed to attend an international hospitality conference these days without a panel or two exploring the $64,000 question: "Where are the deals?" Despite Miami's position as the second-hottest hotel market in the U.S., the suggestion of continued investment in Miami -- and the rest of the South Florida hospitality market - is met with a surprising number of critics. In this article, you'll learn why the notion of a temporary bubble is misguided, and you'll hear directly from marketplace insiders who believe Miami's hospitality space is positioned for a multi-year run of escalating prices and robust investment returns. Read on...

Arthur Spaulding, Jr.

One issue that has long tormented developers of condominium hotels and fractional interest programs is whether or not the availability of a rental management program to buyers of condominium units or fractional interests transforms a real estate deal into a security. The recent Ninth Circuit Court case, Salameh v. Tarsadia Hotels, sheds useful light on that question, concluding that no security was present where the rental management contracts were signed by buyers of condominium hotel units anywhere from 8 to 15 months after the sales agreements were executed and there was no allegation of co-promotion of the two programs. Read on...

Andria Ryan

The last few years have brought an explosion in the number of private lawsuits against employers for wage and hour violations and increased scrutiny by the federal Department of Labor and various other state enforcement agencies. The hospitality industry is not immune from these challenges. In fact, the Wage and Hour Division considers hospitality workers and other low-wage workers to be particularly vulnerable. Over the past year, the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division has targeted hospitality employers across the country. Investigators often arrive unannounced and demand immediate access to payroll records and employees for interviews to determine whether employees are properly classified and properly paid. Read on...

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.