Hotel Law: New Administration - New Policies

In a business as large as a hotel and in a field as broad as the law, there are innumerable legal issues which affect every area of a hotel's operation. For a hotel, the primary legal focus includes their restaurant, bar, meeting, convention and spa areas of their business, as well as employee relations. Hotels are also expected to protect their guests from criminal harm and to ensure the confidentiality of their personal identity information. These are a few of the daily legal matters hotels are concerned with, but on a national scale, there are also a number of pressing issues that the industry at large must address. For example, with a new presidential administration, there could be new policies on minimum wage and overtime rules, and a revised standard for determining joint employer status. There could also be legal issues surrounding new immigration policies like the H-2B guest-worker program (used by some hotels and resorts for seasonal staffing), as well as the uncertain legal status of some employees who fall under the DACA program. There are also major legal implications surrounding the online gaming industry. With the growing popularity of internet gambling and daily fantasy sports betting, more traditional resort casinos are also seeking the legal right to offer online gambling. Finally, the legal status of home-sharing companies like Airbnb continues to make news. Local jurisdictions are still trying to determine how to regulate the short-term apartment rental market, and the outcome will have consequences for the hotel industry. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine these and other critical issues pertaining to hotel law and how some companies are adapting to them.

Trending articles this week...

Elizabeth DeConti

Recently, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act ("PASPA"), finding that the federal legislation violated the anti-commandeering doctrine of the U.S. Constitution. Murphy v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Assn. et al. Previously PASPA had outlawed "sports betting" or gambling on the outcome of professional or collegiate athletic contests. As a result, states are now free to decide whether they wish to allow gambling on professional and collegiate sports inside their borders, or whether they wish to legislate guardrails or prohibitions around sports gambling. Allowing sports betting will have ramifications for any hospitality venue with a sports bar, lounge, or recreational facility. READ MORE

Michael Wildes

Immigration courts are not sufficiently independent tribunals because immigration judges work directly under the State Department, and serve at the pleasure of the Attorney General, as do the assistant chief counsels, or the "prosecutors" in immigration courts. Recently, the Attorney General has taken a more hands-on approach in overseeing immigration courts by imposing performance quotas on immigration judges, which impairs their judicial independence. One solution is to extract immigration courts from the ambit of the State Department and to establish a more independent, Article III immigration court in the same vein as bankruptcy and tax courts. READ MORE

Linda Pierce

Cyber fraud has been making headlines around the world for its destructive impact on businesses and consumers through data breaches, email phishing scams and ransomware attacks. Once a business has been compromised, the potential loss to business owners from cyber fraud is significant in terms of the actual loss sustained, potential lost or damaged business relationships, legal proceedings and adverse publicity. As hotel directors, managers and property owners examine effective strategies to combat cyber fraud, it is imperative they consult with their risk managers for a solution before a threat arises. READ MORE

William A. Brewer

For the last decade, home-sharing services have disrupted segments of the hotel industry, threatening to flip the script on market-supply. Airbnb and other online platforms are poised for further growth, particularly within the super-luxury segment. Their emergence has pitted global hotel chains against homeowners, as well as major metropolitan cities against multi-billion-dollar tech interests. An analysis of market and legal issues surrounding short-term home-sharing reveals its sound legal footing. The need for market-players to adapt to the continued presence of these services, as well as the important role of attorneys well-versed in this debate, is brought into focus. READ MORE

Library Archives

Stacy Kula

Hoteliers seeking alternative sources of funding can put their alcohol licenses at risk if they don't perform the proper due diligence on potential investors before those investors become owners. Every state has its own complex, and very different, statutory scheme that hoteliers need to navigate to ensure that the investor is eligible to be on the alcohol license. This article identifies some of the overarching issues that most states consider when there is a partial transfer of ownership - although the treatment of those issues may be addressed very differently be each state. READ MORE

Michael B. Newman

In the hotel industry, a key amenity at many properties is the service of alcohol beverages in the restaurant or bar. This necessitates some type of license issued by a state local alcohol beverage licensing authority. Many hotels in smaller cities, rural areas, or suburbs, however, share a common predicament of not getting a license for a bar or restaurant at their premises. This article explores options available to a hotel that elects not to serve alcohol beverages in a bar or restaurant. These options include the "mini bar," a self-service dispensing system, or a complimentary service. READ MORE

Jerome G. Grzeca

President Trump made immigration reform a central issue of his presidential campaign, promising to remove all undocumented immigrants from the United States and to build a physical wall along our southern border. While these large-scale plans have yet to be fully realized, the Trump Administration has begun to construct an "invisible wall" through several smaller immigration policy changes that have already had the effect of restricting and slowing legal immigration in our country. These changes have created new challenges for hospitality companies that rely on foreign workers to meet their staffing needs. READ MORE

Robert E. Braun

The hospitality industry has always been responsible for the safety of its guests. The industry is now grappling with its obligation to maintain a safe data environment. Hotel owners, brands and operators face significant challenges as bad actors become more sophisticated and as hotel systems become more complex. Recent legal developments in Europe and in America have created a new set of issues, requiring hotel companies to reevaluate how they collect process and protect information. The hospitality industry must, therefore, reconsider its approach to data security and privacy. READ MORE

Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.