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.

This week's Top Pick...

Zoe Connolly

The U.S. hotel industry has experienced 10 years of unprecedented growth. While not as strong as previous years, 2019 was still a healthy year. However, economists and experts agree it may be time to tighten our belts and prepare for a slowdown. Economic indicators that analysts commonly use to make predictions are mixed, making it difficult to predict the exact timing or the severity of a downturn. The Hospitality industry will be impacted as always by a slowing economy. Experienced Hospitality professionals know they can minimize economic disruption to a Hotel in difficult times by developing a foundation of reliable group business… Read on...

Library Archives

 
Hunter Clayton

When it comes to hospitality design experiences, we know that the best hotels support the business traveler, the leisure traveler, and the growing blur between them. The business traveler, specifically, is the most active and engaged guest when it comes to hotel amenities and usage. This is largely due to the fact that they are often spending the bulk of their time in hotel meeting spaces, business centers and conference rooms. So what can be done to make these typically enclosed spaces a source of task, social, entertainment, discovery and aspiration? The answer is likely beyond the walls. READ MORE

Mary Alice Palmer

As global discussions around climate change become more prevalent, so do conversations around human connection to nature. Incorporating nature and its elements by way of biophilic design is occurring everywhere – throughout our cities, workplaces, hospitals, academic institution and more. Exploring where the hospitality industry fits into these discussions is not only timely, but extremely relevant for hotel operators. Through their decades of industry knowledge and research, HKS Principals Mary Alice Palmer and Sergio Saenz, will discuss how biophilia can influence the psychographics of the guest, transform their hotel experience and guide them to making better decisions for the natural environment. READ MORE

Christine Samsel

Navigating through Paid Time Off (PTO) benefits for multi-jurisdictional employers can be challenging. Christine Samsel of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck provides a summary of several key issues to consider, from combining different types of PTO into a single category to different states' handling of PTO as a vested wage entitlement or a contract matter between employers and employees, and the impact that has on PTO policies. She also dissects the interplay of PTO and paid sick leave laws, and outlines some of the pitfalls of a recent trend - unlimited PTO policies. READ MORE

Robert Lannan

Some of the worst news a hotel owner can receive is that guestrooms or other facilities within the hotel are noticeably contaminated by excessive mold growth. This article, written by an industrial hygienist and an attorney, explores the physical dangers and legal liability caused by excessive mold growth in hotels, means of preventing this problem, and steps hotel owners and operators should take to minimize damage and liability upon discovery of excessive mold growth. READ MORE

Gregory A. Hearing

The U.S. unemployment rate is at a near record low yet the hospitality industry is facing a massive labor shortage. There are many incentives which hospitality industry employers can offer their employees to maintain their current workforce but taking a lax approach to employee discipline should not be one of them. Engaging in disparate disciplinary treatment likely will result in the filing of employment lawsuits or labor grievances which otherwise may have been avoidable. Lodging industry professionals should ensure that their management team consistently administers disciplinary policies and procedures in an evenhanded manner and provide training which identifies and explains the consequences of disparate discipline. READ MORE

Isaac-Daniel Astrachan

Modular construction is a hot topic in the construction industry and in particular for hospitality projects. Hotels, given their often-repetitive nature, are ideal for modular construction. The citizenM New York Bowery Hotel which opened a few months ago is a prime example. This new 19-story, 100,000 square foot building is located at 189 Bowery, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It consists of 300 guestrooms, double height lobby and lounge, as well as a rooftop lounge and outdoor deck with spectacular views of the city. The hotel won the 2019 World of Modular's First Place Award of Distinction and is the tallest modular hotel in the world. READ MORE

Nicole Adair

Artificial intelligence and its role in the practice of hotel revenue management is front and center in the minds of most industry professionals today. Is my hotel using it? Should my hotel be using it? How would my hotel use it and what would this mean for my role? In this article, we will discuss how hotel technology is evolving, how any revenue manager looking for continued growth in the field should approach these changes, and why the best revenue management strategy will combine artificial intelligence with human intelligence. READ MORE

Cassie Bond

What do these new and still-evolving revenue management strategies look like? How is this profit-focused mindset influencing both the day-to-day details and the big-picture thinking of revenue management professionals? Cassie Bond, Regional Vice President of Revenue Management for Chesapeake Hospitality discusses the emerging practice of revenue management and the emphasis on profit over revenue that is leading to sophisticated revenue management strategies, intriguing perspectives, and exciting possibilities in the hospitality industry. She outlines how successful hotels are utilizing the information and enhanced techniques of margin prophets, not just today, but in the months and years ahead. READ MORE

Matt Kavanagh

During the height of the "green design" craze, hotel RFPs fairly regularly required their buildings to receive some level of L.E.E.D. accreditation. As the general public became increasingly aware of the climate changes happening around them and their own carbon footprint, they started to consider how their own actions contributed to the environment they inhabited. Hotel owners quickly tried to capitalize on the growing market segment. New hotel brands, such as Element, were created specifically for the environmentally-conscious guest. After approximately 10 years or so, it seems like a reasonable time to step back and ask the question, was all the hype for "green design" worth it? READ MORE

Banks Brown

The push and pull of music licensing in the hotel industry has always been somewhat emotional. Because it is a devilish task to determine the value of music to the industry, it is easy for the hotels to conclude they pay too much and easy for the licensing companies to conclude that they, and the artists they represent, are entitled to more. Over the years, the hotel industry and the music industry have gradually gotten accustomed to each other and some of the companies in the industries involved have truly understood how they can help each other. This article is an attempt to explain what is going on. READ MORE

Stacy Kula

The obscure maze of alcohol licensing becomes even more confusing as the hotelier encounters different state laws. Because states are vested with the authority to create their own alcohol laws, there is often no uniformity in laws from state to state. As hoteliers build their portfolio in new territories, it can be difficult to remember what law applies. This article does not teach the laws of any state, rather it identifies the legal issues that hoteliers face when making application for an alcohol license in the various states. It is these questions that create the foundation of understanding of the specific state alcohol regimes for the hotelier. READ MORE

Robert Post

From where we sit in the hospitality space, we are seeing the industry suffer from an over-reliance on inbound as the primary source of group business. This dependence is leading us to a commoditization within group, where rates are becoming the only differentiator between properties. But what if we could change that? What if there was another source of business that would allow hotels to reclaim their control of group sales, allow them to build stronger repeat business and ultimately a more profitable property? In this article we will explore why hotels are struggling today to meet group targets and propose alternative ways to sell group that are more profitable. READ MORE

Greg Pesik

The management of groups, especially small groups and meetings, is at an inflection point in the industry. The industry has long relied on antiquated methods, such as room lists, as a core component of that management process. However, room lists are just symptomatic of a non-guest, non-planner centric approach to the process. The industry is not only poised for change, but must change to meet the demands of the digital age. READ MORE

Felicia Hyde

From self-driving cars to wearables and virtual reality, technology is infused into our everyday lives. Not only has it made our lives easier, but it has significantly shifted consumers' desire to an expectation for technological integration. Whether it's at the office, in an apartment community or their next hotel stay, consumers want the convenience and connection modern technology provides. This concept is already reshaping residential and multifamily communities nationwide and developers are integrating automations into their properties and design process that hoteliers may want to apply in order to curate a seamless and memorable guest experience. READ MORE

Nicholas Tsabourakis

While it is undeniable that there is a tremendous amount of data generated throughout the guest journey, for the vast majority of Hoteliers data analytics still remains an unexplored and overlooked domain. Most of the time they will find themselves trying to find the right balance between improving guest satisfaction and increasing profits. With both competition and customer requirements growing, they would generally rather focus on guest satisfaction than crunching numbers and data. The aim of this article is not to provide a review of current data analytics and technologies associated with them, but it rather focuses on what data & data analytics is all about, what makes incorporating them so important. READ MORE

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Coming up in January 2020...

Mobile Technology: Meeting Tech Expectations

What once seemed futuristic is now the norm, owing to the escalating developments in mobile technology, and hotels must continue to innovate in order to meet guest expectations. In a recent study from Mower, 65 percent of guests said they would gladly pay more for a hotel that provides the mobile technology they deem essential. The same study shows that 44 percent of travelers are more likely to book a smart hotel, and nearly 7 in 10 want to use smart devices provided by the hotel. And how do guests wish to use all this technology? A majority expressed a desire for mobile check-in and check-out, and mobile payment options. They also want to be able to stream content from their phone to the TV; to make service requests of the hotel staff; to control in-room lighting, temperature and sound; to order food and beverages; and to request a wake-up call - all from their mobile device. Guests also expressed preferences for robust wi-fi and convenient device charging ports throughout the hotel. They also appreciate the use of hotel branded apps which allow a guest to book a room, access loyalty programs, receive discounts and rewards, and even use the app to choose the room, floor and view they prefer. Some hotel apps also allow a customer to track their charges throughout their stay, rather than waiting to receive a bill at the end. Finally, mobile tech lounges are popping up more frequently in some hotels. These lounges offer guests the opportunity to perform tasks like airline check-ins or access to local info guides, but they also provide a place where guests can comfortably get some work done outside their room. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to meet their customers' expectations in the mobile technology space.