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Meet the Money® 2014

ADA defense and compliance

EB-5 financing

Workouts, bankruptcies & receiverships

Hotel Management Agreements

Hotel Franchise & License Agreements

Hotel industry trends

This is Jim Butler, author of www.HotelLawBlog.com and hotel lawyer. Please contact me at Jim Butler at jbutler@jmbm.com or 310.201.3526.

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Jonathan Falik, CEO of JF Capital Advisors, speaks with David Sudeck, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® at JMBM’s 2016 Meet the Money® – the national hotel finance and investment conference. They discuss the current hotel market, the availability of capital, and what lenders and capital providers are looking for.

A transcript follows the video. See other videos in this series on the Jeffer Mangels YouTube channel.

David Sudeck: We’re at the 26th Annual Meet the Money Conference. I’m here with Jonathan Falik, CEO and Founder of JF Capital Advisors. Welcome.

Jonathan Falik: Thank you for having me.

David Sudeck: You’ve been a mainstay at Meet the Money® – we appreciate that, by the way.

Jonathan Falik: Well, it’s one of my favorite conferences.

David Sudeck: What’s the temperament like in terms of the marketplace?

Jonathan Falik: People are cautious. Most seem optimistic, but are cautious and are in a learning mode. Everyone’s trying to figure out who’s saying what and who’s thinking what – which is interesting because normally people in our industry think they know everything.

David Sudeck: What are you seeing in the marketplace in general? Let’s talk about the cycle. CONTINUE READING →

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Patrick Hogan, CEO of CMB Regional Centers, speaks with David Sudeck, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® at JMBM’s 2016 Meet the Money® – the national hotel finance and investment conference. They discuss the evolution of the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa Program, indirect jobs, completion guarantees, and taking care of the investor.

A transcript follows the video. See other videos in this series on the Jeffer Mangels YouTube channel.

David Sudeck: Hi, I’m David Sudeck, I’m here at the 26th annual Meet the Money® Conference with Pat Hogan, CEO of CMB Regional Centers. Welcome Pat. And thanks again for participating this year. You were on stage earlier on the CEO panel and you did a fantastic job.

Patrick Hogan: Well thank you, I’m pretty excited to be here. It’s an interesting group of people.

David Sudeck: EB-5 is hot right now. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the roots of CMB, how things have changed from the 1990s to today, and what you see as your current platform.

Patrick Hogan: We started in 1994, before regional centers were ever involved.

The EB-5 program is actually a permanent program. Most people don’t know that because everybody does business with the regional center. But I started in 1997, getting my first regional center, and we actually got an approval in the year 2000. But as you know, fraud crept into that particular program and I just couldn’t take it anymore. It wasn’t really a business at that point in time. So I just said, “Okay, I quit, and until Congress can put some reforms through, I don’t want to do it anymore.”

David Sudeck: So you were pushing for regulation?

Patrick Hogan: Yes, even back then. So, fast forward to today – and we’ve been rocked with all kinds of scandals and things like that within EB-5 – which you would expect. Because if you go back to 2007 there were eleven regional centers, and maybe five of us doing something. And then to go to today where you have 800 regional centers – there’s bound to be some individuals that don’t have a clue.

David Sudeck: Do you have any sense as to how many of those 800 actually do business of any kind? CONTINUE READING →

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17 July 2016

New York EB-5 Investment Immigration Convention

More than 700 people are gathering the next two days in New York City for one of the largest EB-5 financing conferences in the country. We are proud to be a platinum sponsor of this program, and I am looking forward to my panel on how to finance hotel construction and development with EB-5.

Hosted by EB-5 Investors Magazine, this event will be held July 17-18, 2016 at the Sheraton Hotel in Times Square. The first day is comprised of three tracks of workshops and Monday is a full day of panels on EB-5 topics of current interest.

Dr. Arthur B. Laffer of Laffer Associates, and Mr. Charles Qi of the Beijing Entry and Exit Immigration Service Association will deliver keynote speeches, and attendees will benefit from timely legislative analysis on the EB-5 Regional Center Program extension. CONTINUE READING →

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13 June 2016

To maintain the confidentiality of hotel data, STR imposes certain restrictions on the hotels for which it will provide competitive set data. The Marriott-Starwood merger is shaking up the world of competitive sets with the result that many owners will need to revise the competitive sets specified in their hotel management agreements.

As Bob Braun explains in the article below, considering the need to identify appropriate hotels for new competitive sets, and negotiation of amendments to hotel management agreements, it would probably be wise to start now on this process.

 

STR Adopts New Competitive Set Guidelines – Impact on Owners

by
Bob Braun, Hotel Lawyer and Data Security Advisor

The importance of the competitive set

Many hotel management agreements contain performance test standards allowing an owner to terminate a management agreement if the hotel fails to meet specified guidelines, and most of those tests incorporate a “RevPAR Test” – whether the hotel’s revenue per available room is comparable with a set of competitive hotels, its “competitive set.” The RevPAR test typically allows an owner to terminate a management agreement if the hotel’s RevPAR fails to meet a specified percentage, or index, of the competitive set’s RevPAR. Competitive sets can also be used to determine incentive pay or for other measures of performance, as well as projections of potential performance.

The competitive set data is typically provided by a single source: STR, Inc. STR has established itself as a unique provider of supply, demand, and overall performance data for the hotel industry by collecting financial performance and other information from a vast number of hotels in the United States, and using that information to create anonymized measures of performance.

The STR competitive set allows parties to select a known group of comparable hotels and measure performance against that set without seeing their actual financial data. Spurred on by changes in the hotel brands –the Marriott – Starwood merger is the most recent and highest-profile example — STR announced that, effective January 1, 2017, it will impose a new set of guidelines for determining eligibility of competitive sets.

STR’s new guidelines

The new guidelines contain the following key elements:

  • No single property and no single brand can comprise more than 50 percent of the total room count, excluding the subject property and other properties from the same company as the subject.
  • No single company can account for more than 70 percent of the total participating room supply of a competitive set, excluding the rooms of the subject property and other properties from the same company as the subject.
  • Sets must include a total of four properties, excluding the subject, and a minimum of two companies, excluding the subject.

CONTINUE READING →

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13 May 2016

Hotel industry fundamentals are good, and will continue to improve. But the hotel industry is being punished by the disconnect between the investment community of Wall Street and actual performance of the hotels on Main Street. More on the nature of this disconnect shortly, but first, here is the current situation as summarized by Vail Brown of STR last week at the 26th annual Los Angeles hotel investment conference, Meet the Money®.

Total United States Key Performance Indicator Outlook (% Change vs. Prior Year) 2016 – 2017

Note that the actual results for 2015 and the forecast for 2016 and 2017 are pretty good – not as spectacular as they have been in some recent past years, but very sound in terms of long-term trends. Notice also that the average national supply growth is still below the 2% level that raises concerns for oversupply. Demand growth is continuing at a rate greater than supply growth, and that is healthy. While occupancy growth is modest, strong ADR growth is driving RevPAR growth at good levels.

Looking beyond the averages into specific markets

National average statistics are most informative when variations from the median are relatively small. Also, averages can be misleading when there are statistical outliers or even significant variations. That seems to be the case currently, with markets like New York City and Houston struggling, and significant localized damage in oil patch markets.

This problem is illustrated by this slide from Vail Brown’s presentation at Meet the Money®. Note that the declining RevPAR growth in New York City and Houston dragged down the entire industry averages. Many industry leaders believe that New York’s problems have also overly influenced the financial community’s perspective on the hospitality industry, incorrectly assuming that industry performance in New York City is representative of the entire industry. CONTINUE READING →

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10 May 2016

One of the great breakout sessions at our recent Meet the Money® hotel conference in Los Angeles was organized by my partner Bob Braun and moderated by Jeff Higley of HotelNewsNow. I was particularly impressed by the panel’s evidence of how costly cybersecurity breaches can be, how much can be done to prevent or limit exposure, and how reasonable the cost can be for a pro-active approach.

Here is Bob Braun’s summary of this panel last week in Los Angeles. This is a compelling call for an ounce of prevention. . .

 

5 Cybersecurity takeaways from Meet the Money®
by
Bob Braun, Hotel Lawyer and Data Security Advisor

Meet the Money® changes with the times, and the 2016 conference showcased the first panel on Cybersecurity in the hospitality industry – “Who’s Knocking at Your Digital Door,” featuring Bob Braun, from JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Group; Bob Justus, of Optiv Security; Brad Maryman, from Maryman & Associates; Christian Ryan, from MARSH; and Kevin Shamoun, from Zeamster.  Jeff Higley, of STR/HotelNewsNow.com moderated the panel.

The panelists, representing technical, legal law, law enforcement, insurance and payment systems, identified key cybersecurity challenges for the hospitality industry.  Five key takeaways were:

  • Compliance does not equal security. Each of the panelists agreed that while meeting legal and business requirements is essential, compliance does not necessarily achieve real cybersecurity — completing checkboxes on a task list or questionnaire is only a first step. The panelists noted that each of the major hotel breaches in the last year, which involved every major hotel chain, implicated point of service credit card systems that complied with industry standards.  Hotels and hotel companies need to look beyond complying with standardized requirements and has to evaluate their own risk profile and apply meaningful security plans.
  • Informed response is better than instant response. Too many organizations make the mistake of reacting before they think, especially when reporting a breach. Data breaches can be complicated matters, and it is essential to understand the scope of the breach, the data and individuals involved, and how a firm can remediate the source of the problem before disclosure. There is no question that speed is important, but some breaches do not require notification, while acting without ascertaining the facts can require multiple notifications, which is damaging to reputation and sends the wrong message.
  • Credit cards are not the only risk. While much focus is placed on the theft of credit card numbers, hotels must consider other risks. Hotels and hotel companies hold massive amounts of sensitive personal information that can be used to steal a guest’s identity.  Moreover, hotels need to consider more than data; the interconnection of systems means that breaking into a financial structure can give a hacker access to door locks, heating and air conditioning systems, electrical, plumbing and other key structural and physical parts of the hotel.  What would happen if a hacker flooded a hotel, or opened the doors?  This damage can far exceed the damage from lost credit cards, and cause untold damage to the hotel, its brand and owners.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

07 May 2016

Meet the Money® 2016 – Deals, dialog and learning
Conference presentations now available

JMBM’s Meet the Money® 2016, completed its 26th national hotel finance and investment conference this week in Los Angeles.

While all seem to agree that hotel fundamentals remain strong and that interest rates will remain low in the immediate future, hotel industry leaders expressed more caution than in recent years. They are still doing deals – particularly those that fit into established strategies. In fact, there are a number of creative deals going on, of all sizes, and it is always exciting to hear from so many developers and capital providers who are enthusiastic about their work and the industry.

Many expressed a healthy respect for stricter underwriting and shared the lessons learned from the Great Recession. All our speakers and participants exchanged perspectives, ideas, business cards and lots of good stories.

Presentations available from Vail Brown of STR, Suzanne Mellen of HVS, Mike Cahill of LIIC and HREC, Dan Lesser of LW Hospitality Advisors, Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality, and Bill Linehan of RLHC

Select presentations from Meet the Money® 2016 can be found on HotelLawyer.com. Individual presentations include: CONTINUE READING →

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To download the LIIC Top Ten presentation, click here.

(Denver, CO) For well over a decade, the members of the hotel industry’s preeminent think tank, “LIIC – The Lodging Industry Investment Council,” are annually surveyed to develop a list of the major hotel investment opportunities and challenges for the coming year. This exhaustive survey results in the LIIC Top Ten; a highly regarded profile of investment sentiment and attitudes for the lodging industry for the forthcoming 12 months. Altogether, the members of LIIC represent direct acquisition and disposition control of well over $40 billion of lodging real estate.

Members are highly active and have the pulse of the market, with 57% of LIIC hotel investors having successfully purchased a hotel in the last 12 months and 38% currently having additional acquisitions under a purchase and sale contract.

The hospitality industry’s most influential investors, lenders, corporate real estate executives, REIT’s, public hotel companies, brokers and significant lodging equity sources are represented on the Council. LIIC serves as the leading industry think tank for the lodging business (www.liic.org).

Mike Cahill, LIIC co-chairman, produced this year’s survey (www.mikecahill.com). Mr. Cahill is CEO and Founder of HREC – Hospitality Real Estate Counselors, a leading international hotel and casino advisory and brokerage firm (15 offices nationwide) specializing in lodging property sales, debt financing, consulting, appraisals and litigation support (www.hrec.com). Kyle Halbrook & Nate Shartar, Associates in HREC’s Denver office, assisted throughout the process.

2016 Top Ten LIIC Survey Results:

1. Hotel Investors: Active yet Cautious in Underwriting and Pricing: In a striking reversal from 2015’s unbridled optimism, the 2016 results reveal that investors are now underwriting more carefully and pricing an uncertain future into their acquisition bids. However, market participants, as a whole, remain positive and active.

2. Movement in the Hotel Real Estate Cycle?: After the past two years, when investors believed we were “real estate cycle stagnant” and solidly grounded in the 5th to 6th innings of the current lodging investment cycle, the 2016 survey is sensing strong movement. Today, 68% believe we have moved along to the 7th/8th innings and 17% go further, believing we are in the 9th inning. Similarly, 42% believe hotel real estate values peaked in 2015 and 28% believe values are currently peaking in 2016. When asked the same concept but worded differently, the current survey indicated 2006 (34%) was the most similar year in past cycle, with 2007 following closely behind at 28%. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

1 May 2016

Federal Judge Takes Decisive Action to Protect Hotels from ADA Abuse by a High Frequency Litigant
by
Martin H. Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense Group

In a rare and decisive action, a Central District Court Judge dismissed an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit filed by an Arizona disabled plaintiff who has recently filed a wave of over 70 ADA lawsuits against Southern California hotels.

The plaintiff, who claims she is confined to a wheelchair, called an Orange County hotel to book a room.  She asked the hotel representative whether the hotel pool and Jacuzzi had a pool lift or other means of access for disabled persons.  The hotel employee allegedly reported that the hotel had no pool lifts.  Thereafter, allegedly, plaintiff’s “agent,” and ADA investigator, visited the hotel, verified that there were no pool lifts, and notified the plaintiff of other ADA violations.  The plaintiff claimed that she regularly frequents the area where the hotel is located and plans to do so in the future.  If there was a pool lift, plaintiff claims, she would stay at the hotel in the future.

The plaintiff, Theresa Brooke, has filed over 70 ADA lawsuits against Southern California hotels in the past 6 weeks, “every single one of which” in boilerplate fashion alleges ADA violations based on inaccessible hotel pools and spas.  In dismissing the lawsuit, the Judge noted that the “deluge [of ADA lawsuits] is ongoing, noting plaintiff, it appears, would like to stay at every Orange County hotel that presently has an inaccessible Jacuzzi.”

Citing a recent opinion (Brooke v. Kalthia Group Hotels), the trial judge on his own motion dismissed the lawsuit finding that plaintiff had not stated a claim under the ADA because a plaintiff who had not visited the hotel cannot litigate a case against the hotel based solely on calling the hotel, seeing pictures and taking a call from her private investigator. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

27 April 2016

In Memoriam: William G. Sipple

All of us in the hospitality industry will miss the warm smile, good humor and practical insights of our colleague, Bill Sipple, who left us too soon. I am proud to have counted Bill as a good and long-time friend.

A seasoned hospitality executive, he was the consummate professional and all who worked with him in any capacity recognized the value of his leadership. It was always great working with Bill on any transaction, whichever side of the transaction he was on, but I always liked being on his side the best. His talents, focus, and energy made him one of the lights of our industry. He calmed rough waters, got deals done, and was just plain fun to spend time with.

Thanks for all you gave to our industry, Bill. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

The Sipple family suggests donations to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research in lieu of flowers.

Sipple 2

CONTINUE READING →