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Hotel Lawyer in Los Angeles: ALIS – What’s the commotion all about? Closing the conference hotel to outsiders.

19 January 2012

Hotel lawyer in Los Angeles, looking at a new first in the hotel conference industry. The Americas Lodging Investment Summit or ALIS runs next week from Monday through Wednesday, January 23-25, 2012, at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles. ALIS is one of the major annual hotel investment conferences and gets some of the best attendance in the industry. In 2012, it returns to Los Angeles after several years of being held in San Diego. It is always a great way to get a handle on what’s happening in the hotel industry at the beginning of the year, and many of us look forward to it as a regular annual event.

However, this year, the conference is creating something of a stir with what seems to be an industry first. For several weeks, rumors have abounded that the conference promoter, BHN, has “bought out” all of the public space at the JW Marriott. The practical impact of this is that only people with ALIS Conference badges will be permitted in any of the public spaces at the conference hotel.

Today, I received an e-mail sent to all registered ALIS delegates. It confirmed the rumors. Among other things, this e-mail from the “Alice Registration Team” said the following:

Security will be tight at both the JW Marriott Hotel and Nokia Theatre. ALIS has secured all public areas at the JW Marriott Hotel beginning Monday, January 23. In order to access both venues, only registered ALIS delegates with ALIS name badge and picture ID will be granted admittance.

“Lobby Lizards” will NOT be admitted to the conference hotel! Is this an industry first?

In short, all of the “lobby lizards” that attend hotel conferences will be shut out. If you don’t have a badge, you will not be able to get into the hotel’s restaurant, bar, lobby, or any other public spaces.

I’ve been attending hotel conferences for at least 25 years and this is the first time I have ever heard of public spaces being closed to the general public. I would be curious to know if any of you have seen this procedure at any other industry conferences.

I believe it is the first in the hotel industry.

Why should “lobby lizard freeloaders” be able to take advantage?

There are certainly two sides to this issue. On the one hand, after producing JMBM’s annual Meet the Money® conference for 22 years, we can certainly understand the concerns of the conference producers.

The hotel industry is gathered together under one roof for a few days only because the hotel conference is being produced there. A tremendous amount of time, effort and expense go in to producing a successful hotel conference.

Why should lobby lizard freeloaders be able to take advantage of this gathering without paying the price of admission to the conference? Isn’t this like stealing from the conference producers? And the lobby lizard trend can become a death spiral. Everyone who sees all the freeloaders wonders why they bothered to “do the right thing” and pay the price. After all a $2,000 admission fee is a significant cost to meet with all the people that you already know or a few new ones you want to meet.

I suspect that in the last few weeks the ALIS conference has received hundreds of new registrations that would not otherwise have received if lobby lizards were permitted in the conference hotel. This is a lot of lost revenue that goes to support the AH&LA and line the pockets of BHN.

So isn’t this a smart and innovative move by the ALIS conference producers?

Another side of the coin?

In our experience, there are several types of lobby lizard species. Some lobby lizards never pay to go to any conference and hang out for meetings during the entire conference. Some find themselves out of a job and go to the conferences as unemployed persons hoping to meet a few people for job prospects when they really don’t have the money to buy a conference admission.

Some firms pay full registration for a number of their people, and then are joined by a few additional staff members for particular meetings or for the conference, however, the additional people never attend any of the conference sessions, receptions or other events. They just sit in on certain meetings with the registered colleagues — often in a hospitality suite taken by the firm. Some people just “stop by” for a meeting or two when colleagues attending the conference give them a call because they’re in town.

Are there different equities for these people, depending upon the situation? Isn’t it an unfair imposition on registered delegates to make them leave the conference hotel if they want to meet with someone in Los Angeles who is not registered for the conference? How will they find a table or seat when they get back? Is it reasonable to make registered delegates spend an extra 30-60 minutes in attending an off-site meeting? Isn’t there something a little offensive about taking control of an entire hotel – particularly when there are no other convenient (nearby) meeting places outside the hotel?

What’s your opinion? We want to know!

If this move to stamp out lobby lizards is as financially successful as I guess it will be, this approach may soon become universal for all hotel conferences. The only thing that will stop it is broad public outcry that makes conference producers aware of other equities or consequences from their move.

I have never been a lobby lizard freeloader in my hotel lawyer career. I certainly have mused over the expenditure of $2,000 to attend the conference where I rarely go inside a live session. And it galls me that I pay the money while others don’t.

Still, something seems a little too heavy-handed about this approach to stamping out lobby lizards. What do you think? We would really like to know!

Give us your thoughts by clicking on “Comments” at the bottom of the blog article, Hotel Lawyer in Los Angeles: ALIS – What’s the commotion all about? Closing the conference hotel to outsiders. .

This is Jim Butler, author of and hotel lawyer, signing off. We’ve done more than $60 billion of hotel transactions and have developed innovative solutions to unlock value from hotels. Who’s your hotel lawyer?

Our Perspective. We represent hotel lenders, owners and investors. We have helped our clients find business and legal solutions for more than $60 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 1,300 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at or +1 (310) 201-3526.

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