Articles Posted in Ask the Hotel Lawyer™

Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
5 January 2013

Hotel Lawyer on how new privacy law enforcement may affect your mobile apps used in marketing. Hotel lawyer Robert Braun has an alert that may save you an unnecessary class action or troublesome lawsuit (or enforcement action). Although, the California Attorney General has started the furor, the impact of this approach will affect any company who deals with even one consumer in the state of California, and thus is likely to affect most of the hospitality industry in the United States, and many companies outside the US.

Here is what it is all about.

Privacy on the Move
California Imposes New Requirements
on Mobile Apps

by
Robert E. Braun | Hotel Lawyer

Hotel companies are actively entering the mobile application space as a means of gaining market share and solidifying guest relations. In addition to online travel agents like HotelsbyMe.com, a number of brands including Omni, Choice and Starwood have developed mobile applications. However, as mobile applications gain popularity, hotel companies should consider how privacy and security laws will impact how they can use those applications.

For companies with operations in California, that issue was highlighted on December 6, 2012, when the California Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Delta Airlines for failing to include a privacy policy with a smartphone application. The lawsuit, the first of its kind, alleges that Delta violated California law requiring online services to “conspicuously post its privacy policy” by failing to include such a policy with its “Fly Delta” mobile application.

The California online privacy law

In 2004, California enacted the California Online Privacy Protection Act (“CalOPPA”). This law requires operators of websites and online services to “conspicuously post” privacy policies about the personal information that is collected, how the consumer can access or request changes to personal information, how the operator of the site will notify consumers of changes, and the effective date of the policy.

In the case of an online service, “conspicuously posting” a privacy policy requires that the policy be “reasonably accessible…for consumers of the online service.”

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
7 October 2012

Hotel Lawyer on hotels’ liability for failure to protect hotel guests personal identities

My partner Robert Braun advises hotel owners in a wide range of operational issues, including information management. Because of the ubiquitous use of credit cards by hotel guests during a stay, as well as the growing demand for WiFi availability, hotels have been increasingly targeted by identity thieves. In his article below, Bob explains how hotels’ liability for this new type of guest security has grown and what hotels can do to protect their guests’ identities.

Hotel Liability for Guest Information and Identity
What you need to know
by
Robert E. Braun | Hotel Lawyer

A version of this article was first published in the September 21, 2012 issue of Hotel Business and is reprinted with permission.

Not too long ago, keeping guest information safe was a fairly straightforward process – perhaps the most innovative development was providing an in-room safe for valuables. This approach made sense at the time, when guest security was a matter of securing people and their physical possessions.

The industry now recognizes that hotel guests have valuables to protect that go far beyond watches and wallets, or even laptops and iPads – - perhaps the most valuable information a hotel guest has is his or her identity, and unless a hotel actively safeguards it, those valuables are at risk. The ubiquity of credit card, wireless internet and other options, while essential to hotel operations, is also a source of insecurity.

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
24 August 2012

Hotel Lawyer on card processing fees.

The financial reforms following in the wake of the banking mess brought new regulations on the use and charges for credit and debit cards. There may be some benefits here for hoteliers, but there certainly are some decisions to make.

In addition to all the work he does on hotel management agreements and hotel franchise agreements, my partner Robert Braun represents a number of merchant card processors, banks and merchants in structuring credit card processing arrangements, both within the United States and internationally.

Today, he shares some of his insights on the recent legal changes in laws on card processing and the potential impact on the hotel industry.

Credit Card Fees and the Hospitality Industry
Impact of the Durbin Amendment
by
Robert E. Braun | Hotel Lawyer

Dodd-Frank affects hotels and other merchants

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 certainly sparked fierce debate about government regulation, consumer choice, innovation and entrepreneurship. The Durbin Amendment, a last-minute addition to the Dodd-Frank Act, drastically lowers swipe fees – the fee charged to merchants every time a customer pays with plastic – on debit cards issued by big banks, cutting into the banks’ revenue while, presumably, lowering costs for merchants and therefore consumers. The reduction in fees was significant: the Amendment reduced fees to 24 cents from a previous average of 43 cents, according to a Federal Reserve Board report.

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
17 July 2012

Hotels and restaurants are among many other businesses that monitor employees at work through video surveillance, and through employees’ use of company-issued computers and smart phones. While employers gain benefits such as reducing theft, decreasing liability and ensuring safety procedures are followed, employees can feel that this electronic monitoring violates their privacy. In his article below, Mark Adams, a litigator in JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®, shares with us how courts are ruling in lawsuits that deal with electronic surveillance of employees. He also gives employers advice on how to prevent these lawsuits from happening.

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
29 May 2012

HotelLawyer.com launches
Portal to knowledge for the hospitality industry
JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® hotel lawyers launch comprehensive hospitality resource
LOS ANGELES — May 29, 2012. Jim Butler, Chairman of the Global Hospitality Group® at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) announced today that the Group has officially launched HotelLawyer.com, a comprehensive resource for the hospitality industry.

“JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® is known for providing useful information, thoughtful analysis and a refreshing perspective to legal and business issues that affect the industry,” said Butler. “Our rich library of industry information is now organized in one convenient place — at HotelLawyer.com.”

On HotelLawyer.com, readers will find nearly 500 articles published over the years on the Hotel Law Blog, and the first two books in the We Wrote the Book™ series (The Lenders Handbook for Troubled Hotels and The HMA Handbook: Hotel Management Agreements for Owners, Developers, Investors and Lenders). These FREE resources continue to be accessed by thousands of readers each month.

Also available without cost at HotelLawyer.com are presentations from industry leaders, such as those given at JMBM’s 2012 Meet the Money® conference by Suzanne Mellen of HVS, Bruce Baltin of PKF Consulting, Greg Hartmann of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels and Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality Group.

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hospitality Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
28 April 2009

Hospitality Lawyers on Innkeepers’ legal duties in dealing with Swine Flu and other infectious diseases. There is a lot of great information available about what Swine Flu is, how it is caused, and precautions people should take to avoid becoming infected. But there is very little guidance so far telling lodging operators what the legal and liability questions that apply to their operations.

That is why I turned to Jim Abrams, a valued senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® and former President and CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association, for some help.

What are the legal ramifications of refusing guests who may appear ill or who have come from Mexico? What are the liabilities that an employer might face for not training and protecting employees? What practical steps should hoteliers be taking to deal with the outbreak? Here is what Jim told me.

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hospitality Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
27 April 2009

Hotel Lawyer with more information about the World Health Organization upgrade to “Phase 4″ (on a 6 phase system) of the threat of a flu pandemic.

Today I received more reader comments on swine flu blog than I have for a long time. Clearly, blog readers are concerned about the swine flu catching the headlines. And after concern about health and safety issues, the potential implications of a “flu pandemic” are severe for the economy, and particularly, the travel and lodging industry. This was discussed in the article earlier today entitled Swine flu or SARS 2?

One of the bullet points in the cited article noted that the World Health Organization or WHO had increased its rating for the seriousness of this threat by a full notch to “phase 4.” In answer to your questions, here’s what that means.

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hospitality Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
27 April 2009

Hotel Lawyer with breaking concerns over a flu pandemic. International fears of a flu pandemic rose today as the death toll from swine flu in Mexico rose to 149. Cases have also been reported in the United States, Canada, Spain and New Zealand. What does this mean for the lodging industry and the economy?

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
22 April 2009

Hotel Lawyer with the latest PKF Consulting and JMBM survey results.

As I was getting ready to publish JMBM’s latest survey, I received an email from our friends at PKF Consulting with their 2009 Hospitality Investment Survey. The results of both surveys are interesting for different reasons. Here they are.

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Published on:

By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
27 July 2008

Hospitality Lawyer — Why we need to maintain the discipline to keep ADRs up! As hotel occupancy rates are tending to soften nationally, the data from Smith Travel Research (STR) tells us that the industry has continued to do well because average daily rates (ADRs) have continued to rise, particularly in the Top 25 markets, and in the market segments that STR calls Luxury, Upper Upscale, Upscale and Midscale without Food & Beverage.

But there is a new threat to industry profits looming on the horizon — something beyond pestilence, war, recession, and falling airline seat capacity, and this is within our own control if we will just behave rationally. Here’s the scoop from www.HotelLawBlog.com.

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