Articles Posted in Ask the Hotel Lawyer™

Published on:

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.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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?

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

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.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

Author of www.HotelLawBlog.com
21 June 2008
Hospitality Attorney’s top insights to hotel industry. As we approach the half-way mark in 2008, the hospitality lawyers in JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® thought it would be interesting to determine our readers’ “top picks” of all the articles we have posted this year. We could almost say that the top three picks are hotel financing, hotel financing and hotel financing. But here are the top three picks by “Topics” at www.HotelLawBlog.com:

(1) Hotel financing and hotel values in buy-sell transactions
(2) Hotel management agreements
(3) LEED and GREEN hotel development

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

Author of www.HotelLawBlog.com
1 February 2008
Keywords:

Hotel Operating Agreement, HOA, Hotel Management Agreement, HMA, Hotel Management Contract, Management Contract. Hotel Operator, Hotel Manager, Hotel Owner. RFP for Hotel Manager. RFP for Hotel Operator, How to get a great hotel operator.

Terminology

Contracts between hotel owners and managers (or operators) controlling the management of a hotel go by various names. They are called hotel management agreements, HMAs, hotel management contracts or hotel operating agreements. For convenient reference, this article will generally use the term “Hotel Management Agreement” or “HMA.” However all these terms can be used interchangeably and mean the same thing, just as with hotel operator or hotel manager.

Whatever they are called, Hotel Management Agreements allocate risk between the hotel manager and the hotel owner. They are critical in determining the profitability and value of a hotel.

Hotel Lawyer on hotel management agreements and operator breach of duty. It may be an exaggeration to say that “JMBM wrote the book on hotel management agreements,” but we certainly know the area and have at least written a few chapters in that book. We have been helping owners, developers and lenders with many hundreds of hotel management agreements over the past 20 years. We have negotiated, re-negotiated, terminated and litigated almost every aspect of them, so the only thing surprising about the latest jury verdict handed down on January 25, 2008 against Marriott International and Ritz-Carlton is that it shows a continuing disconnect of operators who choose to ignore their contractual and fiduciary duties. (Search “Management Agreements” at www.HotelLawBlog.com)

In this case, one of our clients owned the Ritz-Carlton Bali which was managed under a typical long-term, no-cut management contract. A few days ago, after a 3 week trial, a jury sitting less than 10 miles from Ritz-Carlton’s home office ruled that the management contract was breached by Marriott International and Ritz-Carlton, giving the owner the right to terminate the contract, awarding $382,304 in compensatory damages, $10 million in punitive damages, plus attorneys fees and costs to the owner. The Wall Street Journal published an article today by Tamara Audi on the case. How does this happen?

CONTINUE READING →