Articles Posted in Outlook and Trends

Published on:

15 September 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus.

Boutiques may be adapting faster than other hotel sectors, but still hurting

The theme of the Boutique Lifestyle Leaders Association’s (BLLA) upcoming Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit is “Dare to Adapt” and there are some compelling arguments as to why the boutique space may be able to adapt to the current economic crisis faster than other sectors in the hotel industry.

“Boutiques can pivot easily,” said Frances Kiradjian, Founder and CEO of the BLLA. “They can make decisions quickly without checking in with brands.”

Take cleaning, an area of great to concern to guests in the current COVID-19 environment. As new information and cleaning methods come to light, boutiques can implement them quickly. As Kiradjian said, “By design, some boutiques have a smaller footprint and fewer rooms, smaller elevators, smaller public spaces, and dedicated staff members who care about delivering a customized experience for each guest.”

Guy Maisnik, Vice Chair of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group, who will moderate the panel “Protecting Your Assets Amid a Pandemic” at the BLLA’s Digital Summit, agrees that boutiques have great flexibility, and being nimble and able to change quickly is critical in this market.

“For one thing, many hotels have gone toward smaller guest rooms and larger indoor communal public spaces,” he said. “Obviously, such configuration does not work in this environment.”

Maisnik said that many boutiques are heavy on food and beverage, which provides needed income. Those that have outdoor areas, such as rooftop decks will fare even better.

Kiradjian points out that guests wanting a quick getaway to relieve the monotony of sheltering-in-place, are looking for a smaller hotel like a boutique, due to social distancing requirements.

“Boutiques located with an urban area’s “drive market” have another advantage,” she said, noting that travelers continue to avoid air travel.

Even with these advantages, boutiques are struggling to gain occupancy and stay above water.

“Owners in all hotel sectors are talking to their lenders,” said Maisnik, explaining that lenders are refraining from receiverships and foreclosures, as the capital to buy foreclosed properties hasn’t come forward. “Right now, lenders are waiting and seeing”, he said. “Some borrowers have turned in their keys, but not many.”

What does the future look like?

“In normal circumstances, entrepreneurs take risks,” said Maisnik. “But this is not a normal circumstance, and the risks are not predictable. No one could possibly predict a global pandemic.”

“Wall Street is doing well,” he said. “But given the political environment, it is not going to look good for the bankers on Wall Street to shut down the employers on Main Street. Wall Street and Main Street need each other.”

As workouts and bankruptcies increase, Maisnik thinks we may see unique applications of existing law that will help borrowers, especially those whose businesses were doing well before COVID.

“When issues are litigated in the courts, we will find some judges very sympathetic to borrowers,” he said. “Everything, including force majeure in certain jurisdictions, is on the table.”

Click here for more about the BLLA’s Digital Summit, taking place on September 17 & 18, 2020.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

25 June 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.

Meet the Money® Online: CMBS Special Servicing FAQs
for CMBS borrowers, investors and holders

A virtual roundtable of current perspectives, challenges and opportunities for hotel and retail projects

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® is excited to announce that next up in our Meet the Money® Online series is a virtual roundtable discussion among some of the top experts in the complex world of CMBS. If you are a CMBS borrower, investor or holder – or are involved in properties affected by CMBS – you will not want to miss this important conversation.

The online event will take place on Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 10:30 AM PDT / 1:30 PM EDT. Register now.

Join our experts online for this 1-hour event which will answer the questions most frequently asked of CMBS special servicers and will also cover important considerations that CMBS holders, borrowers and investors often miss, including:

  • What are special servicers seeing now after the first wave of COVID-19 relief requests? How are forbearance requests being handled?
  • Which loans have larger underlying issues that will require a more complicated and protracted workout?
  • What are the critical appraisal and valuation issues today? What does stabilized value look like, and what assumptions are going to be used?
  • What are the most important effects of Pooling and Servicing Agreements? What do the documents say (or don’t say)?
  • What inconsistencies are showing up and where are they coming from?
  • What are the red flags for loan modifications (or purchase/sale) that could affect the all-important CMBS tax structure?
  • What impact does securitization structure—REMIC, Grantor Trust, CLR/QRS—have on workouts?
  • Can a “special purpose entity” file bankruptcy with independent directors and other bankruptcy remote features in loan documents or corporate structure?
  • Can a hotel be considered “single asset real estate” (or SARE) for streamlined bankruptcy purposes, and why do creditors care?
  • What should we anticipate moving forward?

The program will be moderated by Jim Butler, Chair of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®, a founding partner of JMBM, and one of the top hotel lawyers in the world. Devoting 100% of his practice to hospitality, Jim is author of www.HotelLawBlog.com and chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® which focuses on representing hotel owners, developers, and capital providers. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

13 May 2020

Click here to see How JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you, here for the latest articles on the coronavirus and here for the latest materials on loan modifications, workouts, bankruptcies and receiverships.

COVID: First of kind Wisconsin Supreme Court decision strikes down state’s stay-at-home order by vote of 4 to 3

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers issued his stay-at-home order for nonessential businesses on March 18. On April 16, he extended the order until May 26. Reports say that the governor declined to negotiate with legislators two weeks ago on a compromise to the terms of the restrictive order, preferring to see what the court decided.

It was a winner-take-all decision. This evening, that order was invalidated and the court refused the state’s request for a six-day stay to allow GOP lawmakers and the governors to work out new rules. As a result, all state restrictions are now removed on social gatherings or business.

After a 90-minute online video conference hearing before the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, the court today issued a decision striking down the governor’s order.

The court ruled that the government exceeded the statutory authority granted during an emergency, characterizing the order as “confining all people to their homes, forbidding travel and closing businesses.”

Justice Rebecca Bradley was one of the concurring justices. During oral arguments last week, she asked the attorneys defending Andrea Palm, Wisconsin’s top health official the following question:

Isn’t it the very definition of tyranny for one person to order people to be imprisoned for going to work, among other ordinarily lawful activities?

The state argued that the legislature gave the health department officials such power, and said people will die if the court strikes down the order. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

30 April 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus.

Note: If you are an individual consumer with coronavirus-related travel issues, please do NOT contact us! We do not represent individual consumers. We advise businesses on major contracts, investments and financing. 

Hotels have seen substantial losses in revenue in the wake of the coronavirus, and face the uncertainty of an economy which may take months or years to recover. For many, insurance payments may assist in keeping their business afloat, but few hotel owners or lenders are making claims. JMBM partner Guy Maisnik explains how some hotels may qualify for Business Interruption insurance coverage for COVID-19.

– Jim

Business Interruption Insurance may cover hotel losses
from COVID-19 shelter with judicial claims

Many coverage exclusions focus on disease, not government shelter orders

by
Guy Maisnik

Hotel owners and underwriters have seen the economic prognosis for hotels for the next twelve to twenty-four months, and it does not look good. Modern America 2.0 will not be the America of January 2020 for a long time.

The “V” uptick in the U.S. and world economy will come when the world can pass the “middle aisle test,” as in when will you comfortably: 1) take the middle seat in public transportation and travel; 2) sit on a bar stool or restaurant counter between two others; and 3) attend sports or entertainment events or other public gatherings. Until then, the bottom of the economic “U” may feel like an eternity.

A mistake not to pursue claims

So, what does this have to do with insurance? Everything. Because insurance payments might sustain your business until your guests can pass the middle aisle test. By now, you have read a number of articles written by lawyers and consultants on business interruption insurance – some more measured and analytical and others more aggressive.

Many hotel owners (or their lenders, surprisingly) are not bothering to make insurance claims at the advice of their insurance agents or counsel. These advisors believe there is a low likelihood of making a successful claim based on the 2006 Insurance Services Office (ISO) circular – Form CP 01 40 07 06, which excludes from coverage the loss or damage caused by “virus, bacteriaum or other micororganism that induces or is capable or inducing physical distress, illness or disease.”

In our view, this is a mistake. We believe hotel owners and capital providers should carefully review their insurance policies and coordinate with their consultants, lawyers and brokers to determine whether an aggressive approach is possible.

Policy exclusions are narrowly construed

First, all business interruption insurance policies are not the same. A sophisticated buyer of insurance services – and its legal counsel – will have their policies carefully analyzed. Depending on the policy and applicable law, there can be meritorious arguments in support of coverage, even if a hotel is open and operating.

Second, history and case law are replete with apparently so-called airtight policy exclusions only to find a court holding an insurer liable for coverage. Katrina is the most notable example, with insurers paying out approximately $900 million in coverage notwithstanding flood exclusions. Recently, the Seventh Circuit held that a manufacturer’s insurer must cover its insured, a designer and builder of anaerobic digesters, under its errors and omissions policy for claims alleging breach of contract, despite an express exclusion in the policy for claims arising out of a breach of contract. Similarly, the Ninth Circuit held that a war exclusion did not apply when an entertainment production company incurred damages as a result of Hamas rocket attacks.

The point is that insureds who purchased business interruption insurance and paid expensive policy premiums, should strongly consider pursuing coverage, even if not apparent under the precise language of a policy, particularly taking into account the policy terms, applicable law – both case and statutory – and prior judicial decisions.

The case for income loss coverage

The coronavirus pandemic caused states, cities and counties throughout the U.S. to impose social distancing measures in the form of stay at home, shelter in place and other executive type orders, and required businesses to close and remain closed until otherwise directed. Excluded from such orders were so-called essential businesses, which often included hotels. Regardless of whether a hotel is open or not, such closure and limited closure requirements seriously crippled virtually all hotel revenue demand drivers (i.e., businesses, restaurants, entertainment venues, schools, and so forth). This has had led to disastrous consequences for hotel businesses, severely reducing demand, disrupting operations and supply chains, causing a loss of income. The income losses will extend well beyond the date such orders are removed.

Hotels are suffering damages in a variety of ways as a result of COVID-19 and the shelter orders, most notably income loss, fixed expenses during partial or total closure, structure contamination, reputation damages and third-party claims.

Insurers will aggressively defend

True, there are hurdles to overcome. Given the state of the insurance industry and the large number of claims being made, it is unlikely that your insurance company will simply roll over and write a check. The insurer’s first (and not only) defense will likely be “virus, bacteriaum or other micororganism” exclusion from coverage under its policy, and that further the 2006 circular specifically addresses loss of business income. Hotel policies may also explicitly exclude coverage for property damage and loss resulting from viral and bacterial contaminants such as SARS, MERS, avian flu and the coronavirus. Insurers may even bring their own claim in a separate suit for declaratory relief that there was not an insurable event, which under a business interruption policy is generally defined as a direct physical loss or damage. Regardless, courts may well determine that business interruption and losses were caused by governmental order and not a viral pandemic.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

17 March 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on distressed hotel loans, here for The Lenders Handbook for Troubled Hotels, and here for articles on the coronavirus.

 

Hotel owners, operators and lenders are under stress – hotel defaults, layoffs, and shutdowns loom. Prompt action is critical.

For the last three to five years the pundits have increasingly speculated that the longest economic recovery in history could not endure and that we were due for a recession. We hope that the extraordinary measures being taken now may defer some of the worst fears, but clearly the US economy has been plunged into distress, and the pain is particularly acute in hotels, restaurants and related travel and tourism businesses.

The shelter at home edits of the Federal, state and local governments are literally requesting that people stay at home for the next two weeks. Many hotels have plunged into single-digit occupancies and slashed revenues to cover fixed and operating expenses. Restaurants struggle to see if they can survive on takeout and delivery services alone. Furloughs and layoffs are imminent.

Lenders and borrowers alike are seeking relief, clarity, and resolution. It feels like some blend of the 1990s and 2008. And it is time to go back to the basics or distressed loans: Quick assessment, preparation of plans, transparency, communication, and cooperation for mutual benefit.

The lawyers who comprise JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® have extensive experience and resources that can help hotel stakeholders answer these questions. The issues involved are too numerous to address in one article, and the answers will vary widely depending on each hotel asset and how it is structured.

Today’s article will address how the “structure” of hotel ownership and operations impact the interests of the various stakeholders.

  
Coronavirus: Creative strategies to mitigate financial impact
Loan defaults, lender rights & recapitalizations
by
Jim Butler and Guy Maisnik
JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®

 

Facing the realities of low hotel occupancy and dwindling operating revenue

Lenders, equity providers, borrowers and operators are facing hard realities regarding the performance of their hospitality assets due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

What are the parties’ rights? What remedies can be pursued? What is the best approach for both the short term and the long term?

Understanding the structure of the hotel asset will help stakeholders answer these difficult questions.

The “operating business” is key

It is often said that hotels are a special real estate asset with an operating business. It really is the other way around: hotels should be thought of as a unique operating business first, within special purpose real estate. This is true not just for hotels, but for assets like timeshares, casinos, gasoline stations, movie theaters, and restaurants. The operating business comprises a large component of the asset’s value.

It is also the operating business that raises thorny problems when cash flow drops dramatically due to matters outside the control of any party – such as a global pandemic or a declaration of national emergency.

Identify and work with all stakeholders

It would be a serious mistake for any stakeholder to believe it holds all the cards in directing the final outcome on asset direction following a calamity. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

20 February 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on the impact of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus continues to be of global concern, and remains an issue the hospitality industry should be tracking, both for economic and legal reasons. Bob Braun discusses whether the virus may trigger a force majeure event for hotel operators and owners, and what that might mean for a property’s performance obligations and other operations.

— Jim
Coronavirus as Force Majeure Event:
What Hotel Owners and Operators Should Consider
by
Robert Braun

Coronavirus (COVID 19) has been a leading news item for more than a month now, competing and often pre-empting other national and international news items. For the hospitality industry, the virus has created severe disruptions in the largest single source of tourists. Hotel companies, both inside and outside of China, have warned of reductions in revenues, and as the virus continues to spread, the trend does not bode well. Like the SARS virus of 2002-2003, coronavirus has the potential to disrupt travel for months, and the travel industry will take time to recover.

Performance Tests and More
The most immediate effect will be seen by hotel companies when they review upcoming financial statements and see shortfalls. This could, among other things, cause some hotels to fail their performance obligations, giving owners the right to terminate a management agreement (unless the hotel operator exercised a right to cure the shortfall). At that point, hotel operators are likely to claim that the impact of the virus constitutes a force majeure event, which would require performance tests to change the performance obligations. For more details on performance tests, see our article on Hotel Management Agreement Performance Standards.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

31 January 2020

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on the coronavirus and here for the latest on force majeure.

Note: If you are an individual consumer with coronavirus-related travel issues, please do NOT contact us! We do not represent individual consumers. We advise businesses on major contracts, investments and financing. 

On January 31, 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared the Wuhan coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. The numbers of confirmed cases, as well as the death toll continues to climb. (For current statistics, see the Center for Systems Science and Engineering’s online dashboard that pulls data from the World Health Organization.)

Containing the spread of the disease is of global concern. Beyond the serious human health impacts, businesses worldwide expect disruptions in supply chains for manufactured goods, evidenced by the S&P’s sharp decline on January 31st. The U.S. has issued a “Do not travel to China” advisory, major U.S. airlines announced cancellations of flights to China, and President Trump announced a travel ban on foreign nationals who have traveled to China.

Hoteliers have their own causes of concern.

Chinese nationals comprise the largest tourist market in the world with 159 million outbound tourists in 2019, accounting for 12.2% of all outbound travelers globally and US $275 billion spent. If you cater to even a small percentage of these tourists, their absence will affect your bottom line.

  • Do group travel organizers have contractual obligations to your hotel if they cancel trips due to the coronavirus?
  • If travelers in your hotel infect other guests or your workforce, what is your liability?
  • If you have hotels in China, what responsibilities do you have toward foreign guests who cannot easily return to their home countries?
  • What do you do if your employees refuse to come to work for fear of becoming infected?
  • What policies and procedures should you put in place for managing these kinds of crises?
  • What exactly does your insurance cover?
  • How can you find experts who can help?

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

24 January 2020

If you’re planning to attend the 2020 ALIS conference next week, we’d like to hear from you! Our Global Hospitality Group® attorneys are ready to discuss:

  • Successful hotel purchase strategies
  • Getting a great hotel management agreement
  • Optimizing your financing structure
  • Avoiding regulatory pitfalls in 2020
  • How to protect your company and comply with new cybersecurity regulations
  • Hotel industry litigation issues

Please contact us if you’d like to get in touch during the conference:

jim-150x150Jim Butler
Partner, Chairman
Global Hospitality Group®
310.201.3526
JButler@jmbm.com
guy-150x150Guy Maisnik
Partner, Vice Chair
Global Hospitality Group®
310.201.3588
MGM@jmbm.com
david-150x150David A. Sudeck
Partner
310.201.3518
DSudeck@jmbm.com
bob-150x150Robert E. Braun
Partner
310.785.5331
RBraun@jmbm.com
jeff-150x150Jeffrey T. Myers
Partner
310.201.3525
JMyers@jmbm.com
mark-150x150Mark S. Adams
Partner
949.623.7230
MarkAdams@jmbm.com
Published on:

02 January 2020

Click here for the latest articles on Data Technology, Privacy & Security.

 

My partner, Bob Braun, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group, has written extensively about the California Consumer Privacy Act that became effective January 1, 2010.  In his excellent article below, he describes how the CCPA will impact the hotel industry.

— Jim

CCPA: Loyalty Programs, Data Retention and the Brave New World of Privacy

by Robert E. Braun

This article first appeared in the Hotel Business Review and is reprinted with permission from www.HotelExecutive.com.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (the “CCPA” or the “Act”) is a piece of consumer privacy legislation which was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on June 28, 2018, and goes into effect on January 1, 2020. The Act is, far and away, the strongest privacy legislation enacted in the United States at the moment (although there are a number of contenders for that honor), giving more power to consumers to control the collection and use of their private data, and is poised to have far-reaching effects on data privacy.

What is the CCPA?

It is estimated that more than 500,000 companies are directly subject to the CCPA, many of them smaller and mid-size business, where the detailed requirements of the Act – disclosure and notice procedures, opt-out rights, updating privacy policies, and revising vendor agreements – is daunting. As discussed below, many hotels and hotel companies will be directly impacted by the Act, either because their qualify as a “business” as defined in the CCPA, or because they are associated with companies – brands and management companies – that are subject to the Act. Hotel owners, managers and brands that have not grappled with the requirements of the CCPA need to move quickly to do so, or risk potential liability under the penalty provisions of the Act.

Where did the Act Come From?

In early 2018, Alistair McTaggart, a California real estate developer, led an effort to include a new privacy law – the Consumer Right to Privacy Act of 2018 – on the November 2018 California ballot. By June 2018, supporters of the initiative had gathered enough signatures to earn a place on the November ballot. In response, California legislators, working with California businesses and other interest groups, negotiated and passed a substitute bill – the CCPA – in exchange for an agreement to drop the more restrictive text in the Consumer Right to Privacy Act from the November ballot.

The Act is aggressive, and cites the March 2018 disclosure of the misuse of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, as well as the congressional hearings that followed which highlighted the fact that any personal information shared on the internet can be subject to considerable misuse and theft. This prompted the California legislature to move rapidly to protect Californians’ right to privacy by giving consumers much more control of their personal information. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

30 December 2019

Click here for the latest articles on Labor & Employment.

Hotel Lawyer with labor & employment law update for 2020

Several new pieces of California legislation will take effect on the first day of the new year, impacting nearly all employers and how they handle worker classification, discrimination disputes, arbitration agreements, and union organizing. Our round-up will help you determine which key issues may impact you in 2020; contact us to be sure you’re ready for all these upcoming changes.
Use of Independent Contractors Severely Limited as of New Year
On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 5 into law, codifying the holding in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court which severely curtailed when employers may use independent contractors. AB 5 is effective January 1, 2020 and sets forth an “ABC” tests to determine whether workers qualify as independent contractors.

The test examines whether:

  1. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact
  2. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business
  3. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed

The “B” prong is new, and may be particularly problematic for businesses – potentially resulting in misclassification of individuals who were formerly properly classified as independent contractors.

AB 5 codifies a number of exceptions from the ABC test, including but not limited to:

  1. A person or organization licensed by the Department of Insurance;
  2. California licensed physician, surgeon, dentist, podiatrist, psychologist, or veterinarian;
  3. California licensed lawyer, architect, engineer, private investigator, or accountant;
  4. Securities broker-dealer or investment adviser or their agents and representatives registered with the SEC or FINRA or licensed by California;
  5. Direct sales salespeople;
  6. Commercial fishermen.

Workers in these categories are subject to the “Economic Realities” test set forth in Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Dept. of Industrial Relations. In applying the economic realities test, the most significant factor to be considered is whether the person to whom service is rendered (the employer or principal) has control, or the right to control, the worker both as to the work done and the manner and means in which it is performed.

AB 5 also provides for limited exemptions to the ABC test for certain professional services, business-to-business contracts, construction subcontracts, relationships between referral agencies and service providers, and contracts between motor clubs and third parties. When these categories of relationships qualify, they are subject to Borello’s economic realities test.

What this means for you: All businesses using independent contractors should conduct audits and review written independent contracts under the new standards to ensure that workers are properly classified. Misclassification can result in significant penalties, wage and hour liability, EDD and other tax liabilities as well as trigger class action lawsuits.

CONTINUE READING →

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