Articles Posted in Outlook and Trends

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 →

Published on:

24 September 2019

Click here for other cannabis-related articles.

The column below was first published in the October 2019 issue of Hotel Management and is reprinted with permission.

Why are so many hoteliers talking about cannabis hotels?
by
Jim Butler, Hotel Lawyer

Legal cannabis sales exceeded $10 billion in 2018, and are expected to exceed $20 billion by 2025. 33 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational  or medical purposes (or both). With all this activity, many sense an opportunity to generate more guests and profits by developing “cannabis hotels”.

Are you recommending your hotel clients dive into this?

No, except as a limited opportunity to explore carefully. Our law firm is extremely active in the hospitality industry and is one of few full-service firms in the country with a dedicated cannabis group, so we would certainly present a cannabis opportunity to the hotel industry if we thought it was viable. But we think cannabis is a “false flag” opportunity for hotels, presenting more problems than opportunities.

You say more problems than opportunities. Why?

Cannabis is still a Schedule 1 substance prohibited by Federal law. Federal agents can seize product and arrest people trafficking in cannabis products, even in states where it is legal.

The Federal illegality spooks banks with FDIC insurance. Does any hotel want to risk its banking relationships and lines of credit to dabble with cannabis?

The IRS can deny ordinary and necessary business deductions to taxpayers who traffic in Schedule 1 substances.

The regulatory situation is very complex with widely divergent state and local regulations, making it difficult or impossible to formulate uniform procedures and business approaches.

In many jurisdictions, it is likely that the property would lose all liquor licenses if it distributes cannabis products. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

24 July 2019

Click here for the latest articles on Resort Fee Litigation.

Note: If you are a consumer with a Resort Fee issue, please do NOT contact us! We do not represent consumers with complaints against hotels. We advise hotel industry clients on litigation, compliance and risk mitigation strategies. We have provided counsel on Attorney General investigations. We understand the best defenses to consumer and government agency claims that Resort Fee practices constitute violations of state consumer protection actions, the Federal Trade Commission Act and other causes of action based on misrepresentation, consumer fraud, and unfair business practices.

Another state Attorney General joins in the Resort Fee litigation – this time suing Hilton

On July 23, 2019, Attorney General Doug Patterson filed a lawsuit against Hilton, alleging that it has engaged in deceptive and misleading pricing practices and failure to disclose fees in violation of Nebraska’s consumer protection laws. The complaint seeks injunctive relief to force Hilton to advertise the true prices of its hotel rooms, provide damages for Nebraska consumers, statutory civil penalties of $2,000 for each violation, and costs for investigation and legal action. Click here to see the Nebraska complaint against Hilton.

This new lawsuit is particularly significant because it was filed just two weeks after the District of Columbia filed a similar suit against Marriott.

A new template for other Attorneys General and plaintiff’s class action lawyers?

Many industry observers believe that the two recent lawsuits against Marriott and Hilton provide a virtual “template” for other AGs and class action lawyers to mark up and file – potentially against all hotel franchise companies, hotel operators, and hotel owners involved with any hotel that has used Resort Fees or other mandatory fees or charges imposed on all hotel guests which are not included in the initially quoted room rate.

The conduct complained of in the DC and Nebraska lawsuits traces the pattern outlined by the January 2017 FTC Report as deceptive and misleading under the FTC Act and most state consumer protection laws (that are based on the FTC Act). Although these first two suits are against big hotel companies, they are just at the top of the pyramid and provide high-profile examples of targets for plaintiffs. Similar actions would likely exist against every other brand, operator or owner of a hotel using undisclosed Resort Fees in their advertised room rates. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

09 July 2019

Click here for the latest articles on Resort Fee Litigation.

Note: If you are a consumer with a Resort Fee issue, please do NOT contact us! We do not represent consumers with complaints against hotels. We are part of the fabric of the hotel industry and are committed to informing, educating and assisting players in the hotel industry.

Hotel Lawyer: We hate to say “we told you so” on Resort Fee litigation

We have been watching the Resort Fee issue for several years. We have advised clients on litigation, compliance and risk mitigation strategies. We have provided counsel on Attorney General investigations. We understand the best defenses to consumer and government agency claims that Resort Fee practices constitute violations of state consumer protection actions, the Federal Trade Commission Act and other cause of action based on misrepresentation, consumer fraud, and unfair business practices.

We have cautioned that consumer frustration over this issue is very high, and government agencies have periodically shown significant interest in jumping on a populist bandwagon. But today, it looks like the situation may have finally reached a turning point.

Hotel Resort Fees litigation back in the news

On July 9, 2019, the Attorney General for the District of Columbia sued Marriott International in Superior Court for the District of Columbia over its policies and practices regarding “Resort Fees” and “drip pricing.” The lawsuit says that Marriott’s use of Resort Fee pricing misrepresents material facts (and tends to mislead consumers), and is an unlawful trade practice that violates the District’s Consumer Protection Act.

Resort Fees is a shorthand expression for all mandatory fees and charges imposed by a hotel on its guests which are not included in the quoted room rate. They may have a variety of names such as resort fees, service fees, amenity fees, destination fees, surcharges or otherwise. But the common feature is that they are non-optional charges to the guest which are not included in the initially quoted room rate.

Copy of the complaint in DC vs. Marriott

Click here to view a copy of the complaint.

Potential importance of this Resort Fee case

Resort Fees have been around since at least 1997, but by 2017 they were estimated to have grown to more than $2.7 billion. They seem to be gaining greater popularity with hoteliers and continue to be a top annoyance for hotel guest. The practices the new lawsuit complains of are widely used throughout the industry by a large number of hotel brands and operators.

While some hotel companies may seek to distinguish their practices from those of Marriott in this case, we believe that most Resort Fee cases will present similar liabilities, challenges and compliance problems that Marriott will face.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

13 June 2019

This year at Meet the Money® 2019, we asked attendees what they they see on the horizon for the hotel industry in 2019 and 2020 where are we in the cycle? What trends are emerging? What are the market’s strengths and weaknesses?

We’ve compiled some of the interesting answers we received in the video, below. Watch it and hear what opportunities and challenges industry executives see ahead.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

02 June 2019

Important data on Boutique, Lifestyle, and Soft Brands

Each year since 2016, The Highland Group has published the Boutique Hotel Report, an annual compilation of data describing the boutique hotel segment. Kim Bardoul, a partner with the group, specializes in boutique hotels and produces the report each year.

A resource for developers, consultants, appraisers, operators, lenders and brands, the report defines lifestyle, soft brand collections and independent boutique hotels; details room distribution; describes current market share and recent trends; and compares boutiques with traditional hotel types for RevPAR, F&B revenue, Trev PAR and EBITDA.

With boutique hotels one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. hospitality industry, and $20 billion in revenue in 2018, The Highland Group’s report is a valuable tool for anyone interested in how they might take advantage of their strong performance. Following are a couple of charts I found interesting, and that illustrate the data available in the full report.

Lifestyle and Soft Brand Collection supply increased dramatically from 2000 to 2018 – Lifestyle boutique rooms increased by 13% from 2017 to 2018, and Soft Brand Collection rooms increased by 32%. The charts below, provided in the report, illustrate this trend. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

07 May 2019

Greetings from Los Angeles and the beautiful Hyatt Regency LAX!

Today, we kicked off Meet the Money® 2019 – the National Hotel Finance & Investment Conference hosted by JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® – with the LIIC Top Ten. Presented by my friend, Mike Cahill, CEO and Founder of HREC and one of LIIC’s co-chairmen, the LIIC Top Ten reflects the perspectives of the industry’s most active members in the hospitality market.

— Jim

About the LIIC Top Ten

For the past 15 years, 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 $60 billion of lodging real estate.

Members are currently extremely active and have the pulse of the market, with 64% of LIIC hotel investors having successfully sold a hotel in the last 12 months and 50% purchased a lodging asset. In defiance of any late cycle concerns, 93% are looking to buy more hotels over the next 24 months.

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 real estate business (www.liic.org).

2019 LIIC Top Ten Survey Results: CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

24 April 2019

LOS ANGELES—JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® will host Meet the Money® national hotel finance and investment conference May 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency LAX in Los Angeles.  Now in its 29th year, this annual event will bring together hotel owners, operators, developers, consultants, investors, brands, lenders and other capital providers to discuss current developments in the industry as well as strategies for the future.

“Our line-up of more than 70 speakers include top hospitality leaders who will share their expertise and deliver essential information for maximizing potential opportunities,” said Jim Butler, Chairman of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®. “Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet some of the most active capital providers in the market for both existing and new hotel construction,” he said.

Free to all who register is a special pre-conference session on Monday afternoon May 6th – Meet The Equity: Investment Bootcamp – Preparing and Executing the Capital Raise. This interactive workshop will be led by Jonathan Falik of JF Capital Advisors, Guy Maisnik, Vice Chair of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group®, and private equity experts who will explain how they evaluate requests for capital, what makes certain deals attractive to them, and why they reject projects.

Some of this year’s panel discussions and special presentations, include:

  • Views from the Executive Suite: What’s Important Now?
  • Creative Financing: Mezz and Beyond
  • Is Select Service Still Everyone’s Favorite? Where Does it Go from Here?
  • Developing, Redeveloping and Repositioning to Optimize Value
  • Winning Strategies for Buying and Selling Hotels
  • Construction Financing Today

“Our speakers are passionate about the hospitality industry and we look forward to the enthusiastic exchange of ideas that happens every year at Meet the Money,” said Butler. “We look forward to seeing our long-time industry friends and making new ones.”

Registration can be made through the Meet the Money® website. CONTINUE READING →