Monthly Archives: November 2010

Hospitality Industry Trends: How Will Hotels And Restaurants Of The Future Improve Their Operations And Profitability? (Video)

Here is an interesting video describing some of the future trends of the hospitality industry, and more specificly hotels and restaurants

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Filed under Green Lodging, Guest Issues, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Technology, Training

Hospitality Industry Sustainability Initiatives: Hotel “Green Initiatives” Are Being Implemented And Maintained Through Training And Management In Spite Of Economic Downturn

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Hotel Industry Liability Issues: “Bed Bug” Court Verdicts Have Recently Found Hotel Owners Liable When “Conscious And Deliberate Behavior” Allowed Infestations To Proliferate

The recent surge in bed bugs has created an uptick in litigation against motel owners and landlords alike.  duLac’s article focuses on a Maryland attorney who is filing a series

Bed Beg infestations at hotels can result in guilty verdicts against hotel owners if conscious and deliberate behavior led to infestations going untreated.

of bed bug liability suits.  The typical compensatory damages claim is $200,000, and many of the suits claim punies.  Bed bug suits, in Maryland and elsewhere, generally face three major issues.

First, plaintiff will have to prove notice on the part of the motel owner or landlord.  Actual notice is best, but constructive notice should suffice.  For constructive notice, the focus will be the length of time the condition (bed bugs) has been in place.  The Maryland suits contain mostly conclusory allegations, so discovery will be important.

Second, plaintiff will have to establish compensatory damages.  Bed bugs are nasty creatures, and I have a lot of sympathy for people impacted by them.  Plaintiffs in Mathias got a jury verdict for compensatory damages of $5,000.  A Florida attorney quoted in duLac’s article is leaving the bed bug liability field because the damages are too small.  He noted that he settled one case for $4,000 and another for $10,000.

Finally, a fairly standard punies regime requires a plaintiff to prove some type of conscious and deliberate behavior on the part of the defendant.  In Mathias, the hotel owners were informed about the bed bugs.  Instead of paying for a $500 extermination, the owners allowed the bed bug situation to fester for nearly two years.  It was widely known the hotel had bed bugs.  There were certain rooms that employees were not supposed to rent out because of the bugs, yet the rooms were rented if there were not enough other rooms available.  Guests were informed the bugs were ticks (as if that’s better!).  Under these circumstances, the court upheld a punies verdict of $186,000.  If proving notice in the Maryland cases will require the discovery of significant facts, for punies the bar is even higher.

For more:  http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2010/11/bed-bug-liability.html

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Filed under Claims, Guest Issues, Health, Liability, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hotel Industry Cyber-Crime Risks: Hotels Are #1 Target For Credit Card Data Theft As Centralized Processing And Economic Downturn Delay Encryption Software Upgrades

 “Because of the downturn in the economy, a lot of industries have stopped upgrading their software,” he said. “So they’re very open for being hacked at any point.”
A recent study shows the hotel industry is especially open for being hacked.
 
“The main reason is they’re such a central hub for where people run their cards,” Jones said.

 
Recent studies show hackers steal credit card data from hotels more than any other industry. 

“It’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s when it’s going to happen,” said John Sileo, a Denver resident who had his credit card information stolen on a recent business trip. “The Driskill Hotel had an entire database of customer information stolen. Mine was one of them.”

“Because of the downturn in the economy, a lot of industries have stopped upgrading their software,” he said. “So they’re very open for being hacked at any point.”

A recent study shows the hotel industry is especially open for being hacked.

Ryan Jones, a data-security consultant with Trustwave, has been watching a steady increase in hotel hacking.

Trustwave found that out of all the hacking cases they investigated last year, 38 percent involved hotels, well ahead of financial services (banks) at 19 percent and retail at 14 percent.

Destination Hotels and Resorts, headquartered in Englewood, is just one of the major chains that got hacked.

This summer, they told guests at 21 hotels across the country that their credit cards might be compromised.”Because of the downturn in the economy, a lot of industries have stopped upgrading their software,” he said. “So they’re very open for being hacked at any point.”

A recent study shows the hotel industry is especially open for being hacked.

Ryan Jones, a data-security consultant with Trustwave, has been watching a steady increase in hotel hacking.

“The main reason is they’re such a central hub for where people run their cards,” Jones said.

Trustwave found that out of all the hacking cases they investigated last year, 38 percent involved hotels, well ahead of financial services (banks) at 19 percent and retail at 14 percent.

Destination Hotels and Resorts, headquartered in Englewood, is just one of the major chains that got hacked.

This summer, they told guests at 21 hotels across the country that their credit cards might be compromised.

For more:  http://www.thedenverchannel.com/money/25881609/detail.html

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Filed under Crime, Guest Issues, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Theft

Hotel Industry Employee Issues: Unions Unite To Highlight “Housekeeper Workloads” And Workplace Injuries (Video)

Hyatt housekeepers have been given excessive work loads in cleaning extra rooms to the extent that they are experiencing numerous work injuries. In addition, their exhaustion at the end of the work day is seriously eroding their family lives.

On Nov. 18, 2010 a protest was held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago to draw attention to this. Supporting the housekeepers (members of UNITE HERE Local 1) were some 50 labor and community activists, including CACOSH (Chicago Area Committee on Occupational Safety and Health) Director Emanuel Blackwell who declared “work should not hurt.”

To dramatize the excessive work load of the housekeepers, the protesters marched with mops and buckets up to the entrance of the Hyatt to explain that they were there to help the housekeepers do their work. They were not allowed in. One housekeeper brought some fitted bed sheets as examples for the management to consider instead of the non-fitted sheets the workers are forced to use, causing extra backbreaking work when making beds. When she left the sample sheets at the hotel, management had the police write her a ticket for littering. Length – 7:28. Produced by Labor Beat. Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member of IBEW 1220.

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Hotel Industry Health And Safety Issues: Bed Bug Infestations Have Been Reported In All 50 States And Restricted Use Of Pesticides Will Make Eradication Efforts Difficult (Video)

Prior to World War I, nearly 30 percent of all homes were infested with bed bugs. Widespread use of pesticides such as DDT all but eradicated bed bugs for nearly 50 years. But with declining use of pesticides and the elimination of DDT, bed bugs have staged a comeback and are reported in all 50 states. There is even an iPhone app that allows users to track bed bug sightings. Dr. Jeffrey Levin of the U.T. Health Science Center at Tyler discusses bed bugs in this post to the U.T. Health Science Center at Tyler’s YouTube Channel.

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Hotel Industry Employee Safety Issues: OSHA Will Target Hospitality Employers That Exhibit “A Pattern Of Non-Compliance” With An Aggressive Enforcement Campaign

“…if OSHA believes that the violation at a particular hotel is indicative of a pattern of non-compliance, then it will launch investigations into other hotels owned or operated by the same company. This company “profiling” should put all hotels on high alert…”

“… In light of the significant penalties and the new focus on enforcement from the government and labor unions, it is important for hotels to take worker safety issues seriously and to have a plan in place should OSHA launch an investigation into their respective properties…”

The housekeepers allege injuries arising from their daily room quotas and argue that cleaning rooms and lifting heavy mattresses lead to accidents and workplace injuries. The complaints allege that workers are discouraged from reporting injuries due to fear of retaliation and that monetary rewards for having a safe workplace discourages complaints. The housekeepers recommend several solutions, including changes to fitted sheets, mops and other equipment used to clean a room, as well as a cap on their daily room quota.

Hospitality employers must be on alert of similar OHSA complaints at its properties. OHSA has begun an aggressive enforcement campaign against employers when it unveiled its “Severe Violator Enforcement Program” (“SVEP”) earlier this year. Under SVEP, OSHA will target those employers who disregard their obligations through willful, repeated, or multiple violations. This will lead to a significant increase in OSHA inspections at workplaces that not only have a history of health and safety violations, but also allows for nationwide inspections of related workplaces.

 Thus, Additionally, because OSHA investigators are more likely to approach local managers at each property, it is important that these managers receive proper training on OSHA regulations and how to comply with an OSHA investigation. Accordingly, hotels should take the necessary steps now to ensure compliance with applicable federal and state requirements through attorney-client self-audits.

For more:  http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=c08060f9-c1d2-4b11-ba11-e20e66a39ab3

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Filed under Health, Injuries, Labor Issues, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training