While low cost and minimal fees are an appealing draw, rental websites are a classic example of a scenario in which one gets what one pays for, but in this case, possibly even less since the ownership of the site and what hoteliers are putting funds toward is not theirs at the end of the day. This doesn’t even take into account the additional shortcomings seen from rented hotel websites such as no search engine optimization, little service or support following the initial set-up, a limited number of site pages, photos or content and so on.
The hospitality industry has seen a number of agencies offering hoteliers a low-cost, low-budget website that they can rent. It has been widely noted that these agencies, which promise all of the bells and whistles associated with investing thousands of dollars and development resources, often leave hoteliers in the lurch after the deal is done.
Why? A number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is that agencies that rent hotel websites do not provide hoteliers with true ownership of their content which becomes problematic as explained below.
It should come as no surprise that a hotel’s digital assets should be owned by the property, however, the subject of digital ownership seems to be overlooked by hoteliers doing business with rental agencies. Hoteliers’ ownership should reach past the physical ownership of their property to include their digital content and here is why:
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To prevent any type of scam, Bragiel suggests that hoteliers establish reliable contacts within banks, businesses, and the hotel’s credit card processor. That way, if questions of authenticity arise, the front desk staff can turn to trusted sources. “When in doubt, we always encourage our members to check with the folks they have relationships with,” says Bragiel
It could be disguised as a typical guest interaction: Someone checks in under a corporate account that does not require a credit card, only for management to later realize the guest was not an employee of the company. Or, it could be someone whose credit card fails to go through, so he or she provides the clerk with a false authorization code. Both of these scenarios are common lodging industry scams, pulled by con artists who exploit front desk protocols to get a free stay, and oftentimes managers don’t even know what happened until the guest is long gone.
Fraud is a growing issue in the United States, with retailers losing $32 million in 2014 to credit card scamming, up from $23 million in 2013, according to a recent Business Insider report. For hoteliers to avoid becoming a victim of one of these cons, it is important that they not only recognize the signs of common industry scams but also learn how to be proactive in protecting a property from vulnerability.
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Videos can make or break a case. For example, in one case, video footage clearly showed that the plaintiff initiated the fist fight that was at the heart of his lawsuit. The video would have absolved the hotel from all liability, but the hotel failed to properly preserve this key piece of evidence.As a result, the case had to be settled instead of vigorously defended. Further, as digital surveillance systems continue to become the industry standard, judges have been less forgiving when it comes to claims that the pertinent footage was either lost or never preserved.
By the time a case reaches an attorney’s desk, all too often pertinent evidence either has been lost — or was never collected in the first place. California’s statute of limitations for a personal lawsuit is two years; consequently, an attorney’s first involvement in an incident on your property usually happens more than two years after the incident has occurred. If your hotel or resort has not properly gathered and preserved evidence, it becomes very challenging to recreate what transpired. Hence, it is imperative that; your hotel have formal written evidence retention policies; that first responders and security teams are properly trained on how to gather the evidence; and that hotel staff take steps to ensure that this evidence is preserved. Failing to collect and preserve evidence can turn a defensible case into a major settlement.
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Come out and see Brad Durbin from Petra Risk Solutions in the educational session:
Hotel Cyber Liability: Claim Trends & Cost Analysis
Last year’s Hotel Owner Conference was a huge success! So back by popular demand, join the California Hotel & Lodging Association, June 11-12, 2015 at the historic, state-of-the-art Silverado Resort & Spa, in the world-famous Napa Valley. The conference will bring together hotel owners, brands, brokers, CEO’s and other hotel industry experts for a conference all about networking, deal-making and high-level education.
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