Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “Does YOUR Website Have to be Accessible Under the Americans with Disabilities Act?”

Clearly, it has no brick-and-mortar store that we can shop in so the answer should be “no ADA coverage for its website.” That is exactly what happened in its California district court case (Cullen).Handicap-Assessible1-300x225 But, in Massachusetts, the district court case (National Association of the Deaf) went the other way. Law school professors call such cases “outliers,” but in the courtroom today’s outlier sometimes becomes tomorrow’s conventional wisdom.

Is the internet a place of public accommodation: a virtual town hall or a virtual shopping mall or a virtual movie theater? Courts still struggle with that.

Physicalist courts say that the ADA requires a physical location. Ouelette v. Viacom, No. cv 10-133-M-DWM-JCL, 2011 WL 1882780 (D. Mont. March 31, 2011) (no ADA claim re YouTube); Noah v. AOL Time Warner, 261 F. Supp. 2d 532 (E.D. Va. 2003) (same re: chat room); Earll v. eBay, Inc., No. 5:11-cv-00262-JF (HRL), 2011 WL 3955485 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 7, 2011) (same: no ADA claim re eBay); Cullen v. Netflix, Inc., 880 F. Supp. 2d 1017 (N.D. Cal. 2012) (same: no ADA claim re Netflix); Jancik v. Redbox Automated Retail, LLC, No. SACV 13-1387-DOC, 2014 WL 1920751 (C.D. Cal. May 14, 2014) (same: no ADA claim re redboxinstant.com).

Virtualist courts say there are places in the heart and in the mind too. Those courts proclaim that the core meaning of the ADA is that “the owner or operator of a store, hotel, restaurant, dentist’s office, travel agency, theater, Website, or other facility (whether in physical space or in electronic space …) that is open to the public cannot exclude disabled persons from entering the facility and, once in, from using the facility in the same way that the nondisabled do.”

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “New Year, New Challenges: What Hospitality Employers Need to Know”

As state and federal budget cuts tend to wane, the Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to step up enforcement against hospitality employers in the coming year. restaurant workerBecause the DOL considers the hospitality industry as a “fissured” industry, owners, franchisors, franchisees and management companies should be prepared to deal with inquiries, particularly in the areas of tipped employees and the misclassification of employees.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hospitality sector added 321,000 additional jobs in 2014. With all those new employees, as well as the continued addition of jobs we expect to see in coming year, here are our top predictions for labor law issues that will play a vital role in the hospitality industry in 2015.

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “Sometimes It’s OK to Break the Rules”

Training helps, but the real issue is employee selection and retention. It’s important to hire people with a deep desire to serve, even if that means breaking the rules once in awhile. On the other side of the coin,Happy travelers GMs and department heads must have the smarts and the empathy to know when to applaud and reward a rule-breaking employee and when to coach a worker who might have stepped over the boundaries of acceptable empowerment

One of my favorite guilty-pleasure movies is “That Thing You Do,” a Tom Hanks-directed tale of the rise and fall of a one-hit-wonder singing group in the 1960s. In one scene, the band arrives in Hollywood to appear in a movie, and as they emerge from a cab in front of the since-closed-and-demolished Ambassador Hotel, the doorman greets them.

“Hi, my name is Lamarr, and this is my hotel,” he tells the new guests.

It was a throwaway line in a confection of a movie, but it demonstrates the important principal of empowerment that remains highly relevant in the hotel industry.

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Hospitality Industry Risk Management Update: “Front Desk Best Practices”

Petra Risk Solutions’ Loss Control Manager, Marco Johnson, offers a P3 Hospitality Risk Report – ‘Front Desk Best Practices’. 

P3 (Petra Plus Process) is the Risk Management Division of Petra Risk Solutions – America ’s largest independent insurance brokerage devoted exclusively to the hospitality marketplace.

For more information on Petra and P3 visit petrarisksolutions.com or call 800.466.8951.

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Hospitality Industry Legal Update: “House Passes Terrorism Insurance Bill”

“Already, companies are having trouble getting terrorism insurance, and many companies that had terrorism insurance have now lost it because thereJ_Mq7AKo were clauses written into their policies that said if TRIA is not there, they do not have the insurance coverage,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.).

The House voted to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) on Wednesday, sending the legislation to the Senate.

The measure passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 416-5, with one lawmaker voting present.

Lawmakers failed to reauthorize the program during the last Congress, and it expired on Dec. 31, leading to uncertainty in the business community.

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Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “Going mobile: The tipping point is close”

Ed Higgins, vice president of Thousand Islands Insurance Agency in Clayton, N.Y., and vice chair at the Applied Client Network, says he believes that independent agents are missing out on the opportunity that mobile apps provide…businessman-w-laptop-apps-169-crop-600x338Thousand Islands Agency was an early adopter of the MobileProducer, the mobile-app version of Applied System’s agency management platform. For Higgins, the key benefit of the app is the ability to deliver what he calls the “Starbucks experience” for customers.

Four years ago, Apple trademarked the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” With more than 1.2 million offerings in the iTunes App Store—and about 1.4 million in Google Play—it would seem that the phrase is more true than not. However, only a few general-market agent productivity apps exist, and none have more than a few reviews from users.

“It’s a relatively small number of agents who are using insurance-specific apps today,” says Chad Hersh, senior vice president at The Nolan Co., an insurance management consulting firm. “Granted, a lot of agents use general apps on their mobile devices to the extent that many people do in their daily lives and jobs, but the penetration just isn’t there for insurance apps for agents.”

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “How Hotels Can Prepare for a Spike in Business”

While emergencies may force some on-the-fly thinking, citywide festivals, high-profile conventions, and major sporting events offer the luxury of time to fully prepare. Hotels make good use of those months—years, in some cases—addressing the situation from multiple angles,surge in business says Javier Rosenberg, COO, Americas, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. If the event involves public figures, security is enhanced to keep celebrities separate from fans. If traffic will be heavy, alternate travel routes are identified and schedules adapted to reach destinations on time.

Talk to anyone who has worked in the hotel industry for any length of time, and chances are you can uncover a story or two involving a surprise guest surge. For Robert Holmes, one of his most poignant experiences occurred less than two hours into his first morning manning the front desk at the Park Hyatt Washington D.C. in Georgetown on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was standing at my desk, and I saw all of these people coming in,” Holmes remembers. “I turned to my staff and said, ‘We’re going to get through this.’” Prompted by a bomb threat, the hotel across the street evacuated its guests to the lobby of the Park Hyatt. With flights suspended and the local community on high alert because of the attack on the Pentagon two miles away, visitors were seeking both rooms and solace. Guests who had anticipated checking out suddenly had nowhere to go, while newcomers needed a place to stay.

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Filed under Conferences, Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management