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Hospitality Industry Legal Update: “Warrantless Searches of Hotel Guest Registers”

In analyzing the searches and seizures from hotel rooms, the court recognized that while a guest is legally registered in a room,warentless searches the hotel room is a temporary residence and thus, just like their primary residence, the guest is entitled to the same protections under the Fourth Amendment to their guest rooms in a hotel as they would for their primary residence.

Many municipalities have enacted ordinances that authorize local police agencies to enter a hotel during regular business hours and request an inspection of the guest register to obtain information as to who is in the hotel, when they checked in and their anticipated check out time, how long the guest has stayed in the hotel, manner of payment and private information given by the guest to the desk clerk regarding their home address, car license plate and drivers license information. The municipalities argue that such ordinances and warrantless searches are necessary to help stop prostitution and drugs or to ensure compliance with the length of time requirements for motel guests. Many hotel operators have allowed the police agencies to inspect the guest registers without objection as they did not want to be subject to arrest or citation for not complying with the police requests.

However, some managers have objected and have been convicted of failure to comply with the inspection request. They argue that the police need a warrant to search the hotel registers and further, that the ordinances are not specifically limited to time, scope and duration of the inspection allowed or an opportunity to seek judicial review of the ordinance before being subjected to arrest and conviction for refusing to comply with the police agency’s request.

For more: http://bit.ly/1F1pS2t

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Hospitality Industry Legal Update: “Class Action Lawsuit Goes After Hotels That Fail to Disclose Resort Fees”

“Brian Kabateck, an attorney for Brin, said he has heard from many hotel guests who have groused about being surprised by resort fees on their hotel receipts. “This is really an insidious practice,” he saidresort fees lawsuit…Although the U.S. Department of Transportation regularly imposes fines against airlines that fail to disclose the full airfare, there may be too many hotels in the U.S. for the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the disclosure law on hotels, Kabateck said.”

If you have ever glanced at your hotel receipt only to be stunned to see an unexpected $28 resort fee, help may be on the way.

A Studio City man has filed a class-action suit against a Las Vegas casino, claiming that the resort is guilty of false and misleading advertising for failing to clearly disclose a mandatory resort fee at the time that he booked the room.

The practice is not unique to Las Vegas.

Undisclosed resort fees are such a prevalent problem that the Federal Trade Commission sent out a letter to 22 hotel companies in 2012, warning that their online reservation sites “may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms.”

For more: http://lat.ms/1HN6ia9

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Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “Hotels Are Getting Ready for Apple Watch”

The Accorhotel Apple Watch app will work in connection with a smartphone to manage reservations, access hotel information and property maps,apple watch and notify guests when a room is ready for online check-in. IHG’s Apple Watch app is a port of its popular smartphone language translator. It will convert the words a user speaks into the watch into 13 different languages and even offer phonetic pronunciation help as well as a range of common phrases.

At an event in San Francisco earlier this week, Apple released more details on its new watch and showed off a few apps. Along with displaying the weather, making calls (as long as your phone is nearby), and tracking your fitness, the watch will also support Apple Pay, a mobile payment system that processes credit card transactions without the need to swipe an actual card. Ahead of the event, Marriott announced it would be the first hotel company to use Apple Pay, and would roll it out this summer at select Ritz-Carlton, Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Edition properties in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago.

Apple Pay uses the near field communication (NFC) chip in an iPhone 6 or Apple Watch to communicate with specially equipped card readers, providing more security than old-school magnetic card swipers. While this could be a huge money maker for Apple, with analysts predicting that mobile payment systems will process $700 billion in transactions by 2017, it also offers hotels a new tool to measure guests’ habits and preferences.

For more: http://bit.ly/1OwUcqT

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Hospitality Industry Security Update: “New Security Mindset: Focus On The Interior”

“We continue to be more focused on perimeter protection than on internal controls and monitoring. It’s clear that attackers are already inside or could be anytime they want and there’s nothing you can do about it on the perimeterJason-Straight-LG…You would think external attacks cause all the damage. But study after study, two-thirds of attacks are mundane insider errors, lost equipment, technology failures, or lack of oversight over vendors.”

Chief privacy officer Jason Straight shares his insights on why organizations are struggling to stop the breach wave — and manage the aftermath.

Hackers keep on hacking, breaches keep on happening. The cycle continues, as major corporations now routinely get successfully compromised. A key element of the equation now is properly and efficiently responding to an attack as well as managing its aftermath.

The same old security missteps–falling for phishing attacks, not locking down sensitive data internally, giving users too much access, for instance–keep recurring. That’s because many organizations aren’t putting their security energy in the right places, according to Jason Straight, senior vice president and chief privacy officer at UnitedLex, which provides outsourcing services and support for the legal industry.

For more: http://ubm.io/1BTm7L2

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “How Tax Extensions and Regulations Will Impact Hotels”

IRS regulations generally affect all taxpayers that acquire, produce,DollarGuy-620x330 or improve tangible property but especially impact lodging facilities, as these require continual upgrades, remodeling, and refreshes. Hospitality finance executives should be alert to the numerous elections required with 2014 tax returns.

There’s no easy way to say it—the lodging industry will likely face tax challenges in the next 12 months. The past year was fraught with congressional bickering, partisanship, gridlock, and, consequently, no passage of any major tax legislation. There was plenty of drama too, including the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act, congressional hearings over lost and retrieved IRS emails, and so-called corporate inversions, with U.S. companies acquiring foreign corporations, swapping headquarters, and reducing their U.S. tax load. This was all capped off by a shift in control of the U.S. Senate after the midterm elections.

Through it all, Congress and the Obama Administration have talked about various fixes to the tax code, but reform has largely remained at the bottom of the to-do list. Now, the new head of the Senate Committee on Finance and the newly minted chairman of the House Committee of Ways & Means, say that tax reform is a top priority.

And at the insistence of the National Taxpayer Advocate, the IRS has recently adopted an official Taxpayer Bill of Rights. It’s not the Magna Carta but certainly a step in the right direction. As 2015 begins, the most important impact of 2014 will be the new rules that will affect tax compliance and tax return requirements, which either stem from the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (TIPA) or will be triggered by earlier legislation, rulings, and treasury regulations.

For more: http://bit.ly/1xyqPtC

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Hospitality Industry Risk Management Update: “Preventing Credit Card Fraud at Hotels”

Petra Risk Solutions’ Loss Control Manager, Matt Karp, offers a P3 Hospitality Risk Report – ‘Preventing Credit Card Fraud at Hotels’. 

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: “Marijuana: An Emerging Coverage Risk”

The federal government has greeted legalization by the states with benevolent indifference. The Controlled Substance Act categorizes marijuana as contraband for any purpose,medical marijuana including medical use, designating it a Schedule 1 drug along with heroin and LSD. The manufacture, distribution, or possession of marijuana remains a federal crime for which, if prosecuted, state legalization laws cannot be used as a defense.

The emerging legal marijuana economy will see explosive growth in the coming years. Insurers should be prepared to adopt policies that spell out coverage for legally grown marijuana plants and medical marijuana property. The cannabis industry is expected to grow to nearly $15 billion over the next four years. In states where manufacture, sale and use is legal for recreational purposes, legalization will have a profound impact on not only personal lines insurance, but also commercial coverage, workers’ comp, product liability, healthcare insurance and more.

Currently, 27 states have either decriminalized or legalized marijuana use in some form. Four states: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and the District of Columbia allow recreational use. In addition, recreational marijuana initiatives are expected to appear on the 2016 ballots in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. According to a recent Gallop poll, 51% of Americans now support full legalization. In 2014, Oregonians voted to legalize marijuana by a 56 to 44% margin. More Oregonians voted to legalize cannabis than voted to retain their incumbent Democratic governor or senator in the same election.

For more: http://bit.ly/1Mybsbq

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