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Posts from February 2013.

Our Portland, Oregon partner, Joy Ellis, updates us on what's "bugging" the hospitality industry. Thank you Joy.

It’s no secret that bed bugs are a stubborn and growing problem for the hospitality industry. All it takes to jeopardize a hotel’s reputation is one TripAdvisor or Yelp review that mentions bed bugs. And with travel on the rise, these unwanted hitchhikers keep showing up everywhere.

The Federal Communications Commission announced on February 20, 2013, that it intends to propose new rules to govern the next generation of Wi-Fi technology. This is an important development for convention centers, large hotel/conference facilities, airports and any other facility that struggles with Wi-Fi congestion because of the insatiable appetite of high-volume wireless users. The FCC’s proposal will include making spectrum available in the 5 GHz band for ultra-high-speed, high-capacity Wi-Fi known as “Gigabit Wi-Fi”.

The success of our hospitality practice through the years has relied on the skills and experience of a number of industry consultants and advisors. John Hutson of the Seattle office of Navigant Consulting is one of those advisors. John is an Associate Director in Navigant's Dispute, Investigation & Economics practice. John has a deep specialization in the hospitality industry and regularly speaks on hospitality damage valuation issues across the country. In light of John's upcoming business interruption presentation at the Hospitality Law Conference, we asked John to provide an update on damage valuation in the industry. In his post, John discusses how insurance companies are attempting to redefine and reinterpret “suspension of operations” for hospitality firms. Thank you John for your many contributions.

Many companies have heard all the chatter about the changes to the healthcare system under the Affordable Care Act, but really haven’t had the time to figure out what the changes mean to them as an employer. After all, something entitled the “Affordable Care Act” should really just focus on dealing with the out of control costs of medicine and healthcare, right? Oh, if only it were that simple.

One of the biggest issues in healthcare is simply that many people can’t afford the cost of insurance. Additionally, a number of employers do not provide insurance benefits as a part of employment. The ACA attempts to address this problem. Of course, this is not the only issue addressed under the ACA, but for employers, it is one of the major concerns.

The ACA obligations on employers are implemented in stages. The first obligation is already in effect. This requires employers who provide “applicable employer sponsored coverage” to report the aggregate cost of the employer sponsored coverage on an employee’s Form W-2 for the 2012 year. This means the Form W-2 that is issued in January for the prior year, should reflect the cost of coverage under any group health plan made available to the employee by the employer, and which cost is excludable from the employee’s gross income, or would be excludable if it were employer provided coverage. The reportable premium is not impacted by whether the employer or employee bears the cost of the premium. There is a special rule for self-insured plans. If you have a self-insured plan, you should seek guidance on the proper calculations of the applicable premiums. If an employer is required to file fewer than 250 Form W-2s, then they are not subject to this reporting requirement. More information on this requirement can be found in IRS Notice 2012-9. (Specifically, starting on page 6.)

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About the Editor

Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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