Is hotel rebranding the latest 2014 trend? Claire Hawkins, Chair of Garvey Schubert Barer's Intellectual Property Practice and new author to Duff on Hospitality, weighs in on the topic and offers her insights on the intellectual property elements you'll need to consider. Thank you for today's post, Claire! - Greg
I’m pleased to introduce guest author Sam Engel, from BrandVerity. BrandVerity provides services that detect online brand and trademark abuse for a variety of industries including hospitality. Sam spoke recently to members of our Hospitality, Travel and Tourism team at our monthly meeting. We’re grateful that Sam has offered to now share his experience and knowledge with our readers. Welcome, Sam, and thank you for today’s post. – Greg
Today’s blog post was contributed by Garvey Schubert Barer’s D.C. attorney and member of the firm's China Practice, Richard Gluck, based on original research by GSB’s Yi Zhang. His extensive knowledge of international business and collaboration between the U.S. and China is a great resource to the firm. We’re grateful to have him as a new author to the Duff on Hospitality blog. – Greg
On Monday March 3, 2014, a Multnomah County Circuit judge agreed with the Multnomah County Elections Director and brought a new hotel at the Oregon Convention Center one step closer to fruition. A Convention Center Hotel has long been desired by a variety of tourism and economic development interests who argue that such hotel will allow Portland to host larger events at the Convention Center. As long as those supporters have been around, so too have opponents of such a hotel, who argue that the economic benefits of such a hotel are overstated and may also harm their economic interests and should not qualify for public subsidies. In 2013, Metro and other local jurisdictions seemed to be coalescing around a plan that would bring the hotel to the Convention Center, but one aspect of the plan ran into a snag and ended up in court.
On February 5, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the “WaterSense H2Otel” challenge, a program encouraging hotels to implement best management practices for reducing their water usage. As part of “WaterSense H2Otel,” the EPA is providing technical assistance using webinars and other forms of outreach including case studies on the “lessons learned” from other hotels’ efforts to reduce water usage. The challenge is designed for any individual hotel with five or more rooms, as well as hotel management groups and chains. EPA explains that WaterSense H2Otel is part of the agency’s broader (multi-sector) “WaterSense” program to promote water-efficient products, services and practices in an effort to address ever increasing demand for water in the U.S.
Today's blog is a litigation update on the devastating North Carolina hotel carbon monoxide leak. Please make sure that your business and hotel guests are protected. - Greg
In a letter sent to major hotel chains, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai urged hotels to program their telephones to be able to dial 911 without first dialing 9. The motivation behind this initiative is the death of Kari Hunt Dunn, who was stabbed to death at the Baymont Inn in Marshall, Texas this past December, while her daughter unsuccessfully attempted to dial 911 for help. The Baymont Inn’s phone system required all guests to dial 9 before dialing 911. As a result, the daughter was unable to reach emergency services.
New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, has made waves in recent months by subpoenaing the popular “apartment-sharing” website AirBNB for information on more than 15,000 of the website’s hosts in New York City. The subpoenas were issued as part of Schneiderman’s campaign to enforce a 2010 New York law that took effect last year, clamping down on “illegal hotels” across the state. With the backing of tech trade groups and civil liberties organizations, AirBNB has now mounted a high-profile defense against these subpoenas. Meanwhile, other destination cities around the globe are taking steps to follow New York’s lead.
The U.K.'s Office of Fair Trade (OFT) is currently evaluating and accepting public comments on whether formal commitments proposed by Booking.com B.V. (Booking.com), Expedia Inc (Expedia) and InterContinental Hotels Group plc (IHG) sufficiently address its competition concerns regarding the online offering of room only hotel accommodations by Online Travel Agents. The OFT is soliciting feedback on whether the proposed commitments offer an immediate and effective means of injecting meaningful competition into the online bookings.
What these commitments will mean for pricing parity in the future remains to be seen. Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks ahead.
Don Scaramastra has provided an update for our readers on the status of the class-action involving online distributors and certain hotel operators with regards to antitrust laws related to online distribution. Catch up on the original post here and continue reading for an update on this topic. – Greg
On May 1, 2013, plaintiffs filed a consolidated amended complaint in the OTC/Hotel Booking Antitrust Litigation. The amended complaint formally consolidates the many different complaints that were consolidated before the federal district court in Dallas last December.
But the amended complaint does more; it names a number of additional defendants. Most are hotel companies: Wyndham Hotel Group, Carlson Hotel Group, Best Western, Choice Hotels, and Hyatt Hotels. But one notable new defendant, EyeforTravel, Ltd., is not. EyeforTravel describes itself as a global media company specializing in business intelligence for the travel and tourism industry. This post will focus on the allegations against EyeforTravel because they highlight issues and dangers different from those I covered in my last post regarding this case.
According to the amended complaint, EyeforTravel annually sponsored industry conferences that “became a forum where [unlawful] agreements were confirmed” and discussed. The amended complaint refers to brochures and announcements regarding these conferences, which indicate that topics discussed included “revenue management and price,” “rate parity,” “strategies for restriction of free pricing,” “how large travel suppliers are dealing with pricing pressures attributed to third party distributors,” “why rate parity is necessary,” “best practices for managing revenue in a down market and avoid rate erosion,” and the “dangers of chasing demand by lowering your prices.”
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.