What Legal Problems Could Hotels Encounter
Managing Legal Issues in Hotels
By Victoria Lim, Freelance Lifestyle Writer
People often underestimate the importance of the legal sector in tourism-oriented industries. Sure, it's easy to imagine a retailer being sued for false advertising or a service provider for not delivering on the contract, however, what can one sue a hotel over? You'd be surprised actually. With this in mind, here are a few common legal problems that hotels encounter on a regular basis, which are vital for those who either hope to start out in this industry or closely collaborate with a management of a hotel.
- Hotel hygiene and overall maintenance
Probably the most common issue that most hotels are facing are, in a way, related to the environmental health. When cleaning a hotel, there is just so much to cover, that some hotels are forced to enforce not-so-safe policies or employ people who are not well-trained when it comes to following environmental regulations. This could turn into a proper nightmare upon the arrival of the health sanitary inspector. Nonetheless, no matter how clean your hotel is, the area you want to focus most of your attention is definitely your kitchen. A slip-up here can run you out of business in no time.
Moreover, if the hotel has a pool area that is not properly maintained, they might become responsible for the safety of their visitors. Contrary to popular belief, a notice that your clients are swimming at their own risk is not enough to protect you from a lawsuit. This is also why you badly need a reliable lifeguard on your staff.
- In-house theft
One of the first major issues that everyone points at when it comes to the issue of hotel security, is the one of in-house theft. The problem with hotel staff is that not a lot of venues can brag about the same full-time team for a prolonged period of time. Most commonly, these are seasonal workers or even people on immigration visas. This brings us to the issue of the reliability of your hotel's staff, which is not a matter to be looked down upon. In order to prevent this, do a background check when hiring and, when bringing people from abroad, make sure to have a reliable law firm experienced in both criminal and immigration law.
Keep in mind, however, that there is a limit to the hotel's liability in this situation. For instance, if a valuable item is lost due to the hotel's negligence, or failure to take reasonable care of your assets, they might be responsible for the full value of the items stolen. On the other hand, if this was not the case, a client might not be able to get a full dollar amount of the item stolen in return.
- Physical crimes
Apart from the in-house theft, you will also face the issue of the outsider crime. What this means is that a third party walks into your hotel and endanger your guests. This happens due to the fact that tourists are usually deemed as a perfect pray for criminals, due to the fact that they don't know local laws and customs, don't know which neighborhoods to avoid and barely even speak the language.
Needless to say, in some regions of the world (even touristic epicenters) terrorist activities are also considered as a massive threat. In order to protect your hotel from these issues, you need to hire a reliable security team, as well as invest in a powerful surveillance system. This alone can, at times, act as a deterrent.
On the other hand, a hotel is not responsible for any of these, unless it is located in a high-crime area and failed to invest in safeguards. Another loophole happens if they should have anticipated the crime and did nothing to prevent it. The latter scenario is incredibly rare and highly unlikely to prove in the court of law.
- Identity theft
The problem with checking into a hotel lies in the fact that you need to give a lot of sensitive information in order to submit a reservation. This includes your credit card number and, upon the arrival, even your ID. The problem is that most hotels keep this information in digital form, which makes them into a massive target for hackers all over the globe. Unfortunately, most smaller hotels don't have the infrastructure to fend-off this threat. Nonetheless, failure to protect their client's confidentiality can still be interpreted as their fault. In order to prevent this from ever becoming an issue, you might at least look for a decent encryption software.
At the end of the day, there are many other things that a hotel might get sued over. For instance, a damage to a guest's vehicle that happened due to the bad handling or lack of adequate protection can also be a reason for a lawsuit. So can a person who hurt themselves while at a hotel, although this mostly depends on specific circumstances. All in all, every hotel needs at least some form of legal protection or an expert on their retainer.