SAN DIEGO—My Place Hotels of America will debut its guest-loyalty program, Stay Rewarded, at all locations June 3, said CEO Ryan Rivett during the closing address of the company’s 2019 convention here. Though the program is a little over a month from launching, guests can already join on My Place’s website. As of the end of the conference, around 7,000 people had pre-registered.
Rivett admitted several times in the past the company had felt close to launching the program, now about four years in the making. “What we learned through the process is that there will always be more [to consider], and we will need to continue to grow, but [we've] finally come to a point where we’re ready to get started.”
Besides giving members a way to earn points they can use toward discounted stays, the program also will give guests a platform to learn more about each My Place hotel and to communicate directly with the staff.
Sessions target avoiding legal troubles
Two conference breakout sessions yesterday addressed potential legal threats a hotel may face and how hotel owners can avoid facing a lawsuit.
Danielle Moore, a partner at Fisher Phillips, advises employers on labor policies and represents them when they’re being sued by their employees. “Lately that means I’m talking about cannabis a lot,” she said.
For hoteliers, the trouble can arise when an employer in a state where cannabis is legal drug tests a worker, finds evidence of cannabis use, fires them and that employee then sues them. In the cases Moore mentioned, typically cannabis is legalized within the state, medicinally or recreationally, and the employee claims to have used the drug legally. Although in the past courts have sided with the employer, even when the worker had a medical prescription, she said, there have been recent cases where they decide in favor of the employee.
“So what do you do?” Moore asked. “You don’t be the test case. And it’s funny because when I used to speak on marijuana five years ago, don’t be the test case meant continue to draw a hard line and don’t allow marijuana. Now don’t be the test case means consider it.”
Moore offered several other pieces of advice: at least look like you might accommodate the employee. By just considering the possibility employers can help their case; know your company’s policies, and make sure all your managers do, too, to avoid someone unknowingly spreading inaccurate information; and stay up to date. “This is changing every single month, sometimes weekly,” she said.
With all 50 states having laws related to data breach notification, data security is another area that can place hotel operators in hot water. Mic Daggett, an insurance account executive at Insurance Plus, said, on average, a data breach can cost $141 per record.
Daryl Buss of Shift4 Payments described three technologies related to guest payments hoteliers can use to protect against possible abuse: chip cards for preventing fraud; point-to-point encryption to keep card data from ever entering the merchant system; and tokenization (services like Apple Pay) which replaces card data with a random value a different company would then be able to translate.
Buss advised businesses employ these technologies, which he dubbed the “payment security trifecta,” and follow a set of best practices called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. “Companies that observe and adhere to the PCI standards and the payment security standards to the letter have not been breached to date,” said Buss.
Hotel in a box
Thanks to My Place’s “hotel in a box” approach to helping franchisees develop properties, Eric Myers, the company’s VP/sales and development, said the typical build only takes six to eight months. Sarah Dinger, SVP/brand management, listed some of this metaphorical box’s contents: preferred vendors, FF&E supply, civil engineering, consistent cost, architecture, brand resources and national contracts.
Myers; Dinger; Tabitha Cantalope, hotel operations team coordinator; Michele White, director/brand development; and Corey Haaland, director/construction and prototype management, gathered yesterday to discuss My Place’s strategy for supporting franchise development.
“The whole idea is to have everything there so that you’re not running around trying to find resources, trying to put everything together to get your hotel open,” Myers said.
The company also provides an online dashboard to help track development and guide franchisees on where they should be on a development timeline. Cantalope said the resource uses historical data to formulate those guidelines.
Myers described the company’s resources as a “living document.” He noted, “Everything changes every time we open a hotel and realize that, ‘Hey, here’s something we can tweak.’”