3 ways to stay current with—and contest—local and state laws

Changes in local and state laws can have major ramifications on hoe you run your business, so stay aware and speak up. Photo credit: Getty Images/mguttman (You can’t make a difference if you don’t know what’s going on, so you need to stay current with these issues.)

The hotel industry has faced many challenges in the past few years: a shortage of available workers, increased competition from home-sharing rental sites and changing demands from consumers. But one of the biggest challenges has been from the barrage of new local and state laws (increases in minimum wages, scheduling requirements, ban the box, paid sick leave, etc.) that have forced substantial changes in pricing, operations and administration to accommodate these rules.

For those hoteliers dealing with these upcoming regulations, what steps can you take to help safeguard your organization and decrease their impact? Here are three that I suggest:

1. Be Informed

You can’t make a difference if you don’t know what’s going on, so you need to stay current with these issues. You can do so by joining your state hospitality association (and reading its government-affairs updates), subscribing to local business journals and following news organizations, agencies and periodicals on Twitter that report on the hotel industry.

2. Connect with Legislators 

Before city councilors and state representatives enact these laws, it’s essential that you explain how you could be affected. Set appointments to visit lawmakers in their offices, or when possible, invite them to come to your hotel, meet your team and discuss the possible consequences for all involved, including your employees, suppliers and guests.

3. Raise Your Hand

When regulations are being drafted, attend the stakeholder meetings and voice your opinions. If you don’t agree, or if you think all the important factors are not being considered, you need to say something. You will be able to provide valuable perspective as a hotel manager or operator, and your actions can greatly help to improve the end result.

I know what some of you are probably thinking: “I don’t think any of these rules are necessary, and there’s no way I’m going to be a part of it.” And that’s certainly one path you can take. But here’s where it will lead: just because you turn your back and avoid these conversations doesn’t mean they will stop. They will keep happening, the laws will eventually get passed and you will have lost out on any opportunity to influence the outcome. If you want to make sure legislation is crafted in a way to protect yourself and those involved with your organization, it’s crucial that you actively participate in the process, tell your side of the story and advocate for hospitality.

Patrick Yearout is the director of recruiting and training for Ivar’s & Kidd Valley Restaurants. He is a past president and active member of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers. He can be reached at [email protected].