News for the Hospitality Executive
The DOJ's Latest Hotel ADA Sweeps Are a Wakeup Call
A Compelling Warning that Hotel
and Restaurant Owners Should
Commence a Comprehensive ADA Compliance Review
By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®,
July 2, 2010
ADA enforcement "sweeps" are just the tip of the iceberg
As discussed in the last article, the new ADA sweeps by the DOJ are just the tip of the iceberg for lodging professionals on accessibility compliance matters.
Today, we will talk with Jim Abrams, another senior member of our Global Hospitality Group®. Jim recently retired as the President & CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association, and he has advised hundreds of lodging operators about, and written and lectured extensively on, all aspects of accessibility laws that apply to the hospitality industry.
What other accessibility-related issues should
Jim Butler: Are hotels that receive DOJ questionnaires the only ones that need to be concerned about the accessibility issues covered in the surveys? What about other hotels and other accessibility problems?
Jim Abrams: We think that the DOJ's latest hotel investigations are a wakeup call to entire lodging industry. They are an important and compelling warning that every hotel and restaurant owner should promptly commence a comprehensive ADA compliance review of its property and its operations. Owners and operators are clearly being targeted by both Federal and State government agencies (like the DOJ) and by private litigants.Jim Butler: What are the major issues that a hotel should focus on in such a compliance review?
Jim Abrams: While there are a number of areas, I recommend an initial look at three major categories of issues:Jim Butler: So the bottom line is that ADA and accessibility compliance are now an urgent "must-do" item for every hotel and restaurant?
Jim Abrams: Yes, accessibility compliance is now part of the "triage" for hotels. But more importantly, I really believe that the hotel industry is missing an incredible opportunity. The disabled community represents a large, growing, and financially significant, segment of the traveling population. When I ask lodging operators what they have in their annual marketing plans to go after that important business niche, the answer is always "nothing." There are a great many simple and cost-effective ways to reach this market, and all hoteliers should do so. Your outreach to this market segment can also be an important policy for ADA compliance.
Jim Butler: What else is happening on the constantly-changing ADA front of ADA compliance that hotel owners and operators should know about?
Jim Abrams: First of all, the U.S. Department of Justice is in the process of taking action to formally adopt an entirely new set of accessibility building standards, as well as to amend its regulations in very substantial ways that will impact virtually every lodging establishment. For example, the new standards will require that most recreation facilities be accessible, and this will be a whole different area of compliance for hotels. I advise clients that they should review the pending new standards so that they can incorporate them as appropriate in all new construction and in alterations of existing hotels. For example, the allowable maximum "reach range" in the current ADA standards is 54 inches, but that will be lowered to 48 inches in the new regulations; hence, new construction and alterations should incorporate the lower reach range to avoid the possible need to retrofit after the new standards become effective.
And although we have referred to this earlier in the major accessibility areas that hotels must address, web sites are a hot area in accessibility. Simply put, accessibility laws require that web sites be accessible to individuals with various types of disabilities, such as sight impairment, hearing impairment, mobility impairment, and developmental and cognitive disabilities. And yet a recent survey of the web sites of 50 major hotel companies and 50 major restaurant companies revealed that virtually none of them were accessible.
The same goes for many other forms of "Internet presence," such as social media mechanisms. This means that those operators are not only violating the ADA and other laws, they are also failing to communicate their marketing messages to a large market segment.
Jim Butler: What resources do you recommend for any hotel or restaurant owner concerned about ADA or accessibility issues?
Jim Abrams: Great question! One of the best resources for hospitality issues on any subject - including ADA or accessibility - has to be the Hotel Law Blog at www.HotelLawBlog.com.
Then, coming soon will be another great resource. In fact I am co-author of an AH&LA "how to" manual about how hotels and other businesses can make sure that their web sites and "online presence" activities are accessible. Every business owner or operator should get a copy as soon as it is available--it will be available free to AH&LA members. It is called "Lodging Industry Primer for Creating an Accessible Web Presence."
And finally, Marty Orlick and I are always available for a complimentary
initial consultation to see if we can help anyone.
Jim Abrams is a senior member of the JMBM Global Hospitality Group® and the former President and CEO of the California Hotel & Lodging Association. Jim has advised hundreds of lodging operators about, and written and lectured extensively on, all aspects of accessibility laws that apply to the hospitality industry. For more information, contact Jim at 415.398.8080 or email@example.com.
Jim Butler is a founding partner of JMBM and Chairman of its Global Hospitality Group®. Jim is one of the top hospitality attorneys in the world. GOOGLE "hotel lawyer" and you will see why. JMBM's troubled asset team has handled more than 1,000 receiverships and many complex insolvency issues. But Jim and his team are more than "just" great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. For example, they have developed some unique proprietary approaches to unlock value in underwater hotels that can benefit lenders, borrowers and investors. (GOOGLE "JMBM SAVE program".) Whether it is a troubled investment or new transaction, JMBM's Global Hospitality Group® creates legal and business solutions for hotel owners and lenders. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org. or 310.201.3526.
|Also See:||ADA Enforcement Sweeps Hit the West Coast; Exactly What Does this Mean to the Lodging Industry? / Jim Butler / June 2010|