Hospitality Aspirin Blawg

Mandatory Licensing Requirements for Colorado Managers Moving Ahead

Colorado House Bill 1277 was passed out of the Senate Local Government Committee on a 3-2 vote, moving on to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.  The bill already passed out of the House on a 35-28 vote.  Here is the gist of HB13-1277, courtesy of Colorado Capitol Watch:

Under current law, common interest communities and their unit owners’ associations (HOAs) are not subject to regulation by any state agency. The bill requires any person who manages the affairs of a common interest community on behalf of an HOA for compensation, on or after July 1, 2014, to meet minimum qualifications and obtain a license from the director of the division of real estate in the department of regulatory agencies. Licensees are identified as “community association managers”

Couple things to know about this bill:

  • Currently, there is no exemption for managers of vacation ownership properties.
  • An applicant must hold either a designation as a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), an Association Management Specialist (AMS), or as a Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) or any other designation as may be approved.
  • Applicants must also pass a licensure test, which will assess core competencies in several areas, including:
    • comprehension of legal documents and statutes that enable a community association to operate;
    • knowing the roles and responsibilities of a manager, owners, committees and the executive board;
    • steps for developing and enforcing community association rules;
    • effective collection of assessments; and
    • characteristics of effective risk management.

Passage will start what is expected to be an interesting rule-making process, which will need to culminate sometime in 2014 so licenses can be obtained by the July 2015 implementation date.

Crystal Ball - Hotel Performance

PricewaterhouseCoopers is bullish on hotels, forecasting 5.9% revenue-per-available-room growth this year at the Hotel Equities and Lender Perspectives conference earlier this month.  On a not-entirely-unrelated note, STR reported that the total active U.S. hotel development pipeline is comprised of 2,717 projects, totaling 320,750 rooms, the following week.

To put that pipeline report in context, it

  • represents a 9.2% increase in the number of rooms in the total active U.S. pipeline compared with March 2012, and a 19.3% increase in rooms under construction.  For possibly better context, STR also reports that the red-hot Asia/Pacific region has a development pipeline comprised of 1,788 hotels totaling 385,043 rooms.

Anne R. Lloyd-Jones, managing director at HVS, must have had some insight on the U.S. pipeline.  She predicted, at the conference, that hotel supply could soon become an issue for hotels, given the low cost of capital and positive industry fundamentals.

“I think new supply will come back stronger … than any of our forecasts indicate.”

Your 2013 Phrase to Know - Content Marketing

So while I am still explaining the acronym “SEO” to some folks (yes, I know), along comes the son of SEO – Content Marketing.  In consultant-speak, content marketing is explained as follows (compliments of the Content Marketing Institute):

Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

In other words, you are (hopefully) experiencing content marketing right now as you read this.

Generally, I consider this is a positive development. We have all been to those websites where all the effort went into getting you there, only to blow it by have nothing useful to say.  But execution is everything, as pointed out by this helpful warning.

The Great Pool Lift . . . What?

It has only been a little while since the new pool lift regulations went into effect, but I’m not seeing much in the news.  Ogletree Deakins reports that eight nearly identical lawsuits were filed by the same attorney-client tandem, where the disabled plaintiff reportedly robo-dialed several hotels to see if their pools employed lifts. If the hotel didn’t, the plaintiff claimed to be deterred from staying there because of the absence of a wheelchair lift.

But if you use the Google, that’s pretty much it as far as on-point search results go.  Perhaps more telling, as of April 19 variations on the search phrase “pool lift lawsuit” don’t yield any pay-per-click ads from plaintiffs’ attorneys.  I was surprised.

Travel Clubs - Some Regulatory Updates To Consider

When discussing compliance with Travel Clubs, I always advise them that what works today may lead to scrutiny tomorrow.  As a consequence, it’s a good idea to review your advertising and consumer-facing documents from time to time.  Now may be a good time for some spring cleaning:

“Up To” Savings Assertions

The Federal Trade Commission has broad authority to identify deceptive practices under  Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commissions Act.  Recently, the agency scrutinized savings claims – those that assert consumers can achieve a benefit of “up to” a certain amount.  The resulting report compared how consumers perceive the savings claim and what the advertiser is actually promising.   As expected, the consumer assumed the “best” result was typical, even when a disclosure was provided.  The upshot – don’t be surprised if the FTC expects advertisers to substantiate that a majority of consumers are likely to achieve the maximum results promised under normal circumstances.

Renewal Options

The Florida Attorney General is collecting $6.5M from a law book publisher that sold subscriptions with auto-renewals, without clear and conspicuous disclosures regarding the renewal terms.  Auto-renewals, also referred to as negative options, have gotten a lot of scrutiny since the FTC’s report on the practice in 2009.  Some seller of travel and discount buying club laws have specific provisions regarding renewals, but Travel Clubs should also make sure they comply with the following FTC guidelines when utilizing auto-renewals:

      • Disclose the material terms of the offer in an understandable manner;
      • Make the appearance of disclosures clear and conspicuous;
      • Disclose  material terms before consumers pay or incur a financial obligation;
      • Obtain the consumer’s affirmative consent to the offer; and
      • Do not impede the effective operation of promised cancellation procedures.