Legal aspects of accommodation division of a hotel are legitimate and social concepts related to the treatment of guests. The concepts are intended to protect both hosts and guests against injury and damage, whether accidental or intentional. The accommodation manager oversees the division’s operations. In order to run the department smoothly, the manager must align his or her goals with the legal issues of the hospitality sector. There are various goals of the accommodation manager. One of the critical goals is to maximize the profit of the hotel. The goal can be achieved through keeping lawsuits to a minimum and ensuring that guests pay their bills. The second goal is marketing the rooms division. The goal would be achieved by handling guests in a polite and lawful manner. The third goal is enhancing guests’ experience in the rooms. The goal would be achieved by responding to guests’ requests promptly. The fourth goal of the manager is to safeguard guests, and their property (Morris, Cournoyer, & Marshall, 2008). This would help minimize legal suits against the hotel. Finally, the manager seeks to uphold the rights of the guests. This paper focuses on the legal aspects of guest accommodation division in a hotel.
Legal Issues Related to Hotelkeeper’s Protection in the Accommodation Division
A hotelkeeper is a person operating a hotel business (Twomey & Jennings, 2008). He or she is mainly motivated by profit that is achieved through smooth business operations. Sometimes, the goal is not tenable because of legal challenges and naivety of their legal protection. For instance, a hotelkeeper has a right to be paid for the accommodation he or she sells. Nonetheless, some guests fail to pay for it due to either reasonable or unreasonable causes. Regardless of the cause, the accommodation manager who works on behalf of the hotelkeeper in the division, needs to ensure that bills due are met by the guest.
The law permits the manager keep baggage and other goods belonging to the guest until payment is made (Goldman & Sigismond, 2013). After a reasonable period, the goods being held may be sold, and proceeds applied to the unpaid bill. The manager has to be fair in the process, and any extra proceeds from the sale of goods must be returned to the guest. There are conditions that restrict the manager from converting guest property. Some of them are: not selling particular guest jewelry like marriage rings, and necessary guest linen (Morris et al., 2008). The property of one’s partner should not also be converted when the debt is the responsibility of the other partner. The knowledge of the limits is critical in preventing lawsuits against the hotel. Additionally, the accommodation manager can protect the hotelkeeper by asking for payment in advance or for proof of ability to pay as it is lawful (Goldman & Sigismond, 2013).
The accommodation department also bears responsibility for the security of the guests’ property. Very often the guests’ property is lost, thus making the hotel compensate it. It should be the goal of the accommodation manager to protect the hotelkeeper’s finances used for compensations. The manager in consultation with the hotel management develops statutes that would limit the hotelkeeper’s liability. The hotelkeeper exempts responsibility when a guest has not complied with the instructions for depositing valuables or failed to use safe boxes (Twomey & Jennings, 2008).
Right to Exclude Non-Guests
In the common law, accommodation authorities are not due to admit non–guests, but a person who is either a guest or one having business with a guest may enter to make an inquiry (Morris et al., 2008). The accommodation manager can allow non–guests into the rooms to do business with the guests. This business would be one way of enhancing the guest’s experience. However, he may exclude those soliciting business (Morris et al., 2008). Other non–guests, who may enter the rooms and get involved in misconduct, could be excluded. The manager’s action will help maintain a serene atmosphere in the hotel. The manager would also allow non–guests to visit guests in their rooms. However, he needs to be careful as some of them would engage in illegal activities (Morris et al., 2008).
Non–guests are required to leave the accommodation areas or even a hotel if asked (Morris et al., 2008). If non–guests refuse to depart the rooms on the accommodation manager’s request, they are treated as trespassers. Consequently, the manager can apply acceptable force to remove a trespasser from the rooms. The manager has to be careful not to use unacceptable force as this would lead to litigation (Morris et al., 2008). The best practice is seeking the police help because; they are best suited to evict a difficult non–guest (Morris et al., 2008).
Denying the Guest Accommodation
The accommodation department is always ready to offer lodging to any guest whenever the guest arrives as long as rooms are available (Morris et al., 2008). There are circumstances when the accommodation manager may lawfully deny lodging to a guest (Morris et al., 2008; Fisher, 2011). Over time, courts have outlined some of these circumstances (Fisher, 2011). The manager would lawfully refuse to offer accommodation even though the rooms are not occupied for two causes (Morris et al., 2008). The first cause of refuse is that the room is being painted, refurbished, or repaired. The second cause is if the room is being held for reservations. The manager refuses to allow accommodation in these instances because allocating such rooms will lead to dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction will create an adverse image of the hotel, and the guests will avoid the facility next time.
The accommodation manager may also refuse lodging due to the underlying circumstances of the guest. The following are some of the guest’s events that may cause the manager to deny lodging them: criminal record, intoxication, disorder mannerisms, unclean and unkempt, suffering from contagious diseases, individuals of ill repute, and customers that refuse to pay the quoted price of the room (Morris et al., 2008). The guests who go to the hotels accompanied by non–service related animals can be refused accommodation (Fisher, 2011). The other cause of denying the guest lodging is when he or she possesses something that may cause harm such as firearms (Fisher, 2011). Finally, if the prospective guest possesses illegal drugs; the division’s staff would be in order to refuse them accommodation (Fisher, 2011).
Refusing the guests accommodation can facilitate achieving the hotel positive goals. For instance, keeping away visitors who possess pets or firearms ensures safety in the hotel (Fisher, 2011). Refusing accommodation to both violent guests and those suffering from contagious diseases will also contribute to safety of the hotel. Apart from security issues, the accommodation department is also expected to provide sanitation and safety in the rooms (Fisher, 2011). One way to meet the goal is to limit the number of occupiers per room. Therefore, the department would not accept extra guests into the rooms. An extra guest is a cause for refusing guest lodging. The implication of a safe and hygiene accommodation division indirectly markets the hotel. Marketing is another goal that the accommodation managers want to achieve.
Another accommodation manager’s responsibility is to obtain as maximum revenue from the unit as possible. Consequently; if people requesting accommodation are unwilling or unable to pay for it, they should not be accepted. In the case Morningstar v. Lafayette Hotel Co. in 1914 the plaintiff had taken meals in Lafayette Hotel but refused to sign his bills claiming that the charges were excessive (Gordon, 2012). Witnesses from other hotels told the court that he habitually declined to sign his bills. The accommodation manager would need to go a step further and assess the profiles of potential guests who apply for accommodation. The guests who have ill repute should not be given accommodation.
The accommodation department should safeguard the hotel from accusation of violating human rights (Fisher, 2011). Discriminating people seeking accommodation according on the grounds of age is regarded as human rights violations. However, minors are considered to be unable to pay for accommodation services (Fisher, 2011). In addition, they cannot enter into contracts. It would, therefore; be risky for them to be allowed accommodation because if they vandalize hotel facilities or fail to pay, it would be difficult to pursue them lawfully. Nevertheless, the law indicates that young people are entitled to hotel accommodations (Morris et al., 2008).
The accommodation manager must always ensure that guests are not denied accommodation wrongfully. Wrongful refusal may be based on race, religion, sex, or disability (Morris et al., 2008). Manager’s wrongful actions may cause aggrieved people open cases in the court of law. Eventually, the court may require the hotel to pay even expenses incurred by the excluded guest in an alternative property. The hotel would also compensate the aggrieved guest for illegal barring (Morris et al., 2008). The goal of the accommodation manager is to prevent such lawsuits. The minimal number of trials or their absence will enable the managers to further their goals of keeping the finances of the hotel sound.
Evicting a Guest
It is lawful for the hotel to demand payment upon registration, on a daily basis, or when services are rendered (Morris et al., 2008). The law also allows the manager to use reasonable force to remove troublesome guests. The manager should always ensure that the guest is not wrongfully and excessively evicted because the guest would successfully sue for damages resulting from humiliation (Morris et al., 2008). Today’s business is competitive, and eviction for nonpayment may be harsh. If prospective guests happen to learn of such incidence, they may avoid a hotel in question in favor of its competitors. Therefore, the accommodation manager may consider consulting a legal counsel in the event of refusal to pay by a guest (Morris et al., 2008).
The accommodation manager should always be aware of the demand for the rooms in every season. Overstays may affect income especially when there is a shift from low to high season. It is thus prudent for him to consult with the management on the guests’ limit of stay (Morris et al., 2008). Guests who take accommodation should be made aware of the limit of stay through the registration cards (Morris et al., 2008). In case of guest overstay, the manager will need to ask him or her to depart. However; some guests refuse, and the manager can remove them using acceptable approaches (Morris et al., 2008). Still, the manager would be required to protect the hotel from lawsuits and loss of image. It would be important to check the state laws about the eviction of guests who overstay. Additionally, some guests who may overstay might have influence on the public, and their removal may lead to the loss of some current and potential customers. The impact of eviction should be evaluated by the accommodation manager together with the management team.
The accommodation personnel have a prerogative to assign a guest any room that fits his or her package (Fisher, 2011). However, the department would accommodate the guests’ preferences. If the guests are accorded their preferences, they will perceive the general hotel experience to be positive. It would attract regular visitors, which is a goal of the accommodation manager. Regular guests spare the organization time and marketing expenses. However, guests would not have a legal recourse if denied their preference.
Accommodation departments in hotels discourage their staff from moving the guests or their property to other rooms without their consent (Fisher, 2011). The accommodation manager needs to instruct his staff to keep changes to a minimum. Changes would be necessary whenever there are compelling reasons. The personnel in the accommodation department must endeavor to inform the guest of the impending changes and provide an explanation. The factors that could prompt the change of rooms include the following: imminent danger, the need for maintenance, defaulting paying bills, or respond to guests’ requests (Fisher, 2011).
The Right to Occupy the Assigned Room
Hoteliers recognize the right of guests staying in the rooms they are assigned with minimal interruption from the accommodation personnel (Fisher, 2011). The manager would only permit the contrary under some situations (Fisher, 2011). Managers would seek to accommodate inmates who wish to stay longer, but they are not ready to meet the charges of the current rooms. Such situations would prompt the managers to assign them affordable rooms. In this situation, guests do not have the right to stay in the rooms they had been assigned when they checked in. Managers can improve room sales by offering the guests available alternative rooms.
Right to Privacy in Guest Room
The guests have the right to privacy in their rooms. There are only five exceptions when the accommodation personnel may enter a guest’s room (Fisher, 2011). When there is a need to conduct maintenance and repair. When there is an imminent danger such as the spread of fire, the accommodation personnel can enter the rooms to safeguard the guests and their property. Another situation is feuding among the guests in the rooms, and the hotel has to avert a crisis that may cause injuries. Finally, the accommodation personnel may enter the rooms under the law if the guests request them to go in (Fisher, 2011).
Protection against Illegal Searches
Illegal searches violate the right to privacy of the guest (Morris et al., 2008). The accommodation manager must always be informed of the law to avoid unnecessary liabilities. Given that the guest’s privacy is protected by the constitution, they would have to be asked for consent to search their rooms. In Stoner v. California, 1964, police investigating a robbery went to the defendant’s hotel and, in his absence obtained permission from the hotel to search his room (Ferdico, Fradella, & Totten, 2013). The police found items of evidence in the room incriminating the defendant in the robbery. The court held that the search was illegal due to lack of consent from the guest, thus the items seized were inadmissible (Ferdico et al., 2013). This case informs accommodation managers to follow the law; otherwise their search may be portrayed negatively by the public. Eventually, the hotel’s demand would decrease over time due to the lingering foreboding of similar illegal searches.
Negligence in Hotel Accommodation
Negligence is a failure to use reasonable care to the people that can result in injuries or damages to them (Von Bar & Drobnig, 2004). Cases of negligence would lead to injuries, damages, lawsuits and destruction of the reputation of the organization. Accommodation managers need to take preventive measures that would avert negligence. As the manager of the department, one needs to explore possible incidents of neglect, their impact on the victims and the hotel, and defenses for the actions in case of litigation.
Legal issues are common in accommodation divisions of many hotels. The issues are capable of denting both financial aspirations and the reputation of an organization. An example is wrongfully excluding non–guests from the accommodation facilities. The non–guests who are affected may ask for damages compensation in the court of law. Guests may also cause financial losses to the organization. In case the guests do not meet the minimum standards of the accommodation department, they can be excluded. They can also be denied accommodation or evicted from the hotel. The accommodation managers also seek to market the rooms division. This can be accomplished by allowing the guests their requests such as changing accommodations. Accommodation managers ought to acquaint themselves with laws related to the hospitality sector so that they can minimize liability for the hotel. The keen observation of the law by the managers would also help them to succeed in their careers.