HFTP Connect – Hospitality Blog

FCC Tackles Wi-Fi Blocking

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By Koyulyn Miller, Paul Besozzi, and Monica Desai of Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP


The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) continues to flex its enforcement muscles, most recently focusing on companies that would block or hamper consumer access to free Wi-Fi services.

Just last year the FCC raised eyebrows by using a provision of the Communications Act, heretofore applied to limit use of phone bill call detail information, to find that two companies – YourTel and Terracom – failed to protect all “proprietary information” they may have collected on customers. This week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (EB) Chief, Travis LeBlanc, unequivocally emphasized to hospitality venues, e.g., hotels, convention centers and other commercial establishments, that Wi-Fi blocking is a “disturbing practice [that] must come to an end.”

This action, when combined with the FCC’s recent penchant for record-setting fines, should cause any venue that wants to require customers to use its own Wi-Fi services to take notice.

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EUs Ruling Against Safe Harbor Agreements Throws Companies in Limbo

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Early in October the ability to “personalize” our relationship with customers hit a road block for companies that do business in Europe and the United States. The European Court of Justice ruled against the 15-year Safe Harbor principles which were used as a framework for companies to transfer personally identifiable information (PII) from the European Union to the United States. In a business climate such as the hospitality industry’s that increasingly depends on customizing the customer experience to attract and keep loyal customers, this has put us all on pause.

In plain terms, data that is collected from European citizens in Europe currently cannot be transferred out of the EU. This ruling came about as concerns have grown that data that is transferred out of the region do not reside under the same protections provided by the E.U., which has largely been firm on safeguarding its citizens’ personal data.

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The Skinny on the State of Technology in Hospitality

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AC15-Blog-IconYou are making a tactical error if you stay in your knowledge “wheelhouse” at the HFTP Annual Conference.

The strength of this event is that we can attend sessions on topics of finance, technology, legal issues, human resources, ethics and personal development.

Therefore, I jumped into the “State of Technology in the Hospitality Industry” facilitated by Scot Campbell, CHTP of Caesar’s Entertainment and the HFTP Global Board. Scot was joined by Ted Horner of E Horner & Associates, Michael Levie of citizenM Hotels and Prakash Shukla of Handson LLC — and all directors on the HFTP Global Board.

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USALI, 11th Edition Implementation – Now Less Daunting

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AC15-Blog-IconI sent out the following tweet during the Money Matters track seminar today:

“This may sound funny to you, but … Ralph and Robert make me excited about accounting reporting standards. #HFTP”

My statement is only funny to my non-finance followers, of course. If you are active in HFTP, you understand what I’m saying.

Ralph Miller, CPA, CA, CBV, CHA, CHAE of Inntegrated Hospitality Management and Robert Mandelbaum of PKF Hospitality Research spoke on the “Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI); Update on the 11th Revised Edition.”

The presentation was more exciting than the title.

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Be Present, Stay Engaged

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AC15-Blog-IconThere has been an overarching theme to the conference this year: Be Present.

At the Leadership Breakfast, Joel Zeff urged us to pay attention and support each other.

During the Opening Keynote, Mark Scharenbroich phrased it this way: “Must be present to win.”

In keeping with this spirit, one of the track themes today was “The Personnel Factor.” Topics cover strategies for career growth, as well as interacting with colleagues from multiple generations. Again, the best advice centers around staying involved and aware.

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What are the Controller’s and CFO’s Roles in Data Security?

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Computer NetworkWe’ve all read the news about data breaches. The financial consequences and reputation damage have been widely reported.  As the ones who watch over the company’s financial performance, controllers and CFOs must manage all components that impact the bottom line and that includes corporate data.5 Practical StepsSecurity industry experts state that data breaches are unavoidable.  It’s not a question of “if” companies will become victims of a data breach, but “when.” However, there are five practical steps a business can take to help protect against data breaches and mitigate the potential harm in the event of a breach.

  1. Perform an inventory

It is critical to inventory the locations that store personally identifiable information (PII).  PII is defined as information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, a specific person.  Determine which PII your business requires, what data is collected, how the data is secured and who has access to the data and under what circumstances.  Basically – you can’t protect what you don’t know you have.

  1. Encrypt computers

It is a best practice to encrypt all laptops and publicly accessible desktop computers. Encryption doesn’t prevent intrusion, but it does make the data unreadable and unusable by an intruder.  Encryption software is affordable and highly effective in protecting data.  Consider using a data encryption method that is FIPS certified (Federal Information Processing Standard), which means it has been certified for compliance with federal government security protocols. Read More »

Gearing Up for the 2015 Annual Convention and Tradeshow

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AC15-Blog-headI look at the calendar to see what October brings:• Operating and Capital Budget preparation is in full swing• End of Quarter reporting requirements have tight deadlines• Year-end projections are needed, again and againAC15-Blog-Icon• We are at our peak business level• Preparations begin for our External Audit• Heavy lifting begins on the annual Halloween Party at my house (hey, real life matters!)It is the busiest time of year, by far.And yet, attending the HFTP Annual Conference in Seattle from October 21-24 might be the most important thing I do this month. How can that be? Read More »

Part 3: How to Bring More Hospitality Financial Leadership Into Your Hotel

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Leadership7) The How To vs. The Want To?The business of managing the hotel finances is not terribly technical or complicated. What makes it challenging is that it’s usually a large job involving many people. The communication system in the hotel is the key to both smooth management and predictive financial results. This is the how to. So if the hotel finances are not a complicated matter, why is it such a challenge in so many hotels? The answer lies in the want to.Most leaders in the hotel don’t want to be managing numbers. They typically didn’t get into the hotel business with the idea that they would be business people with forecasts and budgets. They’re “people people”; artists and creators. They now find themselves in roles with responsibilities to get the numbers done and they don’t like it. Read More »

Part 2: How to Bring More Hospitality Financial Leadership Into Your Hotel

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LeadershipHere is part two of David Lund’s Top Ten Blog on “How to Bring More Hospitality Financial Leadership Into Your Hotel.”4) Talk about Agreements, Not ExpectationsExpectations. I hear this word from almost all GMs, controllers and hotel executives. It’s the wrong word and it’s not an effective way to manage.So here is the thing with expectations. Human beings don’t like having expectations placed on them. We actually really don’t like it and most of the time we revolt against others’ expectations at work and in our personal lives.Just imagine someone expecting you to do something. How does that sit with you? Not well, I bet.So why do we place expectations on people at work? Why do we place expectations on them as it relates to being responsible for numbers? Do we think it’s because it’s their job and they should just do it? Probably. But it’s not effective. There is a much better way to manage.It’s called agreements. Make agreements with the people who work with you. In the case of the numbers, ask your managers to take this on and tell them you will support them and give them resources to master this. You will be there when they have challenges; you will be there to help celebrate the successes; and you will lead the hotel through agreements with your team. Humans love to honor agreements and they push back on expectations.Check out your language. What do you communicate?Agreements are creative and a lot more fun than expectations. They are also a lot more effective. Especially when it comes to managing the numbers. Read More »

Part 1: How to Bring More Hospitality Financial Leadership Into Your Hotel

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LeadershipYou have the ability to increase the way you lead your team financially, to create an environment that has your managers working together on the “business” of running your hotel.I invite you to read my Top 10 list for hotel financial leadership success and open up to the opportunity you have to improve the financial communication in your hotel and brand. If you do this, you will have a more engaged leadership team, your hotels will make more money, your leaders will love you, and everyone will have more fun. Read More »

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