They identified seven concerns on hotel general counsels’ radars: 1. Franchisor-franchisee relationships Panelists are eyeing closely whether a decision by the Office of the General Counsel of the United States National Labor Relations Board to name parent companies as joint employers of their franchisees (and thus liable for the acts of their franchisees) will be upheld. If it is, the hotel franchising business arrangement could change dramatically. As a real estate investment trust, however, Host Hotels & Resorts wouldn’t be affected, Abdoo noted. 2. Management contracts Terms are becoming not only shorter but more flexible, as owners continue to demand more recourse when operators don’t perform as desired. That latter scenario has been the source of several highly publicized “midnight raids” in recent months, in which an owner ousts a management company by surprise. Third-party manager Interstate has not been subject to such a raid, Bennett said. 3. OTA discounting “Rates should be consistent all across the board,” Starwood’s Siegel said. “(Online travel agencies) should not charge less than what the hotel company charges.” Such rate parity is a fair and legal practice, despite recent claims of price fixing and antitrust complains. Siegel pointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Judge Jane Boyle, who on 27 October dismissed an antitrust case with prejudice against three OTAs. In a class-action lawsuit against Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz as well as a number of hotel companies including Starwood, the plaintiffs claimed they had paid inflated rates for rooms booked online. Boyle denied a motion to refile the complaint after throwing out the case in February 2014, at which time she said, “The well-pled facts do not plausibly suggest that defendants entered into an industrywide conspiracy,” according to a Bloomberg report. Get the full story at Hotel News Now