The Hotel of the Future: Legal Considerations in Hotel Innovation
Oct17

The Hotel of the Future: Legal Considerations in Hotel Innovation

Imagine having your luggage checked straight to your hotel as you alight from your plane, and the next time you see it will be in your hotel room. Lugging of bags from the airport to the hotel may become a thing of the past. Or imagine using your phone to access your room as well as attractions, instead of having to juggle multiple access cards and tickets. This “Hotel of the Future” may soon be a reality, if the recommendations of Singapore’s Hotel Innovation Committee (HIC) are followed. The HIC was formed in February 2016 to oversee the industry’s adoption of innovative solutions, following the recommendations of the Hotel Industry Expert Panel Report. The HIC has released its Best Practices Guide for Hotels in July 2017, and they are currently evaluating submissions received for the Tourism Innovation Challenge for Hotels, a crowd-sourcing pitch exercise. In this post, we look at the opportunities that these developments bring for the hotel industry and comment on some of the key legal considerations for the “Hotel of the Future”, mapped to some of the HIC’s recommendations. The innovation opportunity The hotel sector is well positioned to reap the benefits that technology may bring, driven by rising demand from increasingly sophisticated travellers, and greater applicability of technology in providing a more seamless experience. Innovation will be fundamental in transforming the hotel sector towards productivity driven growth. This is especially important in light of the increased competition as seen in the rise in the number of hotel rooms in Singapore in recent years. Between 2012 and 2016, total available room nights rose by nearly 30% from 12,477,908 in 2012 to 16,161,862 in 2016, which dampened revenue by approximately 12% (average revenue per available room dropped from $226 in 2012 to $198.8 in 2016). Key legal considerations 1. Privacy and data protection – Responsible collection and usage of information As guests connect via a growing number of digital touchpoints, hotels will generate and collect more data than ever before, whether via wearable technology (for in-house payments, room access and even entry to attractions), targeted marketing (such as providing tailored sightseeing recommendations) or loyalty programmes. With all of this data comes the obligation to comply with data protection laws – including, in particular, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Organisations need to have robust processes and systems in place. Not only is compliance a legal requirement but it is also good business practice. Taking steps such as being transparent about data collection practices, obtaining appropriate consents and keeping data secure will be key to building a trusted relationship with guests in the Hotel of the Future. Our...

Read More
China blocks iTunes and iBooks
Apr29

China blocks iTunes and iBooks

Apple is facing new challenges in China. Its iTunes Movies and iBooks Store were blocked earlier this month in what was a surprise move, given that it had only been six months since these services were made available to consumers in China. So why the apparent change in China’s attitude to Apple’s online services, and what does it mean for foreign companies in the content industry? What we can say is that this appears to be part of a broader move by the Chinese authorities to control the content accessed by Chinese consumers – and particularly foreign content. China’s new online publishing regulations, which came into effect in March 2016, have caused widespread concern among foreign companies because, in addition to greater conditions for foreign involvement in online content distribution and joint ventures, they appeared to require all online content to be stored in servers located in China. Under the new regulations, internet content publishers are also required to ensure that their content “promotes core socialist values”. China’s internet regulations are known to provide substantial room for regulator interpretation and the bigger question has always been enforcement. With this move, it looks like the authorities are laying down a marker to indicate that they will be ramping up enforcement against foreign companies. The stakes, of course, are high. China is Apple’s second largest market after the US and Apple has, until now, largely managed to escape the Chinese regulatory scrutiny that has hindered its international competitors in China. So what does this mean for international companies in the content distribution industry? It means that they need to think even more carefully about their broader China strategy and the structure of their local partnership arrangements. As part of this, those foreign companies should be looking to their local partners for guidance on navigating what is becoming an increasingly complex and unpredictable regulatory framework. But above all, it confirms that even the largest and most influential of international companies will not escape China’s growing focus on internet regulation. Indeed, it was almost certainly because of Apple’s size and influence that it was...

Read More