This edition's issue - Guest data - who owns it, who can use it and for what purposes
During the course of a hotel management agreement negotiation there are many issues to be identified, negotiated and resolved. Some issues seem to come up more regularly than others and seem to take a disproportionate amount of time to deal with to the satisfaction of both owners and operators. In this series we will focus on a number of issues which fall into this category.
The last edition of the newsletter in this series dealt with hotel employees. In this edition we explore the fascinating world of guest data. This is the information that a hotel collects when a guest registers and subsequently stays at the hotel. It is usually stored electronically in some fashion on a computer hosted at the hotel and/or at a central facility under the control of the hotel's operator.
Hotel management agreements vary significantly in their treatment of guest data. Traditionally the guest data is available to both the hotel's owner and operator during the term of the management agreement and, perhaps more importantly, following the termination of the management agreement. In more recent times there has been a tendency on the part of some operators to stipulate that the guest data is effectively the "property" of the operator and as such is only made available to the owner during the term of the management agreement and consequently unavailable to the owner following termination of the management agreement.
In a recent negotiation we discussed this point. It was clear that if, following termination, the owner, say, wanted to do a mail out to guests who had stayed at the hotel during the period of 12 months prior to the termination then this would not be possible as the owner would not have access to the relevant guest data. A rather thought provoking issue.
Since we are based in Australia, we will approach the questions below from a broadly Australian perspective. Local laws relevant to guest data in other jurisdictions may vary the discussion on any one or more of the questions posed. The good news is, however, we have 17 offices in Asia and many more around the world to answer any jurisdiction specific questions you may have.