College & University Hotel Ownership Symposium – Key Takeaways

Goulston & Storrs PC

We recently had the opportunity to co-sponsor and present during the College & University Hotel Ownership Symposium (CUHOS), on March 4-5 at Harvard University. The biennial event, organized by Pinnacle Advisory Group, features data analysis, diverse perspectives, and valuable insights from seasoned hotel industry professionals with firsthand experience in on-campus hotel management. The event goal is to provide college and university staff responsible for the management and planning of their institution's hotels with an opportunity to participate in seminars and discussions that are crucial for the development and oversight of hotel assets.

During a panel discussion, we explored a myriad of legal issues, including tax structuring/UBTI considerations, key issues that involve hotel litigation, and legal decisions related to the extension of an educational brand to investment activities.

  • Tax Structuring for Hotels (UBTI): We explored applicable federal income tax implications for educational institutions owning and operating hotels and conference centers, and different ownership structures and their respective tax and business implications.
  • Hospitality Litigation for Hotel Owners. We discussed litigation trends affecting owners and operators of hospitality properties, including: wage-and-hour claims; federal and state class actions involving minimum wage requirements, overtime payments, tipped employees, and tips pools; disability discrimination claims and class actions brought by guests and “tester” plaintiffs under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and equivalent state laws; data privacy and other consumer-class action issues, including resort fees; employee claims of workplace harassment and discrimination continue to present litigation risk.
  • What’s in a Name? We reviewed key considerations in extending an educational brand to investment activities, including management distractions, allocation of internal resources, credit rating considerations, reputational damage, local political risks, and ever-present headline risk.

Additionally, several of our peers presented on topics that should be at the forefront of planners' minds as they engage in their strategic planning processes.

Rachel Roginsky, founder and owner of Pinnacle Advisory Group, outlined key takeaways from the event in this article for Hotel Online.

As is always the case with CUHOS, attendees and presenters alike left the conference with newfound knowledge and inspiration on how to plan for future success. The prospect of reconvening with industry peers at CUHOS to learn how this knowledge has propelled their projects to the next level is always gratifying. As you might imagine, we are already looking forward to the next one!

To avoid problems down the road, all options should be discussed early in the process with tax counsel experienced in working with non-profit institutions.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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