Clause:“Hotel reserves the right to distribute data and information about Group attendees as necessary and required for lawful business operations.”
Effect: In this day of data-privacy concerns, this language is downright shocking. Or is it? The hotel has to distribute some data and information about the group and its attendees to vendors, the corporate office, or other entities in its everyday operations in order to provide the goods and services that the group requires. Likewise, anti-terrorism laws have required hotels to provide information about hotel guests to federal agents.
As often happens, however, this language is overly broad and provides little or no limitation on the actions of the hotel. Concerns have been voiced in the past that broad language such as this could allow the hotel to sell attendee information like a commodity. Most hotels recognize that this would be a suicidal business practice. Still, broad language like this should always be clarified.
For example, the clause could be modified to say that data and information about the group and its attendees may be distributed if required by law, or it might limit the type and nature of information that could be distributed in a business context to aggregate information about the group. It might also forbid information such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers from being shared unless required by law.
Regardless of how the language is modified, strong indemnification language should be included that indemnifies the group from and against any liability by hotel for misuse of attendee information.
Tyra W. Hilliard, Esq., CMP, is a lawyer and speaker on legal, risk management, and ethical issues. Her law practice focuses on representing associations, nonprofits, and independent meeting and event professionals. Her Web site is www.tyrahilliard.com, and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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