9th Jul 2014

Smiling receptionist behind counter in hotel giving key card to
It gets forgotten in the modern day, but the term “hospitality” traditionally refers to both sides of the equation: The host and the guest alike, assigning certain obligations to each. It’s a term that viewed the guest experience as a partnership.

The same can be said for the relationship between the other aspects of the hospitality industry: owners, franchisors, employees, developers – everyone involved in hotel management agreements, franchise agreements, technical service agreements or license agreements. There are responsibilities on each side of every deal. And when both sides of those equations fall into a dispute, the best way to settle those disputes in the modern day is often mediation.

Best of All Options

Most contractual agreements in the hospitality industry go out of their way to prohibit litigation altogether, most commonly pushing all involved parties into binding arbitration. While arbitration is usually more efficient and less costly than litigation, it still puts the fate of the dispute into the hands of a (ideally) dispassionate authority who may decide things in ways unattractive to both sides.

If it’s an option at all, litigation is even worse in most cases, as it keeps direct control out of the hands of both sides while imposing a longer and more convoluted timeline and added expense.

Mediation in Hospitality

Mediation is often a good option for “pre suit” negotiations – when informal talks over a dispute have broken down, but no one is yet ready to “pull the trigger” on official actions. Mediation involves finding a qualified neutral with hospitality industry experience who can sit down with both sides, hear them out, and then guide a conversation. This leaves control shared between the parties and fosters a mood of cooperation.

This cooperation is mediation’s main selling point for the hospitality industry, which has to soldier on through disputes and continue to provide guests with an optimal experience, no matter what is happening behind the scenes. Mediation between parties keeps everyone on the job and working together while disagreements are ironed out, and shields guests from the noisy inner workings of a hotel or other hospitality venue.

Thus mediation helps everyone involved live up to their traditional roles and responsibilities in the ancient hospitality arrangement, while keeping the doors open and rooms clean. When compared to the other options, mediation is usually a much better fit for the hospitality industry, which explains its burgeoning popularity.

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