Immigration Officers Won’t Get Guest Lists Anymore, Motel 6 Says
Immigration Officers Won’t Get Guest Lists Anymore, Motel 6 Says:-Motel 6, one of the largest hotel chains in the United States, has introduced a policy forbidding its locations from sharing information on its guests with law enforcement unless they are compelled to.
The policy comes in the wake of the revelation last week that employees at some Motel 6 locations in the Phoenix area regularly handed over information on hotel guests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, prompting some to be detained and deported.
Locations will give guest lists to the authorities only if it is compulsory, said Raiza Rehkoff, a spokeswoman for G6 Hospitality, the Texas-based parent company of Motel 6. She cited subpoenas, warrants and imminent threats to public safety as exceptions to the rule.
It is not illegal for hotels to turn over guest information but the expectation of privacy by guests is standard across the industry, according to Rosanna Maietta, the senior vice president of communications and public relations for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the national association representing all segments of the lodging industry, who said that no guest information should be turned over unless law enforcement requires it. But hotel brands aren’t consistent in expressing their policies.
Hilton, which includes Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Hampton, said that its policy is to not share information with law enforcement unless compelled to, but InterContinental Hotels Group, which includes Candlewood Suites and Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, would only say that it abides by all laws, including privacy laws.
The announcement by Motel 6 is the second attempt by the company to address the issue. Though G6 released a statement last week apologizing for the practice and said that senior management had not approved it, human rights groups, lawyers, comedians and the general public took to social media to express their outrage.
The Houston-based accident lawyer Rogelio Garcia was among those on Twitter who played off the brand’s tag line, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
Maybe this is what MOTEL 6 meant by “We’ll leave the lights on for you”😎 pic.twitter.com/3Dg4S2xjlj
— RogelioGarcia Lawyer (@LawyerRogelio) September 14, 2017
On both Facebook and Twitter, the American Liberties Civil Union asked readers to reach out to the group if they are aware of this practice happening again at Motel 6 or elsewhere. The group’s Sept. 15 Facebook post read, “If you hear of Motel 6 or any other businesses reporting guests to ICE, please contact your ACLU affiliate.”
This new policy may have come too late to contain damage to the brand. There is already a dip in interest in the hotel, according to the data from the Conversion Wizards, a web analytics and consulting company based in Bellevue, Wash. Visitors to Motel 6’s site are down after a temporary spike when The Phoenix New Times first reported the incident on Sept. 13.
New policies and expressing concern doesn’t cut it when it comes to restoring positive brand image, said Pam Moore, the co-founder of the social media training and consulting company Marketing Nutz. “The negative chatter on social media is definitely hurting the perception of the brand, especially because what happened is such a human issue,” she said.
Rummy Pandit, the executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University in New Jersey, thinks that the company’s business could take a hit. “I think customers are going to be hesitant to stay at a Motel 6 because they’ll have concerns about their privacy being violated,” he said.
While what happened in some Phoenix-area Motel 6 locations has riled the public and human rights groups such as the A.C.L.U., the hotel staff who handed over the guest information to ICE were not acting illegally, said Andrew J. Maloney, a lawyer at the New York City law firm Kreindler & Kreindler who specializes in hospitality law.
“There is nothing illegal about a hotel giving out information to law enforcement about its guests, including who is staying there and what they are doing,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s illegal for police to require the hotel for that information without a warrant.”