As tourism businesses wind down and plan for the next season, owners of tourist and hospitality enterprises across Kilkenny are being urged to examine four core areas of their business to ensure survival and success into the future.
“The Law Society of Ireland has identified four core areas of business that owners and operators across the spectrum of the county’s tourism and hospitality sector should examine to maximise compliance, visibility and prosperity,” explains Teri Kelly, Law Society of Ireland Director of Representation and Member Services.
Employment in the tourist industry
“In any business, having the right contracts and being up to speed on employment issues is a must. This can be particularly tricky in the tourism and hospitality sector, where employment is often seasonal, casual or on-demand, and the workforce can be described as diverse, young and featuring a high level of turnover,” says Ms Kelly. “Because businesses in this sector are hugely reliant on positive experiences for customers, effective management of employees of all types is as important as any other aspect of the business.”
The Law Society strongly recommends seeking the advice of a local solicitor as your trusted advisor to make sure this complex element of the sector is expertly planned and executed.
A tourist attraction or accommodation option that is highly accessible to visitors of all abilities can really stand out in Kilkenny’s competitive tourist market. “Taking the time to strategically develop a really positive experience for visitors requiring additional accessibility can really pay off in terms of online reputation as well as repeat business.”
Ms Kelly added, “It can be tricky to negotiate the latest developments in policy, legislation and standards in providing accessible services for tourists – particularly in terms of EU rules – but your solicitor will be able to analyse and advise on this issue.”
2018 saw the introduction of huge changes to data protection laws in the form of the General Data Protection Regulations. “GDPR is about much more than storing personal data safely. It is also important anyone facing a data request know how to handle it, especially within the timeframe of 30 days,” Ms Kelly highlighted.
Personal data is any information that can identify an individual person. This can include, but is not limited to, a name, postal address, image or anything relating to the identity of a person. “Essentially, the type of detail that is integral to any tourist business that operates on a bookings basis.”
Businesses not compliant with the new rules may face severe penalties, including fines of up to four per cent of turnover. If you need information on reviewing your GDPR policy, or handling an access request, the Law Society advises talking to your solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
“We have also seen recent high-profile examples of extreme measures being taken in the name of GDPR. Your solicitor will also be able to advise on what you don’t need to be worried about!”
Tourism in 2020 and beyond
The constant evolution and highly digital nature of the tourism industry means that business owners must ensure they are also evolving to meet their customers’ needs and expectations.
“When planning for the future, whether expanding, developing or diversifying a tourism business, getting the legal structure right is absolutely crucial,” says Teri Kelly. “The same goes for anyone who has spotted a gap in the market and is planning to start a new tourism or hospitality business from scratch.”
“One of the most important decisions is which type of legal structure to use; for example, sole trader, partnerships or limited liability companies. Different structures suit different types of businesses.”
Unique challenges; trusted advisors
“Tourist businesses present unique challenges that other businesses do not face. For example, they are firmly rooted in their local community but have a very global outlook. They are often very traditional on the surface but constantly evolving to meet the needs of an overwhelmingly digital customer base. Smaller law firms are very similar to their tourism business clients in this way, which makes the local solicitor an ideal source of advice to face challenges and assist with business planning.”
Ms Kelly added, “Your local solicitor understands the business environment and is uniquely plugged into a network of legal experts for whom no challenge is too big or too small.”