Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Tufano

Phil Tufano

Partner & Chief Operating Officer, Kokua Hospitality

Phil Tufano had dedicated more than 30 years to mastering the art of adaptability in the hospitality industry. Overseeing a company with a portfolio of eight U.S. hotels of both independent and global hospitality brands, he leads Kokua Hospitality with the keyword of “open mindedness” front of mind. It's a philosophy that he has fine-tuned throughout his career in managing and repositioning hotels, which he instills in his operations teams at the Chicago-based company with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Jacksonville, FL. “Leadership is what distinguishes mediocre organizations from exceptional ones,” Mr. Tufano says. “People will mostly remember how you made them feel over what you said. Associates perform for managers they like, and for organizations they respect and believe in.” During his time at Kokua, Mr. Tufano has nearly quadrupled the team from an office of three people when he first came on board in 2007, while establishing Kokua as an industry-respected, third-party manager overseeing properties for Chartres Lodging Group, one of the largest hotel ownership groups in the United States. He notably oversaw the conversion of the 25-year-old Ocean Resort Hotel in Hawaii into the Hyatt Place Waikiki in 2011. In the three years that followed the reflagging, Kokua nearly tripled the net operating income to make the property one of the most successful Hyatt Place Hotels in the brand. Prior to joining Kokua, Mr. Tufano served in a senior management capacity at luxury resorts, as well as urban, convention, and all-suite properties during the 21 years he worked under the Global Hyatt Corporation umbrella. He made a significant impact on sales at properties across the United States and the Caribbean, as well as on the people around him by always bringing an enthusiasm and motivation that he fluently expresses. “In general, people want to do the right things, perform well, and be recognized so they can advance in their careers,” he says. “As a manager, you need to understand what skills your team needs to develop, openly communicate this, and give them the tools and guidance that they need to grow. From my experience, attitude equals altitude.”

Mr. Tufano can be contacted at 312-219-8050 or phil.tufano@kokuahospitality.com

Coming up in September 2020...

Hotel Law: Protecting Guest Privacy

Every business is obligated to protect their customers from identity theft but unfortunately, data breaches have become all too common. In an effort to protect a guest's right to privacy and to safeguard their personal data, the European Union passed a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that could hold hotels legally liable for any breaches that expose a customer's sensitive personal information. Though the GDPR only pertains to EU citizens' data, any international business that mishandles their data can be legally responsible. Another legal issue of concern is the fight involving hotel "resort fees." Several states attorney generals have recently filed suit against two major hotel chains in an effort to litigate this practice. Their suit alleges that these companies are "engaged in deceptive and misleading pricing practices and their failure to disclose fees is in violation of consumer protection laws." The suit seeks to force the hotel chains to advertise the true price of their hotel rooms. There are several other legal issues that the industry is being forced to address. Sexual harassment prevention in the workplace is still top of mind for hotel employers-particularly in New York and California, which now statutorily require harassment training. Hotels and motels in California will also soon be required to train all their employees on human trafficking awareness. Immigration issues are also of major concern to hotel employers, especially in the midst of a severe labor shortage. The government is issuing fewer H2B visas for low-skilled workers, as well as J-1 visas for temporary workers. Though there is little hope for any comprehensive immigration reform, hotel lobbying groups are actively seeking legal remedies to alleviate this problem. These are just a few of the critical issues that the December issue of the Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.