5 Must Do’s for Every Hospitality Operator in 2015

When a new hospitality-related regulation is enacted, our organization is often the first call restaurant and bar owners make. Here is our top five list from this year.

1. Be Ready to Accept EMV Credit Cards by October 2015

Last year, president Obama signed the BuySecure Initiative which requires credit card companies to discontinue traditional magnetic strip credit cards in favor of EMV chip cards. The embedded chip is used to verify the credit card and a pin number (or in some cases a signature) to validate the cardholder.

In theory, this extra layer of security makes it more difficult for criminals to use counterfeit or stolen credit cards. It is imperative that restaurant owners be ready to accept the EMV cards by October 2015 because that is the month when liability shifts from the credit card issuer to the merchant in cases of fraud. Up until now, the law has stated that the credit card issuer (like Visa and Mastercard) is liable for any loss resulting from credit card fraud.

The liability shift in October 2015 will make merchants responsible for fraud resulting from a transaction at their establishment in which an EMV card was used and the merchant did not have a system in place to accept EMV payments. For restaurants, this means that if your POS payment system does not accept EMV payments, you could be held liable for thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges after October 1, 2015.

The National Restaurant Association conducted a webinar on the topic of EMV Credit Cards. Find the recorded webinar under the Events tab of their website, www.restaurant.org

2. Go Beyond Mobile Optimized – Your Website Should Be Responsively Designed

More than 70% of adults say they regularly use a smartphone or tablet, so understanding how your restaurant’s website will display on a variety of formats is critical. Having your site be “mobile friendly” or even “mobile-optimized” may no longer be enough.

A site based on responsible design is able to detect a specific browser type or device type and automatically orientate itself based on the screen size of the device. Look at your restaurant’s website on a computer, smart phone, and tablet and then invest with a website designer that knows how to make everything work together!

3. Don’t Make it Hard to Get Money – Adopt ApplePay™

ApplePay™ has been impacting the market since its release in October 2014, giving consumers with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus the ability to quickly and easily pay with one touch. The growth of this payment system is inevitable as ApplePay uses a unique Device Account Number instead of an actual credit or debit card number so that information is never exposed.

When consumers use ApplePay to make a purchase, the Device Account Number, along with a transaction-specific dynamic security code, is used to process the payment and the debit or credit card numbers are kept out of the mix. If you have not yet started to accept ApplePay – 2015 is the year you should at least start to understand how to accept this new method of payment.

4. Music Sets the Mood But You Have to Pay the Price. Make Sure You’re Licensed

Whether a restaurant or bar is seeking to increase table turnover, provide a soothing ambiance, or liven a festive gathering, music plays a crucial role. No resource has greater value when it comes to establishing a desired mood for a particular restaurant or bar setting. It may have never occurred to you, but if your business makes any use of copyrighted music, you’re expected to pay royalties to a variety of musicians. Federal law requires this and you can be fined for noncompliance.

5. You May Not Have to Offer Coverage, But You Do Have to Inform Employees of ACA Exchange

For many restaurants, complying with the Affordable Care Act requirements feels like hitting a moving target. Your obligations to offer coverage, as well as any potential tax credits or penalties, vary according to the number of full time employees you have. However, there is one compliance rule that EVERY restaurant must follow.

You must inform EVERY new employee – full-time, part-time or seasonal – of your intent to either offer or not offer health insurance and let them know they have options on the healthcare exchange – within 14 days of hire. The Department of Labor has provided two sample notices which employers may use to comply with this regulation. One notice is for employers who do not offer a health care plan and the second for employers who offer a health care plan. Check their site at www.dol.gov.

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