26 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – JULY 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM of the experiences from the epidemic, franchisors have become more conservative and rational, and thus they have raised more and higher requirements on franchise agreements. All these have impacted our workload. We have made compliance one of our top priorities. Starting this year, we will further strengthen our compliance work. With the strengthening of legislation and law enforcement in various countries and the changing geopolitics, as a multinational group, it is a big challenge for us to ensure compliance in different jurisdictions. JOANNE SIMPSON, legal vice president, Southeast Asia and Pacific Rim, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently with the resumption of travel ROUNDTABLE Image: Fer Gregory/ hotel deals – the highest in the hospitality industry. This feat was achieved in close collaboration with and full support of the legal team. Further, post the pandemic, a resurgent India backed by travel-hungry travellers aided in speedy recovery of the industry, evidenced by the growth numbers delivered. The industry was revived, and we were back in action once business started coming back on track. The increase in business also saw an increase in operational issues where the legal team is engaged in addressing them. With growth on an upward swing and business bouncing back stronger, our priorities include negotiating and signing new hotel deals, handling myriad operational issues, as well as keeping a sharp eye on compliance management. IOTA HOU, vice president, Shanghai Jin Jiang International Hotels: Compared with the COVID-19 period in the past three years, on the B2C side, the number of guests has increased, and naturally B2C-related legal matters have increased. On the B2B side, because ALB: How has the reopening of the hospitality sector in the Asia-Pacific region impacted the workload and priorities of the legal department within your hotel and hospitality company? RAJENDRA MISRA, executive vice president and general counsel, The Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL): The legal team in our organisation never stopped working during COVID. On the contrary, the challenges thrown by the pandemic resulted in the legal team remaining active, sometimes even more than in the period prior to the pandemic. We were occupied enabling what we could do best legally – invoking force majeure clauses and seeking waivers on rentals. We observed reinforced trust in our brand and further enhancement of our brand image, which made us the first choice and the preferred hospitality partner. This is evident from the number of hotel signings we have achieved yearly since the pandemic, and this momentum continues. The last financial year was a year of record signings, when we signed 36 new ALL SYSTEMS GO The post-pandemic boom in tourism and hotel construction and expansion in Asia has created fresh momentum for hospitality companies and evolved responsibilities for their in-house legal departments. GCs in the hotel sector discuss what they have been busy with and how their roles are becoming increasingly multifaceted as these companies navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by the hospitality landscape. BY SARAH WONG MISRA HOU SIMPSON