It’s amazing what a little pressure can do.
Frustrated by the BP oil spill claims process, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association less than three weeks ago introduced three law firms that could offer representation if the battle over oil compensation went to court.
That announcement might have struck a nerve, because on Tuesday the man in charge of doling out BP’s US$20-billion oil fund said he is willing to review ALL Florida hotel oil spill claims regardless of whether the property is located near where oil washed ashore.
“We want to keep the Florida tourism industry—its lodging and restaurants—out of the courtroom if we can,” Ken Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, told FRLA members. The public relations agency representing the GCCF said Feinberg would not be available for further comment. He did not take media questions Tuesday when appearing before the FRLA. BP also declined further comment.
But FRLA members shouldn’t go around slapping each other on the back just yet. After all, Feinberg is under BP’s employ. And that’s just the reason why I remain dubious about whether the Florida hotels will have any more luck receiving compensation from the oil giant.
Certainly, a case can be made that the hotels in Florida are deserving. During July, Florida Gulf Coast hotels reported occupancy inched upward by 0.1% to 60%, but average daily rate dropped 5.2% to US$112.55 and revenue per available room fell by 5.1% to US$67.48, according to the most recent STR monthly data.
That said, it would appear to be in Feinberg’s best interest to delay or limit claim payments. So while a little pressure might have gotten Feinberg’s attention, I believe it will take a lot more to get the results the FRLA is after.