Is there a specific legal definition of "guest?" Re: Hotels

Hotels and similar businesses always refer to their customers as guests. To me the word guest means someone you allow over to participate in blank without expectation of compensation.

But when I go to a hotel I am referred to as a “guest” despite having to pay for everything but the air I breathe.

It seems to me that as a hotel patron I am a short-term fixed term tenant. I rent a room, no different than any other save for the duration of stay.

Am I completely out in left field on this one?

I’m specifically wondering about Canada but am interested in other jurisdictions.

I found this in Oregon law:

ORS 699.005 - Definitions

Sorry, no specific definition of the word “guests” AFAICS

The Cambridge Dictionary for example agrees with your idea as the first meaning of the word “guest” but their second meaning is “a person who is staying in a hotel”. (And the third meaning is of someone invited to appear on a television or radio show.) So in short, the word has multiple meanings.

Certain types of businesses seem to have an aversion to the word “customer”. Video rental businesses ( both Netflix and the old brick and mortar ones) and gyms usually have “members”. Hotels and theme parks and some retail stores have “guests”. That’s really all it is.

It’s marketing speak. There is a chain of stores over here who refer to all their staff as colleagues. I have heard hospital patients referred to as clients.

I assume that it comes from the luxury hotels who wanted their customers to feel like honoured guests rather than just punters. Now, even a one star doss house will have guests.

Agreed - and similar to the ‘guest’ thing - it’s called the ‘hospitality industry’ - but what’s happening isn’t really hospitality in the sense of generously inviting and entertaining a guest - it’s a contract for services.

I can see the reasoning for this. In a retail store, the customers are transitory; they buy stuff and leave. In a hotel or theme park, they have an extended presence on the property. And video rental stores and exercise gyms require customers to be members to frequent the business.

Are you asking about common language usage or are you trying to make some point about law or regulation? Different parts of your post seem to lean in each direction.

As to usage I agree with the several posters above that it’s just marketing speak. Just like no real estate agent has ever sold a house. They’re all homes. Even if you bought it to renovate starting with a bulldozer.

If you’re trying to make some point of law, such as landlord vs. tenant rights or regulations extending to a short stay in a hotel, that’s wrong. The two different sorts of transaction are regulated (and taxed) very differently. And are carefully defined in the relevant statute. In the US at least this is normally a matter of state statute, rather than federal or local. I have no clue about Canadian legislative practice.

Except of course that some retail stores have “guests” and some gyms etc will allow non-members to obtain a day pass - but really, the point is that “guest” or “member” are just different words for “customer”. Just because Netflix calls me a member doesn’t mean I have any say in the way the organization is run ( as I do in the organizations that I am truly a member of) and just because a hotel calls me a “guest” or a restaurant calls one of its employees a “host” doesn’t mean I am being provided with services without an expectation of compensation, even though in ordinary usage “guest” and “host” mean just that.

Of course, certain internet message boards make important distinctions between “guests” and “members” as well, with little legal significance.

A spot where I’ve seen an important legal distinction between “customer” and “member” is certain restaurants in dry counties in Texas. A customer can order food, but if you order a beer you need to formally become a member, because then you are a member of the restaurants legal-fiction private club which is allowed to serve alcohol.

“Member” in all these cases is really “registered recurring customer” distinguished from “anonymous (probably one-time) customer.”

It’s not at all “member” in the sense of belonging or having a vote or …

“Guest” is a long-established usage in hotels. Other business have switched from “customer” to “guest” fairly recently.

I would figure that the usage in hotels came at the same time that the hotel ownership was referred to as “hosts.” It’s an analogy (and may have derived from) times when people stayed in private homes.

Then you get “guest houses”. Which seem to range across almost the entire gamut of possible lodgings for hire imaginable.

Per Rex Stout (speaking through Nero Wolfe, natch), a guest is a jewel on the cushion of hospitality. That appeals to me greatly (and it’s not descriptive of any place in which I have hired lodgings).

The concierge staff of the Disney Dream Suite did an exemplary job of making Mr. Stout’s ideal a reality.

I wonder if the use of “guests” for hotels dates from the Downton Abbey-like situations where upper class people would be hosted in each other’s great houses. The arrangement was basically hotel-like, except that payment was made in “sense of reciprocal obligation” rather than money.

Then more mundane lodging options would try to give an impression of the elegance of the upper class by using the terminology of the upper class.

I wonder if the OP is going to return to tell us what he’s thinking about?

I think some (many?) hotels won’t let you stay more than thirty consecutive days, because in that case, you’re considered a tenant and have to be evicted if you don’t pay your bill, but a normal hotel guest can be removed more easily. They may ask you to check out on the 29th day and check right back in, just because that restarts the clock.

There was a story of someone who rented a house or apartment through AirBnB to a couple of people for more than thirty days, and then the guests refused to leave and refused to pay. It got messy, although eventually the freeloaders were removed.

Since the OP asked specifically about Canada: The legal terminology of Ontario law uses the term “innkeeper” for the person for the person (which can also be a company) running a hotel; in this regard, it is in line with a lot of other anglophone laws. It also uses the term “guest” for the person buying the innkeeper’s service. Interestingly enough, this law spends a line providing an explicit definition of the term “innkeeper”, but does not regard it as necessary to define the term “guest”, which to me seems to imply that the term is taken for granted in applying to the customer of a hotel.

From the perspective of the hotel, the word “guest” offers, of course, the advantage of evoking associations of hospitality. But I don’t think it’s simply marketing speech; I think general linguistic usage has long accepted that term to be used for the paying customer of a hotel.

It might be worthwhile to add that the term “hotel” comes from French hôtel which, in turn, has its roots in Latin hospitium, which again is related to the word hospes, which means “guest” (but, funnily, can also mean “host” - Latin did not distinguish between the two). So a hotel is quite literally a guesthouse, and the association between a hotel and the concept of hospitality and being a guest is an old one. Older, apparently, than the other meaning of the French word hôtel (which you can still see in Paris), namely, that of a luxurious Paris city residence of a French aristocrat.

I’ve several times had to do the check out and check in process on the twenty-ninth day. It’s just a paper transaction, I’ve always kept my original room and didn’t have to move any clothes. The stated reason was to keep me from becoming a tenant, and I saw no reason to doubt it.