Hotel Fees on the Rise
Rising airline fees continue to increase, as do passenger complaints. Paying more for extra legroom, checked bags and early boarding have become standard, and travelers are lamenting the nickel-and-diming, taking over message boards and social media sites. Are hotels the next to undergo increased scrutiny for their added fees?
U.S. hotels and resorts are expected to collect a record $1.95 billion in fees and surcharges in 2012, up from $1.85 billion last year, also a record. Part of the reason for this year’s increase is 3.5 percent more occupied rooms, says Dr. Bjorn Hanson with NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, who conducted the research. But the other reason for the increase is that prices for excess hotel fees continue to go up.
Examples of hotel surcharges include resort fees, Internet charges, room service delivery fees, mini-bar restocking fees, early departure fees, automatic gratuities and more. Meeting planners can often negotiate a reduction or elimination of ancillary fees in their contracts for hotel room blocks, but the request has to be made or attendees will be hit with surcharges, especially at resorts.
Ancillary fees are profitable for airlines as well as hotels. Hansen says that most hotel fees have a profitability of 80 to 90 percent. Airlines collect considerably more in extra fees and surcharges than hotels ($22.6 billion in 2011), but consumers did win one war in the fight over fees: Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation required airlines to include all “hidden” fees in advertised flight prices.