Resort fees are offensive. They are not optional charges, so they are part of the room rate. Not including them in the room rate is disingenuous.
Consumers and the government get up in arms and regulate over airfare displays when already those are pretty clear and clean, it’s hotels where the worst behavior happens.
They are one of my top hotel pet peeves.
The Andaz Maui started charging a $40 per night resort fee this spring. It doesn’t include parking.
An FTC attorney said the agency isn’t insisting that hotels include the resort fees in the advertised room rate.
“At this time, we don’t have evidence to prove that not including the resort fee in the room rate is deceptive if a hotel prominently discloses the resort fee upfront and includes it in the total price” when a guest checks out, attorney Annette Soberats said.
That seems right as far as it goes, though it leaves resort fees as a dirty practice that has hotels disrespecting their guests.
It creates an interesting dichotomy — by virtue of:
- Legislative history, granting significant oversight of airlines to the government as part of the process of ‘deregulation’
- The different agencies overseeing airlines (DOT) versus virtually every other form of commerce (FTC)
…You get very different outcomes. The DOT literally considered in its proposed rulemaking last spring whether or not to require pop ups disclosing airline fees on booking sites, the problem of how one accomplishes that in a mobile environment notwithstanding. And hotels have wide latitude in how their prices are displayed, and certainly not being required to display resort fees until the final checkout page.
Even more offensive is how complicit hotel loyalty programs are in the practice. For instance, Hilton HHonors says hotels that bundle certain benefits into resort fees don’t have to provide them by virtue of status (otherwise members could argue against the resort fee, since they’re already supposed to receive what the hotel pretends that fee ‘pays for’).
These Amenities are offered solely at the discretion of Hilton HHonors Worldwide, L.L.C., and the individual hotel. Not all Amenities are provided by all hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. When payment of a resort charge is required, check individual hotel for availability of included Amenities.
SPG Participating Hotels that have mandatory resort charges that include Internet access will provide a replacement benefit, to be determined at each SPG Participating Hotel’s discretion.
Thus it’s perfectly appropriate to levy complaints at the loyalty program for the practices they accommodate.
There are really two equilibria here:
- No one charges resort fees, although there’s an incentive for a given hotel to defect if resort fees are permissible as it makes their rates look cheaper than the competition.
- Everyone charges resort fees, to stay competitive with hotels that do and ensure they aren’t disadvantaged by the deception of other properties.
What I’d love to see is a major awareness and shaming campaign to change these incentives. Get lots of negative attention for hotels charging these fees.
They tend to cluster together in a region, where hotels are more or less all following the same practice in a given area. So picking out hotels will necessarily be unfair relative to less attention given their competitors. But it’s also precisely the uncertainty of massive negative attention that could give such a campaign outsized power.
Hotels need to respect their guests, and that starts with honesty about the most basic element of a reservation, the rate.
Towards that end, what are the most egregious resort fees you’ve seen?
(HT: Road Warrior Voices)