Coming up: more fees. But not from the airlines…from hotels.
Expect more hotels to add charges to hold travelers" bags after they check out, extra room service charges, and increased or stricter cancellation and early checkout fees.
"Despite a forecast for a continued decline in hotel rates in 2010, hoteliers will become more aggressive in collecting fees and surcharges this year," predicts Bjorn Hanson, an associate professor at New York University Tisch Center.
He predicted an increase in total collected fees and surcharges by US hotel companies this year that already total over one billion dollars. But such fees are often not only aggravating but also confusing.
"You could stay at a Marriott, Starwood or Hilton hotel one night, and stay at a different Marriott, Starwood or Hilton hotel the next night, and the fees and surcharges will be different," he said.
"These are hotel by hotel, and they also come and go."
Hotels also are upping charges for such business services as received faxes to as high as more than $5 for the first page, he said. This stems from a trend of hotels outsourcing their business center operations due to declining demand.
Compounding the problem: Buyers often are not able to negotiate these fees because of technology limitations at the hotel.
"It's really hard for hotels to bundle some services in corporate rates because the property management systems don't allow them to do accounting that way," Hanson said.
At the same time, Hanson said buyers are being more aggressive and successful negotiating high-demand business travel amenities, such as internet access, parking and breakfast.
He made his remarks at the Business Travel News/National Business Travel Association Strategic Travel Symposium in New York.
By David Wilkening
Thursday, March 18, 2010