Drive American

Published on Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hotels also upping fees everywhere

Just about everyone’s complaining about new airline fees, but what about your hotel bill: could they be worse?

Industry analysts say that 2007 was the peak year for the introduction of add-on hotel fees and surcharges. And last year, US hotels raked in record revenues, taking in $1.75 billion, up from $550 million in 2002.

The nickel-and-diming can be small (such as $5 for the hotel to accept a package for you) to rather large (think: mandatory valet parking for $50 a night, a notorious fee charged in San Francisco).

Other charges can include resort, business center, and grounds keeping fees…charges for having a safe in your room even if it’s not used…and charges from mini-bars with sensors that bill guests if they just move something around. Hotels then charge a “restocking fee.”

Marriott and Renaissance Hotels are famous for not charging hidden or mandatory add-on fees.

Outrages are common. The Middle Seat Terminal reports:

“One (guest) says he was staying with a group of colleagues at a high-end hotel in Greenwich, Conn., and noticed a charge of $12 a day for parking. He didn’t have a car. The hotel reversed the charge, but when the reader asked his colleagues about it after the trip, they all had the parking charge on their bills, despite not bringing cars to the hotel.”

Hotels are not newcomers in the add-on game, but the older fees were more straightforward.
Use the phone, the mini-bar, room service, or the in-room movies, and it's going to cost a guest. But many of the new charges don't hit guests until checkout.

Hotel customers are starting to complain.

TripAdvisor’s poll showed more than one third of 5,000 respondents reported uncovering more hidden fees in the past year.

By David Wilkening


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    I guess complimentary amenities are not really complimentary. from a Brand new high end property just opening in Park City A Daily Resort Charge of $25 (plus tax) is assessed per room, per night and includes: Unlimited local, toll-free, and credit card calls (no access fee); high-speed wired and wireless Internet access in all guestrooms and suites; coffee and tea in guestroom and suites; nightly turndown service; unlimited use of the Golden Door Spa cardiovascular and strength training facilities, including Kinesis resistance equipment; complimentary access for one guest per room per day to the Golden Door Spa daily scheduled group fitness class; complimentary valet parking; complimentary use of self parking facilities; complimentary ski and golf valet service.

    By Lance Cygielman, Wednesday, November 25, 2009

  • Hotels are not like airlines

    Nickle and diming guests might pay off once or twice but diminishing returns will force a rethink. In today's economy business travel is combed through by auditors and private travellers need little encouragement to economise. No longer are expensive telephone systems justified as cell phones and InterNet services such as Skype make them redundant. For some inexplicable reason WiFi InterNet charges rise proportionally, from free at Standard, 1* and 2* properties, with the number of stars a hotel boasts. One Hyatt I know charges $20/day whilst the enterprising guest will find free WiFi at the window from adjacent coffee houses. The modern traveller is very self-sufficient and equally resourceful. Hotels charging for services not provided is fraud. Front desk arguments will follow along with disputed credit card charges and the inevitable reversing of charges along with attendant costs. Tunes Hotels (AirAsia) have a practical model, which I have copied for my small hotel investment, the room charge is just that: bed, toilet facilities and fan. All other services are additional. No hidden charges and no arguments!

    By J Hewson, Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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