Resort Fee Solution
This week the District of Columbia Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Marriott citing that they were charging deceptive fees. In some cases they didn’t disclose fees until the end of booking while in others fees included things that were already free.
The Marriott case is just the latest example of people fighting back against fees, mainly the very popular resort fee. A resort fee is a charge levied by a hotel that is generally mandatory and which includes a certain number of amenities. Resort fees often help hotels avoid paying commissions to online travel agents, which is why they have become so popular.
The Real Resort Fee Solution
But why do we care so much about resort fees? Airlines charge fuel surcharges on so many fares, but we don’t generally complain. Why is that? It’s because we don’t ever really see them when paying a cash fare. Or at least they don’t factor nearly as much into our decisions because airlines have to advertise their fares including all taxes & fees.
As the U.S. Department of Transportation puts it, “For both domestic and international markets, carriers must provide disclosure of the full price to be paid, including government taxes/fees as well as carrier surcharges, in their advertising, on their websites and on the passenger’s e-ticket confirmation.”
In other words, the government makes them show you the TOTAL PRICE.
How to Look at a Rate
To discuss this a bit more, let’s look at one of the world’s biggest resort fee villains MGM Resorts International. A few months back they had a briefly available rate of $50 for a Fountain View Room at the Bellagio and I booked it through Hyatt. I do sincerely hope this stay will be better than my previous one.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the confirmation:
Hyatt did do a pretty good job of telling me about the fees. They noted on the hotel page that a resort fee is charged and on this confirmation I can clearly see the breakdown. But that doesn’t change the fact that the room rate on Hyatt.com said $50 when I searched and clicked on this hotel. That is exactly why this needs to change.
A New Real Hotel Rate
If hotel rates were like airfares, the nightly rate for the room above wouldn’t be $50, but instead it would show as $107.71 per night. The “Real Hotel Rate” would include the resort fee plus taxes. Basically, what I would see when searching and booking is the EXACT amount I will pay. Just like with airfare!
With the Real Hotel Rate resort fees don’t matter. Neither do “facility fees” or any other type of fee a hotel can come up with. They tell you a TOTAL price when you book and you pay it. This also helps when budgeting, since hotel taxes vary wildly from place to place. In some cases taxes/fees can be 20%+ of a room rate so this would help people better know what they are going to pay even when not talking about resort fees.
Whether it happens through lawsuits, legislation or customers speaking with their wallets, I do think change will come in the arena of hotels and resort fees. I do hope that we aren’t shortsighted enough to wack this mole while allowing another one to pop up. Let’s move for the full disclosure of hotel rates up front. The hotel industry won’t like it, but it is the best move for consumers.