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Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Hotels Are Getting More Creative With Their Mandatory Destination Fees

What do you get for $20 at this hotel property? Well — not really much...

When booking a reservation at a hotel or resort property, the rate which is advertised may seem like a good rate — it usually does not include taxes — and when a mandatory fee is initially hidden from the advertised rate, it is usually a source of frustration for the customer who has a budget at which they would like to adhere…

Hotels Are Getting More Creative With Their Mandatory Destination Fees

…and the frustration becomes annoyance when that mandatory fee includes items and services which are virtually useless and are basically devoid of substance or value.

The destination fee of $20.00 plus tax per night for the Motif Seattle hotel property includes a number of services and amenities which initially appear to actually be of some value at first glance — in other words, not listing that ubiquitous unlimited free local telephone calls and daily newspaper  — but a second look reveals that for many guests, the services and amenities are useless.

According to the official Internet web site of the Motif Seattle hotel property, “A destination fee of $20.00 plus tax (subject to change) is applied to each night of your stay in order to provide the following services and amenities, which enhance the guest experience. Please contact the hotel directly for more information.”

  • Pacific Northwest seasonal beverage offering, served in Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails Tuesday to Saturday — If this seasonal beverage is not alcoholic, I might partake in it — but for $20.00 plus tax?
  • Wine pour in lobby Sunday to Monday — I do not drink alcoholic beverages. Even so, what if a guest stays from Tuesday through Saturday?
  • Premium High-speed wireless internet (Wi-Fi) — This is the 2020s decade. High-speed wireless Internet access should be included as part of the room rate.
  • 20% discount on Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails Grab-And-Go Breakfast, currently available on weekends (discount excludes alcohol) — A “grab-and-go” breakfast is usually not a meal; and this offers “Breakfast Sandwiches, Coffee, Mimosas + More” via à la carte selections — for example, expect to pay at least $16.00 for a cup of yogurt, a turkey croissant, and a cup of tea — which does not include a minimum service charge of 20 percent to grab your bag and go, which negates the “discount”.
  • 20% discount on Soothe in-room spa treatments — I am typically not interested in spa treatments — “in-room” or otherwise.
  • In-room caffeine bar featuring Keurig single brewer with coffee and tea products — I do not drink coffee or tea.
  • Two bottles of Motif Seattle still water — If a hotel property is going to charge greater than $20.00 per night, guests should expect two bottles of water per night during their stay and not two bottles of water for the entire stay.
  • Tesla and Electric Vehicle charging station — I do not own or rent an electric vehicle which needs to be charged.
  • Discount on Space Needle + Chihuly Garden and Glass museum ticket purchase — I might be interested; but what exactly is the discount?!?
  • 20% discount on Columbia Tower Sky View Observatory tickets — I might possibly be interested; but a standard admission ticket costs $25.00. I should pay $20.00 plus tax per night for a discount five dollars? Such a deal.
  • Pour with tasting purchase or 10% discount on bottle purchase at Four Eleven Wine Lounge — Again: I do not drink alcoholic beverages.
  • 30% discount on boxing fitness classes at RowdyBox — I have absolutely no interest in this service.
  • 20% discount on excursions with Argosy Cruises — I am not even sure as to what to say about this. Why would I pay for a discount on a cruise?
  • Fragrance fitting with 3mL perfume takeaway and discounted custom fragrance design workshop with perfumer Molly Ray — Absolutely not interested.
  • Access to exclusive discounts to neighborhood attractions, boutiques, restaurants, and bars — On what? For how much? Too vague to even interest me.

What really amazes me is that if a guest stayed one night at this hotel property and paid the destination fee of $20.00 plus tax, he or she would get the same discounts as someone who stayed for a week and paid the destination fee of $140.00 plus tax, which is $20.00 plus tax per night for seven nights — but that guest who stays for one week will not get a discount of 140 percent for a cruise; a discount of 210 percent on boxing fitness classes; or any other discounts which are otherwise not cumulative.

In fact — aside from the beverages, which does not seem to include the bottles of water — a guest who stays one night at this hotel property and pays the destination fee of $20.00 plus tax gets the same “benefits” as the guest who stays one week at this hotel property and pays the destination fee of $140.00 plus tax, which is $20.00 plus tax per night for seven nights. How is that even fair? What value is actually derived from this?

Even worse is that — like most mandatory fees — the $20.00 per night per guest that the Motif Seattle receives is almost pure profit, as few of the amenities and services costs the hotel property any money at all.

Final Boarding Call

One has to wonder what is the value proposition of staying at a hotel property such as the one which is used as an example in this article. Perhaps the central location is the draw? Is the bed really that much more comfortable? Are the discounts exclusive to guests of this specific hotel property? Is anything included in the room rate which warrants such a high price plus the destination fee each day?

Assuming that you take advantage of all of the amenities and services, you might — just might — be getting your money’s worth out of the destination fee of $20.00 plus tax for one night…

…but if you stay multiple nights at this hotel property, the destination fee is little more than taking your money without offering anything of value in return for you.

A mandatory destination fee is no different than a mandatory resort fee or a mandatory facilities fee, of which links to past articles which have been posted here at The Gate are found here in this article

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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