It’s Time to Put the Kibosh on Hotel Resort Fees? Now?!?
“H owever, when I clicked through to the next screen in the booking process, I was informed that the total for the three nights would be $530.88, 34 percent higher than the initially quoted rate. Even allowing for taxes and fees — which should have been included in the original quote — the increase was eye-popping. The bulk of the extra cost, it turned out, was due to the $29.12-a-day resort fee.”
Because he encountered resort fees as part of a personal experience in attempting to book a reservation for a room at a hotel property in Las Vegas for three days, Tim Winship of FrequentFlier has officially declared that now is the “time to put the kibosh on hotel resort fees”.
Imposing mandatory resort fees is a legitimate scam which has been practiced by a number of hotel properties for years. Where have you been, Tim Winship?
Have you taken a look at the photograph of the hotel property used for this list of hotel properties designed to alert readers of The Gate as to which hotel properties charge mandatory resort fees — some of them inexplicable or usurious where your final hotel statement can increase by as much as 50 percent? Do you recognize it? Yep — it is the same hotel property about which you encountered those mandatory resort fees in your article.
Have you contacted Charlie Leocha? I have; and I intend to contact him yet again. He is the chairman and co-founder of Travelers United, which is the consumer advocate organization behind the recent poll which you cited.
The Federal Trade Commission Stepped In — But…
I reported in this in-depth article on the proliferation of resort fees almost three years ago when the Federal Trade Commission of the United States finally announced that it was taking action against the practice of hotel properties to charge undisclosed mandatory resort fees to its guests.
As a result of its investigation, the Federal Trade Commission — a division of the United States government charged with protecting the American consumer — had warned 22 hotel operators that their Internet reservation web sites may violate the law by providing a deceptively low estimate of what consumers can expect to pay for their hotel rooms. “Consumers are entitled to know in advance the total cost of their hotel stays,” said Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz in this release by the Federal Trade Commission, at which a copy of the warning letter in Portable Document Format is included. “So-called ‘drip pricing’ charges, sometimes portrayed as ‘convenience’ or ‘service’ fees, are anything but convenient, and businesses that hide them are doing a huge disservice to American consumers.”
Unfortunately, neither lawsuits nor petitions nor boycotts nor intervention by the Federal Trade Commission of the United States have helped to control the proliferation of mandatory resort fees — at least, not yet, anyway — but that does not mean that we should not stop trying.
When Resort Fees Can Be Acceptable
Rarely do I ever patronize a hotel property which charges a resort fee — unless I am absolutely receiving value for my money, such as I did when I stayed as a guest at the Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino property last year. I paid a respectable $76.16 — including the resort fee and taxes — for the night there. In most cases, I never use the offered amenities covered by a resort fee — and so, they are worthless to me as well.
Hotel properties should earn revenue any way they possibly can. I have no problem with a hotel property charging resort fees, as long as it:
- Clearly discloses the resort fees in advance and does not attempt to be opaque to the consumer
- Offers real value for the price paid for the amenities included in resort fees without decreasing the benefits normally offered exclusive of a resort fee, and
- Implements resort fees as optional, rather than mandatory
Charging mandatory resort fees after a reservation is booked is a predatory practice that is deceptive at best — and this practice needs to stop immediately. In my opinion, resort fees are a method to artificially offer — and advertise — a lower room rate. Resort fees are no different from the allegedly deceptive practices of purported ultra-low-cost carriers such as Spirit Airlines and Ryanair, both of which charge excessive mandatory fees to recover revenue lost by offering ridiculously low airfares. I was able to fly as a passenger aboard an airplane operated by Ryanair without paying one single mandatory fee — both on my first flight and my second flight.
Avoid Paying Resort Fees
While convenience may be decreased as a result, it is possible to avoid paying resort fees. How?
- Do not patronize hotel properties which implement a mandatory resort fee — especially if you will not benefit from it. These properties are typically found in touristy resort areas such as parts of the Caribbean, Orlando, Las Vegas or Hawaii — although they can be found almost anywhere.
- If the hotel property does disclose that a mandatory resort fee is charged and you really want to stay there, contact the management of the property and inform them that you will not stay at their property unless they agree not to charge you the resort fee.
- If you are informed of resort fees for the first time when checking into a hotel property, adamantly refuse to pay it. Walk out of the hotel property if the front desk agent refuses to oblige, or contact the corporate office of the lodging company of which the hotel property is branded to submit an official complaint.
What You Can Do About Resort Fees
You may also want to consider taking the following steps to help end this deceptive and sneaky practice of hotel properties charging undisclosed mandatory fees:
- Boycott hotel properties which impose undisclosed mandatory fees to its guests. Hit them where it hurts — in terms of reduced revenue. Vote with your feet and choose an alternate hotel property, if available.
- Alert the Federal Trade Commission of the United States of this practice by filing a complaint when reporting hotel properties.
- Spread the word to family, friends and colleagues about these rogue hotel properties and their unfair policies. Encourage them to join you in the boycott, file complaints to the Federal Trade Commission of the United States, and spread the word to their families, friends and colleagues.
There is no reason for you to be forced to pay for something you did not use — let alone be unfairly charged additionally after you already paid for it or reserved it.
Although it takes some effort, FlyerTalk members have been able to successfully avoid paying resort fees — and you can as well. There is no reason for you to be forced to pay for something you did not use — let alone be unfairly charged additionally after you already paid for it or reserved it.
Please do not misunderstand me, Tim Winship — I am in complete agreement with what you wrote in your article; but instead of complaining about mandatory resort fees when it affects you personally, help me do something about it for as many hotel guests as possible. I invite you to help me get that aforementioned list of hotel properties which charge a mandatory resort fee as close to completed as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you, Tim…
…and by the way, you stated that “My inclination is to give my business to the local Courtyard by Marriott, which offers solidly dependable value, and a pool, with no resort fees. But that means I won’t be running into my cousins, nieces, and nephews in the buffet line at the Luxor.”
Sure you can, Tim. You can walk, right? Why not stay at the Courtyard Las Vegas South hotel property? It is only approximately 1.5 miles away; and it will only take you approximately 30 minutes to walk from the Luxor Hotel and Casino property where your family is staying. You can still join them in the buffet line for meals, possibly save money overall, earn Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program points, receive your “solidly dependable value”, not pay a resort fee, and get your exercise — all at once.
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.