Mandatory Daily “Facilities” Fee? Time For a Boycott?
The Le Parker Méridien hotel in New York has announced that it will implement a mandatory daily facilities charge of ten dollars per day effective as of January 1, 2013 — and FlyerTalk members are disappointed, outraged and furious, calling the policy “sleazy” and “garbage.”
Mandatory Daily “Facilities” Fee? Time For a Boycott?
This fee includes the following:
- Wired or wireless high-speed Internet access for multi-devices in guest rooms, the lobby, restaurants and the bar — although Internet access does not apply to meeting rooms or pre-function areas
- Unlimited use of gravity fitness center
- Unlimited use of the penthouse pool
- Unlimited toll free and local calls from your in-room phone
Well — at least there is an announcement, and that it was given almost a month in advance of the new policy — but I do have a few “bones of contention” which I want to address…
- First, high-speed Internet access is slowly becoming a complimentary benefit in facilities throughout the travel industry — hey, if the airport in Atlanta can finally start offering Internet access free of charge, then anyone can — not to mention that it is already free of charge for elite members of many frequent guest loyalty programs.
- Second, not everyone finds the use of a fitness center appealing or has time to use the hotel pool — regardless of whether or not it is located in the penthouse. Why impose a mandatory charge on hotel guests who will not use it?
- Unlimited toll free and local calls from your in-room phone is useless for those people who carry a mobile telephone — which is just about everyone these days.
Do not forget that by charging undisclosed mandatory daily resort or facilities fees in addition to the room rate, travel agents potentially will not receive a commission on the fees — and you potentially will not earn frequent guest loyalty program points on what you paid in fees. We are talking about potentially free and clear profit for the hotel property.
If you are an elite member of a frequent guest loyalty program, please do not be lulled into the thought that these undisclosed mandatory daily resort or facilities fees may not apply to you. That is not the point. Even if they do not apply to you, you should not tolerate this practice — for if it is allowed to continue unchecked, it will more than likely continue to permeate throughout the lodging industry and perhaps encourage hotel properties to find creative new ways to push deceptive practices even further.
Just because a hotel guest is not an elite member of a frequent guest loyalty program does not mean that that guest deserves to be deceived, as it is a different story altogether if the fees are optional and disclosed clearly throughout the reservation booking process.
The Federal Trade Commission of the United States is currently taking action against the practice of hotel properties to charge undisclosed mandatory resort fees to its guests — and the same should go for those hotel properties which charge undisclosed mandatory facilities fees to its guests. The time has come — in fact, it is long overdue — to end this consumer-unfriendly policy once and for all.
I will go one step further: hotel properties should be required to disclose all mandatory taxes and fees and include them in the room rate, as required of airlines in the United States as of January of 2012. This will give the customer more of an advantage to fairly compare room rates at competing hotel properties before deciding to book a reservation. It is a waste of time for the customer to have to investigate every single room rate to find out what is the absolute true total cost.
I recommend that you do the following 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 such as the Le Parker Méridien in New York.
- Spread the word about these rogue hotel properties and their unfair policies to family, friends and colleagues. 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.
I have no problem with hotel properties charging fees in order to increase revenue and cover costs — and, dare I say, even profit from it — as long as disclosure of those fees are as clear and as easy to find throughout the entire reservation booking process as possible, and as long as the fees are “unbundled” from the room rate for optional amenities and services. For example, if use of the hotel pool now costs ten dollars per day instead of including it in the room rate, impose it as an optional charge and reduce the mandatory room rate by ten dollars per day. This is fair, as only those who use the pool will pay the fee.
If Le Parker Méridien needs that ten dollars per day so badly, then either include it in the room rate or offer it as an optional fee. Either way, this must be clearly disclosed up front. Until then, Le Parker Méridien — as well as other hotel properties which similarly charge undisclosed mandatory fees exclusive of the published room rate — you are not entitled to one single penny of my business until you stop and end this deceptive policy.