Yesterday, I was quoted in a Fox News story “hinting” at how travelers feel about resort fees.
“Guests hate, hate, hate resort fees,” says Barbara DeLollis, the Washington D.C.-based hospitality expert who founded Travel Update.
You tell me if I got it right 🙂
As most of you know, mandatory resort fees cover things such as bottled water, morning newspaper, access to a health club and Wi-Fi, and guests are charged the fee whether they use the covered items/services- or not. Recent research from veteran hospitality consultant Bjorn Hanson from New York University’s hospitality school has estimated that U.S. hotels collected about $2.1 billion in fees in 2013, about double from a decade ago, the story says.
They don’t appear to be going away, although two resorts cited by the Fox News article have had great success ditching the fee and making the money back in terms of new business, loyalty and positive TripAdvisor reviews.
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To prepare for contributing to the article, I had asked my globetrotting Facebook friends if they had noticed any resorts dropping the fees (above image above).
“I still run into them at every resort that I have checked into the last 6 months,” said road warrior Bruce Ford, senior veep at hotel industry tracker Lodging Econometrics who frequently visits U.S. resorts to attend conferences and give presentations. “In fact they are going up in my mind. All of them were $25 plus.”
Washington D.C.-based hotelier Jeff Brainerd said he’s seen some resorts switch from flat fee to a percentage, “and some call it a resort tax.”
Travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt says that resort fees are such a turn-off to travelers – who may only find out about them at check-out time – that some will specifically avoid booking resorts that charge them.
Hotel marketing strategist Robert Cole says that hotels that embrace the resort fee are doing so to accomplish three things:
- “Undermine competitive price comparisons,
- Drive profits by capturing the breakage between the revenue booked and the cost of consuming the services, and
- Avoid hotel room occupancy taxes.”
Furthermore, he said, some resorts fail to disclose the policies adequately – which could result in a frustrating check-out for the consumer (and front desk clerk).
What angers many consumers is the fact that they may not even use the items covered.
“I am against (resort fees) as mandatory,” wrote road warrior and longtime reader James E. Knauff III. “If… health club, tennis, beach hoods, golf are offered and sold, fine. Every guest does not use the facilities.”
Traveler tip: Road warrior Tom Siko shared his secret with us on how to get out of fees, even if only partially. “I’ve negotiated them down or out completely in Vegas before. Sometimes when you check in if you tell them your there for business or a conference it makes a difference.”
He also had luck at the MGM negotiating a “pretty steep” $50 resort fee.
“When I checked in I asked for a reduction and they took it down to like $5. I think it really depends on the property and the agent,” Siko said. “I think a lot of hotels use this as their “baggage fee” to grab extra revenue from guests and making the nightly rate less.”
Road warrior Spencer Beck says he’s paid a $25 per day charge at / and Paris properties that give him Wi-Fi in the room and access to the fitness center, but there’s an option to waive the fee and pay $15 for one or the other.
In Vegas, Caesars once tried to publicize its no-resort-fee policy for its properties. I wrote about it for USA TODAY in 2011 when they brought on Marie Osmond to help with the PR efforts. Osmond actually marched on the Vegas Strip with showgirls to “protest” fees.
But, lo and behold, earlier this year Caesars reversed course and reinstated its resort fees. The resort fees range from $10 to $25, according to the Las Vegas Sun’s story.
Readers: What’s the highest or most absurd resort fee you’ve ever paid? And/or: Have you ever tried to get out of them?