Posted by William Charles on February 7, 2018
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Published on February 7th, 2018 | by William Charles

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Are We Going To Make A Stand Regarding ‘Destination Fees’?

If there is one thing that is almost universally hated, it’s resort fees. If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel in Las Vegas, chances are you’ve had to pay one of these fees. Despite these fees being mandatory, they are not listed in the original room rate when searching for hotels. Hotel chains have long claimed that they have to charge these resort fees to remain competitive (e.g if they don’t charge them their base rate will be higher then their competitors and they will lose out on bookings). The real reason chains charge these fees is that online travel agencies such as Hotels.com or Booking.com don’t receive a commission on resort fees. These commissions can often be significant, with anything from 15-25% being considered standard (although major chains are always in a constant battle to lower the commission they pay).

In recent times we’ve started to see these fees spread to non-resorts, we’ve linked to other sites coverage on this here and here. Because these properties aren’t resorts, hotels are instead calling them ‘urban destination fees’. I was shocked to see Lucky over at OMaaT suggest that he ‘sort of likes‘ one of these new charges because of the benefits it provides. Hotel chains aren’t stupid, of course they will do things such as provide outsized value when implementing these charges and then scale them back over time (among other tactics). Hotels already have the ability to offer packages such as the St. Regis is doing in New York, but this should never be a mandatory charge. I’m of the strong opinion that if a charge is mandatory, it should be included in the original price.

The biggest thing you can do as a consumer is to simply not stay at properties that charge these mandatory fees. If it’s unavoidable then you have a few options:

  • Include the fact that there was a mandatory ‘destination’ or ‘resort’ fee in your online reviews and clearly list it as being a negative to your stay
  • Directly contact the management of the hotel and hotel chain expressing your concern and displeasure at these fees being charged

 

 



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83 Comments on "Are We Going To Make A Stand Regarding ‘Destination Fees’?"

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Ken
Ken

Are these junk fees charged on award stays too?

Darv
Darv

From my research, Hyatt stays booked entirely on points are exempt from these fees. Mostly from Flyertalk. Apparently some properties try to charge them but they’re not supposed to.

iahphx
iahphx

Right. This seems to be Hyatt’s policy. I always call the hotel to check, but so far I’ve never been charged a resort fee at a Hyatt for an award stay.

It would be useful information to have a chart on the various hotel chain policies regarding resort/destination fees for award stays.

Meanwhile, for non-award stays, if resort fees are going to become like YQ to airfares, I don’t really care as long as they’re baked into the upfront price. Nothing is more annoying than to do a comparative search and find that the good hotel deal has a ridiculous supplemental fee. I’ve noticed that some boutique hotels are now playing this game on expedia and such. Do any of the search engines INCLUDE total cost in the search algorithms? Maybe booking.com?

cancel
cancel

Hotels.com and kayak.com

iahphx
iahphx

I have recently done searches on kayak.com and the price displayed was not the true final cost (things like mandatory cleaning fees and such).

Lrdx
Lrdx

Hotels.com

Darv
Darv

I agree on a chart being very helpful for the fees from chains.

As for boutique hotels, I’m in the process of researching a three week trip to Italy/Amsterdam and I’ve had to be vigilant in verifying amounts through the various rewards programs/online portals, cross checked against Expedia et al.

I too, could use a resource that helps bake in the total costs for searching.

escot
escot

Depends on the chain…. the hotel. (But of course, those wanting to make excuses for the the billionaire slime running these hotels will say, “but they all do it.”…..

LC
LC

Depends. If its a stayed comped from the Casino there is usually no resort fees at all.

Chris
Chris

MGM also charges a resort fee on some comp rooms. It depends on the comp and the property

Dave P
Dave P

At Caesars Entertainment casinos, the resort fee IS still charged on a comp night, but it is waived if you are diamond or higher in their Total Rewards program. That’s the third tier up.

RY
RY

Comped rooms using players points still charge resort fees, at least at the big chain casinos.

Paulie
Paulie

Starwood charges resort fees at Disney Dolphin and Swan even when points are used. Everybody uses the pool when it’s 50 degrees outside right?

John
John

Majority of the time no however I wouldnt be surprised if we see an attempt in the coming years. One strategy I use is to request that the resort fee (destination fee or however they re-brand it in the future) is charged upfront on a separate card. I often found that properties will fail to deliver on one or many of the amenities that are inclusive of the fee. So if the pool closes, your paper is not delivered or the printers are broken in the business center you can request the funds be credited back that particular folio on the grounds that they failed to deliver services. If they refuse a charge-back is easier to manage than on an all inclusive hotel bill.

chris
chris

That is a good tip, I think I will do that the next time and split the credit card charges.

JL
JL

for most chains, yes. hilton might be the exception here for all points stays.

Troy
Troy

I believe that is a yes, because it is charged outside of the standard rate it would still apply sort of like a parking fee would be added to your bill.

gary
gary

in vegas . they are still required

Parkerthon
Parkerthon

Race to the bottom. Anything to game the travel search engines. The search engines are the ones that need to at least include these fees as part of their estimated cost per night. Should be a no brainer if they don’t make commissions off of it.

Mike L
Mike L

That’s what I’ve been saying all along. One of the benefits to hotels is that they don’t have to pay the OTAs a commission on these fees. That adds up quickly when they end up being $40 per night. On a 4 night stay, that OTA would be missing out on $40 (assuming a 25% commission structure). I’m not sure why Expedia and Priceline are not writing this into all of their contracts, seems like they’re leaving a lot of money on the table.

Ken
Ken

I bet hotels are forcing OTAs to hide the required fees.

Lrdx
Lrdx

Highly doubt it. Hotels.com shows them.

MidWestCoast
MidWestCoast

They wouldn’t need to force them. It’s not in the travels site’s best interest to show the fees either. Plus, if I’m the hotel, I don’t want to disclose exactly what the fees are and leave a paper trail the travel site can use to get hard numbers on all the money they’re missing out on. Sure, they probably have a good idea, but that’s different than hard numbers. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement and without customer awareness and subsequent consequences, things will not change

Parkerthon
Parkerthon

I think it would be a competitive advantage to be first travel site that advertises as showing hidden fees. Especially if they don’t make money on it.

HoodWinked
HoodWinked

Perhaps to have a checkbox which says something like “Show Properties without resort fees first”, as the property may wish to change resort fees between the time the room is booked and when the stay occurs.

Mike L
Mike L

Boom! Love that idea. Make the box prominent and at the top of the page so all customers could see and use it or hell even an “Exclude Properties That Charge a Mandatory Fee” option.

Ken
Ken

Yes, I don’t know why search engines don’t show these junk fees if they’re required and don’t earn commission for them anyways. As far as I’m concerned it makes them complicit.

George
George

The complain and refund strategy suggested by some here is iffy. I stayed at the Bellagio as part of AMEX fine hotels and resorts deal, which includes free WiFi. Well… Bellagio automatically credited something like $6 of their $$35-39 fee for WiFi. Completely arbitrary and utter nonsense. After lots of fighting and having Amex call the front desk, they agreed to refund two of five nights fees as a “one time courtesy”.

Thanks for the post DoC. I agree – Lucky of omaat was very disappointing in condoning the St Regis after furiously tweeting about the same thing last year.

Ken
Ken

That’s because Lucky is turning into TPG and is slowly selling out to the major players in the industry. I unsubscribed from his blog a while ago. DoC and FM are my two favorite blogs right now since they’re very unbiased and focused on bringing value to their readers, but especially DoC thanks to all of the great the bank bonus info.

MSer
MSer

Yup. DOC and FM only regular blogs I read anymore.The rest are blatant CC shills masquerading as “travel experts”

Matt Katakis
Matt Katakis

What is FM?

Jay
Jay

It really is sad how lucky’s blog has gone. Used to be soooo good. Now … ugh.

PAUL
PAUL

Agreed. He is the TMZ of travel blogs now. Thumbs down

NinjaX
NinjaX

TPG is the TMZ. OMAAT is Cosmo.

escot
escot

Good post Doc — and your staying on the case is part of the needed “taking a stand” — a shift from the standard “don’t bite the hand that feeds us” mentality that shapes too many travel blogs. (Lucky strikes out again.)

Happened to hear a morning talk radio show host recently take on this subject — (came out of the blue — and he was livid) and the more negative publicity and general awareness, the more the sheep, the passive masses might actually wake up and refuse to be fleeced anymore.

ps, related issue is the NASTY resort fees being tacked on to reward nights, even from major chain hotels. I’ve cancelled reservations in the past when realizing the slime afoot. A comparative inquiry into this here would be most welcome too.

John
John

That’s why i use DoC’s links when I can–he provides me with so much unbiased info

Frank
Frank

I agree. How do we boycott? If we don’t do something all of the sudden all hotels will start doing this.
What’s next? A fee to reserve your room location?

Ken
Ken

I suggest leaving negative reviews about the junk fees. If a fake restaurant can get to #1 on TripAdvisor it should be fairly easy to do the same thing in the opposite direction with hotels that charge junk fees.

cancel
cancel

If anybody doesn’t get the reference about the restaurant, the video is worth watching.
https://youtu.be/bqPARIKHbN8

Chucks
Chucks

Not a bad idea actually. A dozen one star reviews about fees probably has the best chance of success.

sloebrake
sloebrake

Good idea, immediate 1 star rating followed with a thoughtful review.

Larry
Larry

Complete and utter MONEY GRAB! This is where government regulation can and should step in. It’s a mandatory charge so it should be in the base rate.

Looking at the NYC GH in The Gate’s post, here is what I think the value add is for the $25 (plus tax) BS fee.

Yes I would totally avoid any hotel pulling this crap unless you have absolutely no other choice, and if you do stay there, bitch loudly in the reviews. Maybe it won’t be worth a star or two and sliding down the ratings on TA to suck up some more hidden fees from unsuspecting consumers.

High speed premium internet- INCLUDED WITH WOH $0 VALUE
Local, long distance and international calls- USE YOUR CELL OR SKYPE $0
$15 food and beverage credit in hotel Market per room per day- WHO BUYS THIS OVERPRICED CRAP? VALUE MAYBE $5 COMPARED TO WHAT IT COSTS AT THE CORNER STORE
Access to daily New York Times & Financial Times via in-room app WORTHLESS $0
Grand Central self-guided audio tour for two per stay WORTHLESS $0
Seasonal rooftop tour viewing NYC skyline WORTHLESS $0
Exclusive Grand Central coupon book with discounts and free offers for Grand Central Terminal vendors LESS THAN WORTHLESS AND WHO THE HELL CHARGES FOR COUPONS?! $0
Macy’s VIP passport which includes 15% discount on regular and sale merchandise, 20% off food and beverage & complimentary fine jewlery & “MyStylist” personal shopper SEE ABOVE $0
Luggage storage upon check in (up to four (4 bags) and upon check out (maximum eight (8) hours) CMON FOR REAL??? WHAT HOTEL IN THE WORLD LET ALONE A FOUR OR FIVE STAR ONE CHARGES FOR LUGGAGE STORAGE? $0

TOTAL VALUE TO ME AND ANY NORMAL PERSON IS BETWEEN $0 AND — LET’S BE GENEROUS AND SAY $10 IF YOU DON’T HAVE A PHONE OR A COMPUTER AND NEED TO CALL YOUR RELATIVES IN AUSTRALIA. AND IT COSTS WHAT- $30 OR MORE A DAY INCLUDING TAX? TOTAL BULLSHIT.

Brian
Brian

When has government regulation ever helped anyone but the government. More red tape, more fees, and more government employee’s and more taxes. The free market will take care of itself. Look at Southwest airlines for a prime example. They continue to make a profit and grow..why? No bag fees, no change fees, fair and transparent prices. In this day of instant information and reviews, companies can be brought to their knees in days. Look at United’s response to pulling a passenger off a plane. We now have much higher offers if we are bumped. Free market and the power of the internet working at it’s finest.

Frank
Frank

You seem to not understand why low-cost airlines are low-cost. You are right for some parts, low-cost airlines tend to be more efficient than the regular carriers. However, part of their efficiency comes from the fact that they are only flying for very specific high demand route, usually non-stop because that saves money. As for regular airlines, they also need to fly some low-demand route because airline is not only a merchandise, it is also a service for a lot of people. As you may/may not know, low-cost airlines usually pick small, low-cost airport, which may not be available everywhere. What if some place only has one high-cost airport? They don’t fly there……

What you need to know is everything has its limitation. Free market is great but it needs proper regulations. It can easily go wrong like 2007 if things go out of control….. At that time no regulations have been put on subprime mortgage. That was sort of a free market, wasn’t it? What happened? People were irrational and stupid and eventually fucked themselves.

Maggie
Maggie

+1

Paul
Paul

Make it illegal.

Ken
Ken

This will never happen, there are too many lobbyists in Washington.

J
J

Just like with the banking industry and the crooks killing off the CFPB.

Darv
Darv

From my research, Hyatt is not supposed to charge resort fees if nights are paid entirely with points (not points+cash).

I just booked a room in Key West at an SPG property with points and they said I would have to pay a resort fee of $38 when I’m there.

Your idea of posting the fee experience online is a great one. Going forward, if any resort fees or any of these types of fees are collected from me, or they try to, I will tell the hotel management that I will be posting reviews on TripAdvisor and other major travel websites and downgrading the stay experience because of the hidden fees. I imagine this will result in some of these fees being waived. TripAdvisor reviews are worth a lot.

Rusga
Rusga

Correct, Hyatt doesn’t. Comes in handy when booking PH Maldives where resort fees are super high.

ender
ender

Any way to find out these fees during booking? Or you can only find out at site?

mark
mark

The second I got done reading this post, I went on TripAdvisor to review the Westin Las Vegas. Great idea.

Daniel
Daniel

If you pay him enough, Lucky even would say your shlt smells great.

Bruce
Bruce

In fairness to Lucky at OMaaT, he clearly says in the article he is “really opposed” to these fees. He was speaking of the unusual amount of value (e.g. $50/day food credit) provided at one particular property: St. Regis NY in exchange for these fees.

Ken
Ken

Doesn’t matter. Requiring people to eat at an overpriced restaurant (and paying for it if you eat there or not) is ridiculous any way you try to spin it.

Bruce
Bruce

Treasure Island is one of the few Vegas strip casino hotels that, as of last year, offered an ‘optional resort fee’ promotion. Search google for their TV Ad Special.
The problem is they set that room rate higher. So you end up paying writhin a couple bucks of their regular offer though lose out on the internet and gym.

Darv
Darv

Another suggestion is for people to message their federal representatives about this issue. Most representatives, of both parties, do pay attention to constituent messages and if everybody sends in their opinions, it may help to someday get this regulated for transparent pricing.

By “representatives,” I mean your US House Rep and two US Senators.

Here is a link to find your US House Rep (official website)

https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

And here is one to find your US Senators:

https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=state

Omer
Omer

AKA “Urban Fee” in San Francisco

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