Hotel ancillary fees are on the rise, following in the same path that airline ancillary fees have taken these last few years.
As I reviewed my hotel receipt from a recent business trip to Orlando, I couldn’t believe the additional charges that were billed in addition to the nightly rate:
These types of additional fees are, on average, costing travelers an increase of 25% over the nightly rates. As business travel spend continues to rise, it would behoove all travelers to carefully review and audit your receipts to be aware of and, in some cases, avoid these added hotel costs.
Almost everyone has, at some point, found themselves paying the “add on fees” that come with air travel. And while it can be frustrating, we might as well get used to it–they’re not going anywhere. In fact, hotels have jumped on the “What else can we charge them for?” bandwagon.
A recent article, “Mimicking the airlines, hotels get fee-happy,” reported that hotels will be earning $2.25 billion in revenue this year from these additional charges, most of which is pure profit. Instead of trying to understand “Why,” I think it’s best for travelers to first understand “What.” While additional charges are supposed to be disclosed prior to your stay, some might be unexpected. It’s best not to assume things are as they once were, even at your usual destinations.
Here are some of the items that might be costing you in hotel fees:
Donations to local charities
It’s best to be on the safe side. If you need further clarification regarding the “extra” charges, be sure to ask the front desk.
For some time now, the media has been talking about the fees airlines charge to create more revenue. But, has anyone noticed the increase in hotel fees? Or have we just gotten used to them over time?
At least the airlines give you options. For instance, if you intend on flying with extra luggage, you know upfront that you will have to pay more money for those bags, whereas hotels fees, quite often, just show up on your bill, after the fact, at checkout.
If you don’t ask about, or read all the details, watch out. Here are a few additional hotel fees I’ve personally encountered:
Airport Shuttle: While many hotels don’t charge, don’t assume the shuttle is always included.
Housekeeper Gratuities: Leaving a tip for your housekeeper each day and then realizing at the end of your stay that you were also billed for this can be a rude awakening.
Bottled Water & Snacks: Even if there is no note or card stating that it’s complimentary, ask before using.
Early Check-in/Late Check-out: Most hotels are becoming very rigid about these services and are charging extra for them.
Energy Surcharges: Depending on the season, energy surcharges ($1 to $3 a day) can also appear on your bill as the hotel may require you to share the costs of increased energy usage.
Resort Fee: A resort fee can run anywhere from $10 to $50 a day and include a number of items. Even if you don’t use them, you still incur this charge. Another similar term and fee is a “grounds-keeping fee,” but it is usually much less per day.
Internet Fees: Where this has been a common inclusion at many hotels, some are now reverting back to charging. Watch out too if you have two devices—i.e. a laptop and an iPad—the property could charge for both.
With the continual rise in hotel and airline fees, surely more are on the way. And just a friendly reminder for companies with business travelers: when updating your corporate travel policy or negotiating contracts, due diligence when it comes to these fees is a must.
Anyone who has boarded a plane in the last few years knows that you’ll pay an additional fee for something somewhere along the way. Whether it’s to check your bags, get a better seat, or even to bring a carry-on bag along, there are fees all around us.
But the next big push in fees seems to be coming from the hotel industry. While some hotels have always charged for in-room WiFi service or movies, a new round of fees are on the horizon as hotels try to offset their costs.
At a recent hotel stay in Michigan, I was charged $3.00 for the small safe in my room, even though I didn’t use it. When I asked about the charge, I was told that it covers the fee for the purchase of the safe, the installation, and the insurance that they carry on them. While some fees seem reasonable (you use it, you pay for it), other fees seem out of line. For example, some hotels are considering charging for using the towels at the pool, fees for housekeeping service, and automatic gratuities for the bell hop or other staff services you may or may not use.
The best way to avoid excessive fees is to review your bill before you check out. Most hotels have a check out feature on the T.V. in your room. Simply go to your room account and look over your bill. If you see anything suspicious, or that needs further explanation, contact the front desk. For example, if you see a gratuity listed for something you didn’t use, or for which you’ve already left a tip, then ask for the charge to be removed. In all cases, review and settle your bill before you depart the hotel. It’s much easier to have your bill adjusted at the front desk than from home once your trip is over.
For more information on hotel fees and how to avoid them, click here.