Hotels Learning from Airlines, Begin Adding Fees

We all know creeping fee fever has infected the airline industry (and if you don’t know this, learn more here). There are fees for bags and blankets, snacks and seats – all of which bring in billions. Have hotels been listening? You better believe it – and they have added some doozies (see below).

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Hotels Have Change Fees, Too

There have been a recent spate of stories about travel fees but while the phenomena appears to be growing, it’s not exactly news. FareCompare has written about hotel fees from time to time for the past five years. Couple of things to note:

  • More high-end hotels are adding fees
  • Many of these fees appear to be rising (in some cases, sharply)

One recent hotel fee mimics the airlines’ notorious change fees and here’s an example: FareCompare looked into the cancelation fee penalty at a famous luxury hotel in San Francisco and here’s what we learned:

  • Penalty is applied even if the room is canceled a month in advance
  • Penalty for canceling: Cost of one night’s stay
  • Penalty for canceling late (and late means 3 days before scheduled arrival): 100% of the bill

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Unusual Room Fees

According to some analysts, hotel fees are multiplying. Here are a few of the more surprising ones noted by Joe Sharkey in the New York Times but as he points out not all hotels charge all these fees and those that do tend to be more expensive convention and/or resort properties. Note: Some of these fees are not optional. They may be added to the final bill whether the services are actually used or not.

  • $12 fee for porterage (bellhop service; this may be added even if you carry your own bags)
  • $20 room upgrade (for a better view)
  • $14 for basic in-room internet service (or $20 for the high-speed version)
  • $7 for a 15-minute session using a computer in a hotel business center
  • $5.20 charge for a city tourism tax
  • $75 penalty for early departure (leaving before completing the original ‘stay’ dates)
  • $25 resort fee (often includes access to a fitness center but you pay whether you use it or not)
  • $75 parking fees (this can vary wildly depending on hotel and location)

If you do stay in a hotel that charges for all of the above, you will add an extra $233.20 to the cost of your room. And that doesn’t include taxes. Or that bottle of water you thought was a freebie (it wasn’t).

Fees of the Future

No doubt hotels – and airlines – will come up with new ones. Already Sharkey said he’s seen a fee for room cleaning which prompted one commenter to gasp, “It’s like a restaurant charging extra for washing up the dinner plates afterwards.” Uh, please – let’s not give them any ideas.


Published: August 15, 2013