Are Hotel Fees the New Airline Fees?

It is becoming more important for travelers to read the fine print, and not just for their airline tickets. Make sure to scan through your hotel contract as well, says consumer advocate Christopher Elliott on his blog.

Elliott said a reader recently contacted him to tell him about a $100 fee she was charged for canceling her hotel reservation. An agent told the woman the fee was equivalent to the cost of a one-night stay at the hotel. Even if the hotel had been able to rebook the room, the traveler would not have received a refund.

Elliott did some investigating and found that fees like these are not uncommon in the hotel industry. What concerned him was that the fee was not explicitly stated in the contract, which could leave the door open for hotels to tack on extra, unspecified fees for guests. Could rebooking fees – similar to the fees charged by airlines – be far down the line?

Current Hotel Fees
Many hotels require patrons to cancel their rooms by 6 p.m. the day of arrival, but  some require advance notice as much as 24 to 48 hours ahead of time. Those who do not comply can be faced with a cancellation fee.

Hotels already charge fees for a variety of services – including room service, telephone and internet usage, mini bars and resort fees (for things you might otherwise have thought were complimentary, like the fitness center, pool or newspaper delivery).

Are Hotel Rebooking Fees Next?
While travelers accept such fees for extras, they might not be so understanding about forking over cash for rebooking fees – especially during a recession. Then again, hotels might be able to sneak in the extra charge.

After all, plenty of airline passengers grumble about baggage fees, legroom fees, snack fees, booking fees, rebooking fees and more, yet the number of airline passengers from June 2010 to June 2011 actually increased 2.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Whether or not hotels decide to follow suit, this is still a great reminder to read your contracts before booking a trip.


Photo courtesy of Danc222 on Stock.xchng


Published: October 13, 2011