A few years ago, the Transportation Department ordered a big change in airline pricing: It said that fare quotes must include all the mandatory taxes and fees that airlines had previously shown separately, usually in tiny type at the bottom of an ad.
Shouldn’t the same principle apply to hotel rates? The Federal Trade Commission apparently doesn’t think so.
One of the most contentious areas of hotel pricing in recent years has been the spread of “resort fees” — a mandatory charge for the availability of various hotel amenities and services (like fitness rooms, swimming pools, daily newspapers, etc.) that all guests have to pay, whether they use those things or not. The fees can amount to a significant percentage of the room rate. For example, in Las Vegas, resort fees now regularly exceed $30 per day.
A consumer group called Travelers United recently asked the FTC to require that hotels roll those charges into their room rates, since not paying them is not an option (as it is with airline checked bag fees, for example). But the FTC turned down the request.
Apparently the agency thought it took sufficient action back in 2012, when it warned the hotel industry that customers had to be notified up front — before booking — about any mandatory resort fees. but it stopped short of requiring hotels to roll those charges into their rates.
Meanwhile, apparently concerned that the resort fee is getting a bad name, some hotels are starting to call it something else. Variations include the “amenity fee” and the “service fee.” Why don’t hotels just include it in their room rate? Because showing a lower room rate is key to winning bookings through Internet search engines.
Readers: What’s the largest resort fee you’ve ever paid? Did you know about it before you booked the room?
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