It’s no secret that resort fees (and other travel fees, for that matter) are an absolute pain. Advertised prices nearly double once it comes time to book, thanks to undefined fees. As sites like Airbnb and VRBO take off, hotels are having to compete by lowering their prices and offering more amenities. But how do they get away with that? Adding hidden fees that allow them to advertise a lower price to reel travelers in.
With all of these changes, you may be questioning how these resort fees are going to affect the industry. We’re breaking down the future of travel and how we think these pesky fees will impact how you travel from here on out.
What Are Resort Fees?
You’ve likely received your hotel bill only to see fees stacked up, with little to no information about what they’re actually for. The charges, though not mandatory for a hotel, are required to be paid by guests. They’re typically added on for things such as:
● Access to amenities (such as the gym and pool)
● In-room amenities (coffee, cable, etc.)
● Concierge service
● Internet access
● Parking (if not an additional charge)
● Shuttle access
● Bike rentals
The History Of Travel Fees
Resort fees began in 1997, though they were often only found in extremely popular tourist destinations. However, now they are usually found all over the United States at almost every kind of hotel or resort. They were added on–no matter what amenities you used–to entice travelers to stay at the hotel by advertising a lower price.
Since then, travelers from all over the world have complained and petitioned to end them. Ten years ago, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission even warned 22 hotels that their fees were not adequately posted on their website. Since then, consumers have paid billions of dollars in resort fees.
Will Resort Fees Ever Go Away?
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t appear that resort fees are going anywhere anytime soon. However, we are seeing small steps in the right direction. For example, the attorney general of the United States has involved both Marriott and Hilton hotel chains in lawsuits involving their hiding of resort fees.
In most recent news, President Biden announced that he is “cracking down on junk fees,” meaning everything from concert tickets to hotels to flights could drastically shift here in the near future. In his annual speech to Congress, he said, “Junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most other folks in homes like the one I grew up in, like many of you did. They add up to hundreds of dollars a month.”
He’s hoping to have the Junk Free Prevention Act passed through Congress, which bans excessive concert ticket fees, fees for family members to sit with their children on flights, early termination fees for household utilities, and surprise hotel fees. Though this seems like a positive change in the right direction, with current inflation, resorts may be forced to raise their rates to compensate for the loss of revenue. We’re already seeing airfare increase by 25.6% and hotel rates increase by 7.7%.
It’s hard to say if/when this act will be passed, which means that resort fees are here to stay for the time being. So if they’re not going away, what are you supposed to do about it?
How To Avoid Resort Fees
Despite the fact that we’re going to see resort fees stick around, there are a couple of things that you can do to avoid spending extra money when you don’t need to.
Become A Rewards Member
You’ll find that most big hotel chains have reward programs that allow you to accumulate points that you can use on future stays. When booking with points, more often than not, you won’t have to pay those dreaded fees. Some popular hotel chains that don’t hit you with fees when booking with points include Hilton, Hyatt, and Wyndham.
On top of getting points with your stays, you can also accumulate them by using a hotel-chain specific credit card. For example, Hilton has multiple different credit card options where you can earn up to 150,000 points after spending a specific amount of money in the first few months. Chase Sapphire cards are also great for transferring points to your Hyatt account. This does require a little more planning, butit may save you a lot of money in the long run.
Aim For Elite Status
Speaking of reward programs, if you’re traveling often, it may be worth remaining loyal to one hotel chain to gain elite status. Before deciding which one is best for you, take a look at the reward programs, how often you travel, how expensive the stays usually are, and which hotels are most popular in your most-visited destinations.
Book With A Travel Credit Card
Travel credit cards are one of the best tools to use when booking any kind of travel, regardless of travel fees. Not only can you rack up points with your everyday spending, but if done strategically, you can earn countless free vacations. When getting your trips reimbursed using your credit card points, you’ll get the full amount back, including any fees you may have had to pay when booking. For example, if your hotel is $150 (after fees), you’ll receive that entire $150 back.
Research Your Stay
Before booking a hotel, travelers could do their research to find hotels that do not charge resort fees. They could use websites like ResortFeeChecker to compare resort fees across hotels in their destination and choose hotels with lower fees. Doing research can help travelers save money and avoid any surprises at checkout. In all actuality, only about 6% of hotels charge fees. That’s a pretty small percentage in the scheme of things. It may be harder to find if your destination is a popular tourist spot (such as Las Vegas or Hawaii). But with a little patience and some research, it is possible to find some.
Sharing Travel Experiences
Sharing travel experiences through platforms like ShareGurl involves connecting with other travelers who are willing to split the cost of a hotel stay. This is done to reduce the burden of resort fees, which can be a significant expense. By sharing the cost with others, travelers can save money and potentially have a more enjoyable experience by meeting new people.
Negotiating with hotels to waive resort fees or include them in the room rate can be a challenging but potentially effective strategy. This involves reaching out to the hotel and explaining why you think the fees should be waived or included. It may be easier to negotiate during off-peak seasons when hotels are less busy, or for longer stays where hotels are more willing to offer discounts.
Alternatives to Hotels
There are many alternatives to hotels that travelers could explore to avoid resort fees. Vacation rentals, hostels, and camping sites are popular options. These alternatives often have lower fees or none at all, and can provide a unique and more affordable travel experience.
Push for Legislation
Travelers could push for legislation that requires hotels to include all mandatory fees in the advertised room rate. This would make it easier for travelers to compare prices across hotels and avoid any surprises at checkout. This strategy involves advocating for change at a higher level, which could take time and effort.
Some mobile apps like Service and Chatnbook eliminate hidden fees and provide travelers with transparent pricing. These apps work with hotels and other service providers to offer a seamless booking experience and eliminate any additional fees that may be charged. Using mobile apps can make it easier for travelers to avoid resort fees and other hidden fees.
Save Money With Hoken
Here at Hoken, we want to help you save money in any way we can. Although we can’t get rid of those unnecessary fees, we can help you find the best deals out there on some of the hottest hotels around. To plan your next vacation, head over to Hoken, scroll down to our exclusive hotel drops, or search for hotels near some of the most popular events happening around the US!