Hotels aren't introducing many new fees after watching travelers' irate reactions to growing airline fees, but they are charging slightly more for fees like room service and Internet that began in the late 1990's.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column about the rise in nitpicky fees and surcharges at U.S. hotels and car rental companies. Now comes a worrisome prediction, reported by tourism researcher Bjorn Hanson of the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
American hotels and resorts will collect $1.95 billion in surcharges and fees this year, up 5.4% over last year and nearly quadruple what they collected in 2002.
Surcharges include resort fees, cancellation fees, internet fees, phone call surcharges, business center fees, in-room safe fees, automatic gratuities and something I never heard of, “early departure charges.” What, if you leave at 11:45 instead of noon they dock you?
As I said in my column “Hotels, car rentals might be nickel-and-diming away your dollars”, travelers should read the fine print when they book hotels. Keep a sharp eye out for resort fees, which can run up to $25 a day in order to get “free” internet, parking or phone calls. Make sure your hotel rate quoted includes taxes.
The hotels are learning from the airlines, which have made major bucks by “unbundling” fees for services.
And look for the cruise industry to be not far behind. I was surprised on a cruise in June to be charged $49 for 1 week of “unlimited” soda for my daughter. This month, Carnival is testing a $49.95 fee to get “priority seating” at dinner on two of its ships. Look for more of these extra charges on cruises, which have always been all-inclusive.
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