It appears as though big hotel brands that scream the loudest can get a reprieve from Booking.com's resort-fee commission charges. But that reprieve appears to only be temporary.
That on-again, off-again Booking Holdings introduction of charging hotels commissions on their resort fees or other extra charges quietly is under way — mostly outside the United States.
Booking Holdings spokesperson Leslie Cafferty confirmed Monday that the company began charging hotels commissions on mandatory extra/hidden fees — those excluded from the room rate — including resort fees and parking fees, for example, around the world except for some properties in the United States.
Skift reported in early July that Booking.com informed some major brands in the United States that it would delay charging the commissions on resort fees, a new policy, until January 1, 2020. Several brands, including the Golden Nugget, Wynn, Encore, and Red Rock Resorts in Las Vegas and elsewhere had dropped out of Booking.com when it became known it would start charging commissions on resort fees June 1.
Some U.S. properties complained that they needed the extra time for internal financial forecast planning. What’s unclear is why that wouldn’t apply to hotels outside the United States, as well.
Several U.S. hotels and a hotel association that Skift reached out to Monday confirmed that Booking’s implementation of the resort fee commissions had indeed been delayed until next year.
Vijay Dandapani, CEO of the Hotel Association of New York, said all of the group’s members that he’s aware of had received notification from Booking.com that the resort fee commissions had been delayed until next year.
But Hiran Cooray, chairman of Jetwing Hotels in Sri Lanka, complained to Skift Asia Editor Raini Hamdi this week that Booking.com had recently started charging Jetwing properties a 15 percent commission on its service fees.
For example, Booking.com currently lists a superior double room at Jetwing Lighthouse in Dadella, Galle, Sri Lanka at $318 per night plus a 10 percent “property service charge” along with 7 percent VAT.
Booking.com is charging hotels globally commission on those extra service charges, according to the Booking Holdings spokeswoman, because the company sees these fees as anti-consumer due to their-often hidden nature.
Another major reason for the policy change is due to the fact that hotels are separating the fees from the base room rates to get around commission charges.
“The aim for this is to be consistent everywhere,” Cafferty said of the global policy, which kicked in June 1.
There have been several lawsuits filed, including a District of Columbia lawsuit against Marriott, over resort fee charges for allegedly being deceptive to consumers.
So far Expedia Group has declined to match Booking Holdings and is not charging commission on hotel resort fees, which go by various names such as amenity fees and property service fees. Expedia vows to take the charges into account, however, in determining where to place hotel listings in its search results, or sort order, as it is called.
Skift Asia Editor Raini Hamdi contributed to this report.
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Photo credit: Calamansi Cove Villas by Jetwing in Sri Lanka. The property recently began receiving commission bills from Booking.com on the property's mandatory service fees. Jetwing Hotels