Nine of the charges were “destination fees.”
I had three daily fees, each of which was nearly $35. I also paid separate taxes for sales and occupancy on each of the fees. The total fees came to $240.
‘Junk fees in the hotel business’
I had read about ‘junk fees’ in the industry. They are often referred to as “destination fees”, “destination fees” or “hospitality services” fees.
But, I had also read that the hotel staff would waive them if pressed. However, I did not have the same luck when I checked out of Thompson Central Park New York – a Hyatt Hotel. The front desk staff demanded that the fees be paid. The hotel’s website says that the “destination fees” include amenities such as:
Premium internet access
Access to a fitness center
Concierge business services
Newspapers on request
One bottle of water per guest at check-in
These are all things I assumed would come with my booking, especially since entry-level rates regularly exceed $500 per night. “
- What I got for the fee
- The hotel’s website says its “destination fees” provide amenities like:
- Premium internet access
- Access to a fitness center
- Concierge business services
Newspapers on request
One bottle of water per guest at check-in
Those are all things I presumed would come with my booking, especially since entry-level rates regularly exceed $500 per night.
There’s more. The fees also provide discounts: a free hour on a bike rental (with one paid hour), 6% off The New York Pass for sightseeing, 8% off a hop-on hop-off bus tour, and “exclusive access to 20% off” zoo tickets — all fine things, but nothing I wanted or would use.
‘No way to opt out’
In the competitive luxury hospitality industry — where operators strive for flawless stays and glowing online reviews — hotels with fees run the risk of leaving guests feeling hoodwinked right before they walk out the door.
But the reason isn’t surprising.
“It’s very lucrative,” Rafat Ali, the CEO and founder of the travel media company, Skift, told CNBC. Federal Trade Commission estimates show consumers paid around $2 billion in hotel fees before the pandemic, and mandatory fees have grown since then.
President Joe Biden said in his 2023 State of the Union Address: “We’re going to ban surprise resort fees that hotels charge on your bill. These fees can be as high as $90 per night in hotels that aren’t resorts. “
Kent Nishimura He said it would never happen. He said. “In hotels, this doesn’t work, because you don’t unbundle anything, you just add it on, and there is no way to opt-out. Ali, who wrote an open message to the travel industry on Skift’s website in August 2010, said: “You will not win this junk fee fight.” The reason, he explained, was that these fees are disliked by everyone, even those who disagree with him. Legislation and lawsuits
Lawsuits and legislation were introduced by the U.S. Senate in March to eliminate “excessive and hidden fees”. It also required that total costs are clearly displayed when a price was first shown to the consumer. The Hotel Fees Transparency Act prohibits hotels from advertising rates without mandatory fees. Cq-roll Call, Inc. United, American, and Frontier changed their policies soon.
On Aug. 10, the Attorney General of Texas sued Booking Holdings — which operates popular booking sites like Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda and Kayak — for deceptive trade practices, taking aim at companies that advertise one rate and tack on mandatory fees later in the buying process.
addresses this practice, known as drip pricing, calling it an illegal “bait and switch tactic” that leads more consumers to make purchases either because they don’t notice the new fees or because they begrudgingly accept the fees at the final booking page —
out of a reluctance to start the process all over again.
Pennsylvania lodged a similar complaint against Marriott International Inc. In April 2023, the hotel chain agreed to pay $225,000 to Pennsylvania for failing to comply with agreed settlement terms, which required that Marriott clearly post room rates and mandatory fees.
The issue of transparency
Thompson Central Park’s Salem told CNBC that its
“direct booking channels fully disclose room rates and any fees to guests throughout the booking process. The issue of transparency
Thompson Central Park’s Salem told CNBC that its “direct booking channels fully disclose room rates and any fees to guests throughout the booking process. Booking.com, Expedia and other search engines showed the same results. Maybe I should have been expecting the fees? But I didn’t make the booking online. I made it over the phone. (My family needs connecting rooms, which is a problem in itself.) When we arrived at the hotel, they couldn’t find our booking. We had to make a new reservation on the spot. During these discussions, we talked about rates a lot, but destination fees never came up.
A post from a message board on FlyerTalk.com.
In a statement in support of the Hotel Fees Transparency Act, the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s President and CEO Chip Rogers said the bill “will create a single standard for mandatory fee display.” Even with transparent pricing, some cases could still slip through. The same guest that is happy with a $300 per night rate might balk at $250 for a hotel room plus $50 as a “hospitality fee”. “
An unsatisfying victory Several days after our stay, my husband and I — hell-bent on principle at this point — called the hotel to dispute the fees. We aren’t. We’re not. But because of the check-in mess, we were told that we would be good candidates for getting the fees waived. After weeks of silence, I called my credit-card company to dispute the charges. This was recommended by articles such as this one by consumer advocate Christopher Elliott, who received the same puzzling e-mail that I did touting destination fees “only $30” at a Californian hotel that “guests would genuinely love”. My credit card company immediately removed the charges. This was confirmed by an email that stated: “Your dispute is resolved.” “
But winning wasn’t what I felt. Do not misunderstand me — I was happy to avoid the fees. This was never about money. It’s the unfairness inherent in being given a hotel bill that includes multiple charges you did not expect.