Mysterious and much-maligned hotel “resort fees” and “amenities charges” may finally be on the run, after hospitality giant Marriott International recently became the first major hotel chain to commit to disclosing all such fees to guests upfront as part of the booking process.
Will others follow suit? That’s the big question as market watchers dissect Marriott’s decision.
After a highly publicized investigation by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro into ambiguous fees that hotel and resort operators claim offset the cost of things like Wi-Fi access on-property, Marriott said it is instituting new price transparency rules for travelers.
As USA Today recently reported, “The Maryland-based hospitality company has committed to show the sum of its room rates and all mandatory fees – including resort fees – on the first page of its booking website after reaching a settlement with the attorney general’s office.”
Changes will be implemented over the next nine months, according to that report.
Per a statement from the Pennsylvania AG’s office, “Over the years, travelers have been reportedly misled by the published rates offered by hotels for a night’s stay, only later to be hit with ‘resort fees’ through the hotel industry’s practice of ‘drip pricing,’ where the rate advertised does not include additional mandatory fees.”
AG Shapiro added that “hotels shouldn’t be able to slap hidden fees on top of your bill at the last minute, and thanks to this settlement, we’re putting the hotel industry on notice to put an end to this deceptive practice.”
“With costs going up and more seniors and families traveling for the holidays, consumers should beware of these surprise fees when booking. Marriott has stepped up to commit itself to fixing this practice, and we expect more hotel chains to follow suit,” Shapiro added.
While the resort fee imbroglio predates the pandemic, COVID’s impact on the travel and hospitality sector has renewed consumer complaints about what many see as a deceptive practice designed as click-bait for bookers who learn the true trip costs when the bill is presented.
As the industry waits to see who (if anyone) follows Marriott’s lead in resort fee transparency, the wider travel sector is taking a hard look at what payments management requires today.
According to The Smart Receivables Playbook, a PYMNTS and Flywire collaboration, “most large companies in the travel and tourism sectors are unhappy with their approaches to payments management. The majority (58%) rate their firms’ payments operations as only ‘somewhat’ effective, and 14% say their systems are ineffective. Just 28% of travel-sector respondents indicated being satisfied with their current approaches.”
Get the study: The Smart Receivables Playbook