Photo (cc) by kevin dooley
Cha-ching. That’s the sound of each surcharge on your next hotel bill. Better get used to that sound, because hotel customers are paying for a growing list of chargeable services, from storing luggage to Internet use.
Guaranteeing two queen beds or one king bed will cost you, as will checking in early or checking out late. Don’t need the in-room safe? You’re likely still paying. And the overpriced can of soda may be the least of your issues with the hotel minibar.
Hotel charges vary, even within the same chain, which can make it difficult to figure out the cost of a hotel stay.
But small surcharges add up to big revenue for hotels, which will rake in a record $2.25 billion from extra fees in 2014, according to study by Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. That’s a 6 percent increase since last year and nearly double the revenue hotels took in from surcharges a decade ago.
“The study estimates that hotels can make a profit of roughly 80 percent to 90 percent on fees and surcharges, and that the amount collected has steadily climbed since charging fees became a widely embraced industry practice in the late 1990s,” Time said.
Hotels seem to simply be following the lead of the rest of the fee-happy travel industry, the AP said. Car rental companies are charging additional fees for extras like a navigation system. And the airline industry is notorious for its add-on fees.
“The airlines have done a really nice job of making hotel fees and surcharges seem reasonable,” Hanson told AP.
Hanson recommends paying special attention to the fine print because many once-free hotel services now have a fee associated with them.
Here are a few surcharges hotel customers may face, according to the AP:
- Luggage. More hotels now charge $1 or $2 a bag if you ask them to keep your bag for a few hours after checkout.
- In-room safe. Some hotels charge $1.50 per night.
- Internet use. Charges can range from $10 to $25 per night for Internet.
- Minibar. A number of fees are associated with the hotel room minibar, regardless of whether you actually consume anything. For instance, the Aria Resort in Las Vegas bills for items that have been removed from the minibar for more than 60 seconds, and charges $25 per night if you put your own drinks or food in the minibar fridge.
I don’t think I’d be very happy if I removed a beverage from a minibar fridge for 75 seconds before I decided I didn’t want it, and was still charged for the item. It also seems ridiculous to have to pay an extra fee to reserve a room with two queens.
Have you noticed that you’re footing the bill for extra hotel fees? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.