Home Hotels Dear Marriott CEO: Resort Fees Aren’t Similar To Checked Bag Fees, They’re Actually Like This

Dear Marriott CEO: Resort Fees Aren’t Similar To Checked Bag Fees, They’re Actually Like This

by joeheg

Resort fees are almost universally unpopular. No one likes searching for a hotel and finding a good price, only to find out the price is actually more than you thought because this fee will be added to your bill. We’ve written about resort fees before, what they are and how you can try to avoid staying at a hotel that charges them.

These fees are in the news because of a lawsuit filed against Marriott by the DC Attorney General, claiming the fees hide the true price of a hotel room, which they do. No matter how much the hotels say the fees are disclosed, there’s no reason why you book a room and you’re told you’re going to pay X but you actually are going to pay X + Fee.

It’s no surprise that Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson was asked about the lawsuit and the fees during an interview with LinkedIn. He said the fees aren’t going away but they’re a good value for what you get in return. He also defends that the fees are well disclosed when booking a room. There’s one part of his comments that has everyone shaking their heads.

He starts his defense of the fees by admitting they’re unpopular but then immediately puts them in the same category as airline baggage fees. As many others have pointed out, this is a flawed analogy. Baggage fees are optional. You don’t have to bring a bag if you don’t want to pay the fee. You can ship your bag to your destination or you can even wear all of your clothes (well, maybe not so much. I mean, look at what happened when this guy tried to do that).

You can’t not pay the fee. It’s mandatory even if you don’t want to use any of the things you supposedly get for that money. You might have gotten some of the things included in the fee anyway, like enhanced internet but then you don’t get any amount of the fee refunded in those cases.

So if resort fees aren’t like baggage fees, what are they like?

Entertainment Fee

Imagine the next time you go to book a flight, you see this disclaimer on the payment screen:

Your flight includes our in-flight entertainment system. There will be a $10 Entertainment Fee added to your final ticket price which gives you the following:

  • Access to our catalog of new and classic movies and TV shows
  • Listen to hundreds of albums from our music selection
  • USB power port so you can watch your own device if you choose

Delta IFE screen

Would you be happy having to pay this fee?

It’s not optional. The screens are there regardless if you planned on using them or not. Sure, people will use the screens. Of course they will, they’ve paid for them, might as well get your money worth.

Sure you can go and try to save the $10 by booking a flight that doesn’t have entertainment screens, just the same way people now avoid booking hotels that charge resort fees. But maybe this is the perfect flight for you. Just as the perfect hotel might charge a resort fee, all you can do is pay it.

What makes it even worse is you’re now getting asked to pay for something that was included in the base price before. The only thing that would keep airlines from charging this for every flight is that not all planes have entertainment screens. That’s the same logic Mr. Sorenson used for why some hotels can’t charge resort fees; there’s nothing at those hotels they can charge more for.

Final Thoughts

This is what paying a resort fee feels like. You’re being forced to pay money for something you may or may not use. There’s no value in that. You could have just charged me if I used it. Or if you really think it’s a critical item, just include it in the price in the first place instead of tacking it on at the end.

So just remember this:

I really loved our hotel but the best thing about the stay was the resort fee. Said no one ever.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian July 15, 2019 - 2:18 pm

Well said.

Dave Tipsword July 15, 2019 - 5:14 pm

Let’s call resort fees what they really are……a F*** Y** fee, because they can.

PETER LAWRENCE July 15, 2019 - 6:43 pm

I think the focus should be about “bait and switch”. Hotels are businesses and should be able to charge what the market will bear for their rooms and services. However, just think if Marriott advertised “$10 hotel rooms”. When you went to book the room there was a disclosure that the hotel charged s “$290 a night resort fee”. The is really no difference between current policy and the extreme example I am giving above. The only thing different from a typical $28 Resort Fee and the $290 Resort Fee is that hotels use the $28 because that is what they feel they can get away with without you saying “Let me shop around some more”. What would elected officials say if a car dealer advertised a $10 a month lease and then in the small print said you needed to have a $20,000 down payment? No one would stand for it. It would be constructively false advertising.

joeheg July 15, 2019 - 8:55 pm

I think the whole problem with these fees is the mandatory nature of their existence. Price the room what you want. If you want to have that price show up on a search but showing that it includes all these extras, then fine. That’s what all-inclusive properties do.
My example tried to be like a comparable situation on an airline. I also thought of it is like renting a car but not having it include any gas, which you must purchase for an extra fee.

rick July 15, 2019 - 9:19 pm

I don’t get all the excitement about this. It only happens in the US as anywhere else it is illegal. So it only affects a small portion of travellers

Wildcat4mation July 16, 2019 - 11:54 am

Yet u.s. citizens do not want to have to pay it. Just because it affects the few, does not mean people should have to pay it. We did not even get a vote on it.


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