Much of the so-called drip pricing seems to be a thing of the past for the world’s largest hotel company.
Over the past few years, resort fees have often topped the list of travel inconveniences because these fees — which sometimes approach $100 a night — aren’t usually included in the nightly rate originally listed for a hotel.
US President Joe Biden has targeted this practice in its State of the Union address earlier this year, and Marriott was even the target of an investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general into how the company handled resort fees.
Marriott eventually settled with the Pennsylvania AG. While Marriott has maintained that it’s always transparent about how it charges fees (often in a blue box noting additional fees at the top of a booking window), the company is now bundling resort fees into one rate. .
A sample reservation for New York City Marriott hotels this week shows that the Times Square Edition, Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel, New York Marriott Marquis and other Marriott-affiliated hotels in the area included ‘destination amenity’ in the nightly rate and noted that this charge was part of the overall charge.
However, fee transparency goes beyond online bookings. All rate displays for a Marriott reservation must now include the resort or destination fee, and call center agents must also include the fee in their overall rate quotes. A view of the wing reported.
Marriott and all of its competitors charge resort and destination fees, but if Marriott is now bundling its prices, does that mean the industry will follow?
Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano defended the company’s overall transparency during a recent company earnings call, but he didn’t reveal whether or not he thinks the entire industry would follow.
“It’s not like these are somehow hidden. We’re just clarifying and improving that transparency further,” Capuano said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call earlier this month. “I’ll leave the rest of the country to the state (Attorney General) for the rest of the industry. But I’m glad we’re leading the industry in terms of our disclosure transparency for our clients.
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This isn’t the end of resort fees from Marriott or any of its competitors — and it’s not clear that other hotel companies will immediately follow Marriott’s lead.
Examples of bookings throughout the month in cities like New York and Boston showed that Hilton, Accor, IHG and Hyatt hotels all charged resort or destination fees, but did not include them in the originally posted rate.
However, they all noted the charges before departure.
Marriott’s unique status as a resort fee consolidator could eventually change, as there is speculation that other lawsuits from attorneys general in states like California and Texas as well as the District of Columbia could inspire. other hotel companies to settle like Marriott did with Pennsylvania.
Resort Fees: A Cash Cow Travelers Hate
While resort fees are targeted by Biden’s proposed Unwanted Fee Prevention Act, Capuano previously defended Marriott’s handling of resort fees by noting that the company has always labeled the extra fee during the booking process. .
However, a audit included in Pennsylvania lawsuit of Marriott hotels charging resort fees in the last five months of 2015, only 67% of Marriott-affiliated properties that charged resort fees disclosed the fees at the time of booking.
Marriott has made at least $206 million on resort and destination fees at its self-managed resorts since 2012, according to the lawsuit in Pennsylvania. These fees ranged from $9 to $95 per night.
The curious cut
Online travel agencies like Expedia and Priceline continue to display resort fees independent of an overall rate per night.
If more hotel companies migrate to Marriott’s model and online travel agencies post a perceived lower rate, this becomes a potential competitive advantage (at least at face value) in the ongoing battle between OTAs and the direct booking. Hotel companies still prefer travelers to book direct because it means they don’t have to pay more than a percentage of a discounted rate per night to an outside brand like Expedia.
Keep in mind: booking with an OTA usually means you will not earn loyalty points for your stay.