In the travel world, fees charged by airlines get the most attention, and for good reason: Fliers forked out $22.6 billion in airlines fees last year, on top of flight prices that seem to be hiked higher every other month. Compared to the airlines, hotels in the U.S. are able to fly under the radar, so to speak, as they’re on pace to collectively pull in a “mere” $1.95 billion in fees and surcharges in 2012. But that sum represents an all-time high, and it’ll come on the heels of the record high hit just last year.
According to a report from the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the U.S. lodging industry is forecast to collect a record high $1.95 billion in fees and surcharges this year. That’d be a $100 million increase over 2011, when the current all-time high of $1.85 billion in hotel fees was reached.
The numbers have nothing to do with state and local taxes, but instead include a spectrum of charges such as “resort or amenity fees, early departure fees, early reservation cancellation fees, internet fees, telephone call surcharges, business center fees (i.e. charges for receiving faxes and sending/receiving overnight packages), room service delivery surcharges, mini-bar restocking fees, charges for in-room safes, and automatic gratuities and surcharges,” according to the report. The rise in total fees collected doesn’t appear to be the result of new fees being added by hotels and resorts, but rather due to an increase in the amount charged for existing fees.
It’s safe to say that hotel guests don’t like any of these fees. But they seem to hate some fees more than others. The idea that you can be charged for checking out early due to an emergency (i.e., the “early departure fee”) can drive some consumers batty.
In a way, it is possible to quantify the degree to which guests are aggravated by another, more common fee—the one charged for Wi-Fi. The J.D. Power hotel guest satisfaction study released this past summer offered some numerical evidence that Wi-Fi fees make a hotel stay worse.
In the study, hotels that charged for Wi-Fi received an average score of 688 on a 1,000-point scale. That’s 76 points lower than hotels that included Wi-Fi for free.
What’s especially noteworthy is that most low-end and mid-range hotel brands don’t charge Wi-Fi fees. The segment that’s most likely to hit guests with these fees is the luxury category—the group you’d expect to include more with the higher price of lodging, and to receive much higher guest satisfaction ratings.