Hotels Breaking Bank By Charging for Services Such as Housekeeping
Telephone and mini-bar charges have long been standard, but the hotel industry is expected to pocket a record $1.8 billion this year with an assortment of new fees for housekeeping, room-service trays, bell hops and early cancellations — services once thought to be part of room rates.
The latest revenue estimate represents an 80 percent increase from 2001, when hotels generated about $1 billion from such fees, according to new study by Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University's Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management.
Travelers have taken note of the new charges and suspect hotels are charging more for nearly everything in hopes that guests won't notice. But hotel industry representatives defend the charges and say hotel guests can avoid many of them by simply choosing not to use the services.
"It's really a consumer choice as to which services they want to get," said Randi Knott, vice president for government and legal relations with the California Hotel & Lodging Assn. Knott had not read Hanson's study but said the increase in revenues generated by such fees are a reflection of better economic conditions in the country.
Hanson estimated that the most revenue came from resort fees of up to $20 per day, early cancellation fees that can equal the room rate, a tray charge of about $2.50 that is added with room service orders and a housekeeping charge of $10 to $13 per day.
And while hotels still make nearly 99 percent of their revenue from hotel rates, Hanson said the fees have been a boon for the lodging industry because many charges are for services that are already included in the hotel rates.
Thus, he said, hotels can make profits of 80 to 90 percent on such fees as housekeeping charges or mini-bar restocking fees.
In the airline industry, the trend of charging passengers extra fees to check bags or order food on a flight has sparked widespread anger and prompted federal regulators to require the airline industry to disclose the extra charges on airline websites.
But Hanson said that airlines are only following the lead of the hotel industry, which began the trend in the late 1990s with the introduction of resort fees, sometimes titled "amenities tariffs."
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