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Exploring Innovative Strategies by Expensive Hotels to Increase Costs for Guests

by Venus Sanders

The hospitality industry seems to have discovered a new avenue for boosting their revenue, and it involves imposing extra charges on customers that check in early or check out late, a practice that was once an occasional courtesy. This trend has raised eyebrows as hotels increasingly resort to such tactics to bolster their profits, even as they cut back on fundamental amenities like daily housekeeping.

Reports from the Wall Street Journal shed light on how hotels across the country are subjecting their patrons to a range of "junk fees," including perplexing resort charges and exorbitant parking fees. The White House has taken note of this troubling trend, and President Biden has expressed his concern. He has directed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to address this mounting issue of hidden extra charges that are collectively costing Americans substantial sums, potentially in the tens of billions of dollars.

The infamous TWA Hotel at Kennedy Airport in New York City is one such example, charging guests a hefty fee of up to $150 for a late check-out. Meanwhile, the Hyatt Place Boston Seaport has adopted a similar approach, hitting guests with an additional $50 for staying past 1 p.m., and this amount rises by $25 every subsequent hour until 3 p.m.

Critics argue that once customers acquiesce to paying these fees, it sets a precedent that can make it increasingly difficult to resist such charges in the future. Traveler and precious-metals dealer Wei Chang, a frequent hotel guest, emphasizes the importance of resisting these fees, encouraging others not to give in.

However, those within the industry, such as Anna Marie Presutti, the VP and General Manager of San Francisco's Hotel Nikko, defend these fees as reasonable compensation for convenience. She explains that these fees help cover the cost of readying rooms early for guests, which entails additional housekeeping expenses. She asserts that hotels like hers are merely passing these costs on to consumers and not profiting from these early check-in charges.

Even for loyal customers, these fees often prove to be unavoidable. Amy Franks, a Florida travel agent who holds diamond status in Hilton's loyalty program, experienced the disheartening reality of being charged extra at an Orlando Doubletree for checking in early, despite her esteemed status. She recounts receiving a generic response from the hotel, citing their policy as justification for the charge.

This surge in extra charges highlights the changing landscape of the hospitality industry, where profitability appears to be the driving force behind many decisions. The current push for additional fees coupled with a reduction in once-standard services like daily housekeeping underscores a broader shift in the industry's approach to customer experience.

Image Credit: Lisa K. Stephenson / She's SINGLE Media, San Antonio, TX

President Biden's focus on addressing these fees and the concerns raised by consumers is a step toward holding the industry accountable for these practices. As the battle over hotel fees rages on, consumers must remain vigilant in their understanding of their rights and the options available to them. As the dynamics of the hospitality industry evolve, patrons should demand transparency and fairness, ensuring that their travel experiences remain positive and financially sound.


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