I have some time off soon and plan to head back to see some family. I also thought that it might be nice to spend a few days in Vegas. I’ve only been there once, and yes I realize that its still quite warm there… but I don’t really get to choose when I get time off. I started researching hotels in Vegas and reading some sites about things to do. One of my biggest turn offs are hidden fees.
As an American living in America it is expected, and it makes price shopping nearly impossible. You don’t know what the doctor will charge you until you’re seen, your internet or cable TV bill will have a mountain of hidden charges, as will your mobile phone bill. You have no idea what you’ll actually be paying until you get your first real bill and see a break down of all the unlisted and unadvertised fees.
Add to that the “resort fee”, something that is almost always tacked on only at the checkout or payment page when you doing an online booking. Sure 2 similar rooms are $79 a night, but one has a $30 resort fee, and the other a $45 fee. You don’t see it until you are ready to checkout, which means that unless you are willing to spend a lot more time doing research into the price of your room you’ll miss it.
Whats sad is that these hotels are constantly raising them too. Its something that anyone outside of the US will likely not have experienced, so they won’t even know what to watch out for until after they’ve booked a room and spent a lot more per night than they had planned to. I understand that I’ve only been to a small percent of the overall countries, but in all my travels this seems to be a purely American thing.
Also to be clear this is not a city tax for people staying in a hotel as some popular tourist destinations will charge. This is a fee created by the hotel only as a way to extort more money from its guests. They attempt to justify this fee by saying that it pays for things like WIFI, or a free bottle of water in the room, or the pool they have. These are things which overall have next to no cost to the hotel to provide, and have been built into the cost of the room rental for just about ever.
Adding to the cash grab it seems that online booking sites only get a percent of the nightly rate. Anything extra like city tax, or resort fee is not something that the booking site will get. So this essentially cheats their partner companies out of money that they deserve. One popular online booking site booking.com is changing their policy to also include a cut from these resort fees. As I’ve read online, some hotels have dropped out of partnerships with this company, but that they were smaller hotels that largely would not greatly impact the overall revenue of the company.
Some people are speculating that this could signal the end of the resort fee as it was just a way to keep more of the money for themselves and not to share with their partners. I am a lot more skeptical and think that it will remain, and increase. The reason why I think it will only go up is that these hotels have become accustomed to these extra profits. Now that they’ll have to share they could be giving up 20-30% of these fees to their partners, and it is more of a cost than many are willing to eat.
Again there is no reason not to add this price into the nightly room rate and properly list the full room rate so people can price shop, except for the reason that they don’t want you to price shop, and they want to squeeze extra money out of their guests. The FTC almost outlawed this a few years ago, but after the 2016 elections they backed off of it. In Australia they made it so that the price that is advertised is the price that you will pay. Truth in advertising.
So far, the only way I’ve seen to avoid paying this ridiculous fee (other than to avoid hotels that charge it) is to book directly with the hotel through their website & be a member of their loyalty program. Often this will not wave the entire fee, but only portion of it, and not all hotels will wave any of the fee for doing this. Another way which may reduce or wave fees depending on the hotel or time when you plan to stay is to call the hotel. Make sure that you do research ahead on this and know what the going rates are both on companies site as well as your preferred online booking site. Then tell them that you are considering staying with them but you don’t plan to use various services provided and ask them to wave the fee. If they don’t, be ready to walk away, but also let them know the reason you will stay with a competitor is because of shady and underhanded fees like this. It is likely the only way that this practice will end.
In my research I was able to find 4 hotels in Vegas that do not charge a resort fee:
I do not recommend or endorse any of the above hotels, they’re only listed because they give you the true price without hiding anything.