Travelers may complain about fees and surcharges added to every hotel stay, but it would seem that they’re getting used to paying the extra charges—to the tune of $2.47 billion in 2015. That’s the estimated amount of hotel fees that properties in the United States will collect from customers this year, according to a report published this morning by Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D., clinical professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies, Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.
The estimate represents an increase in hotel fees of just over 5 percent over the record $2.35 billion worth of surcharges amassed in 2014, which would make 2015 the fifth consecutive year that the hotel industry breaks its own record with the tacked-on revenue.
The good news is that 3 percent of the increase comes from more room nights being booked across the country—yet another strong indicator that the travel industry has started booming again after the post-Great Recession slowdown. The remaining 2 percent is a result of new and slightly higher hotel fees being charged.
Some of the new hotel fees are for early check-in (especially in Las Vegas) and for reserving a specific room type (e.g., a king instead of two queens) and holding checked luggage. That’s on top of the ubiquitous (and nebulous) resort fees charged at many properties.
The only drops in hotel fees seen since they started being tracked in 2000 occurred in 2002 and 2009, following 9/11 and the advent of the Great Recession, respectively.
There’s occasional debate in the industry about including the surcharges in room rates, but many hotels believe the increasingly competitive market demands that they show the lowest possible room rate to entice customers to click the big “Book Now” button.
For travelers, whether they be venturing out on business or pleasure, it means it’s more important than ever to read the fine print to get a realistic idea of the total cost when booking a room.