Finally: Marriott Agrees To Prominently Disclose Resort Fees

Finally: Marriott Agrees To Prominently Disclose Resort Fees

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This is a big win for consumers!

Marriott will show resort fees when booking

The concept of hotels charging resort fees or destination fees has become increasingly common in recent years, and this is frustrating for consumers:

  • With this practice, hotels generally bundle some amenities for a fixed nightly fee, in order to generate more revenue
  • One of the primary motivations for these fees is to initially make the rate seem lower than it actually is; some hotels have a bad habit of “drip pricing,” whereby the cost of a hotel stay increases as you go through the booking process
  • There are some other motivations for these kinds of fees, including online travel agencies not getting commissions on that portion of the rate, and in some areas there are tax benefits to this as well

Marriott faced several lawsuits over the practice of charging resort fees, and there’s finally a victory for consumers here, thanks to a settlement with the Attorney General of Pennsylvania:

Marriott has committed to prominently disclose the total price of a hotel stay, including room rate and all other mandatory fees, on the first page of its booking website as part of the total room rate. Marriott has committed to implementing these changes within the next nine months.

This makes Marriott the first hotel group to formally commit to the upfront disclosure of resort fees as part of the initial advertised price, a practice that should be an industry standard, if you ask me.

It’s worth noting that this specifically applies to properties in the United States, and to the rates being displayed through Marriott’s booking channels.

Marriott will have to disclose fees more clearly

Marriott’s statement about this settlement

Marriott issued the following statement after this settlement was reached:

Marriott International has long been committed to making sure that any resort/destination fees charged by hotels in the U.S. are separately and clearly stated. For many years, consistent with guidance from the Federal Trade Commission, we have clearly disclosed such fees on our channels throughout the booking process, with disclosures on multiple pages before the customer elects to book a room. Further, we have controls in place to ensure that hotels in our system that include a resort/destination fee adhere to strict criteria, which includes a requirement to provide amenities that have a value exceeding the amount of the resort/destination fee. Our agreement with the State of Pennsylvania further enhances the way resort/destination fees are fully disclosed on our U.S. channels and we will be working over the next several months to update the room rate display in accordance with that agreement.

I’d say the only part of that statement that’s honest is the last sentence (and even that is questionable, since the only way to “enhance” resort fees would be to eliminate them.

Marriott is excited to “enhance” resort fees

This will be interesting for online travel agencies

Hotel groups and the major online travel agencies (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.), have a love-hate relationship. The hotel groups do everything in their power to make sure you don’t book through a third party, because they don’t want to pay the commission. That’s why over the years, hotel groups have created all kinds of incentives to book direct, rather than through a third party.

Arguably this settlement has some interesting implications:

  • Historically online travel agencies hated resort fees, since they didn’t get a commission on that portion of the rate; many would even intentionally rank hotels with these fees lower in search results
  • This settlement only applies to rates being displayed through Marriott’s booking channels, and not rates being displayed through third parties
  • In theory online travel agencies have an opportunity here, as they could display rates without these fees, making it appear that you’re paying a much lower rate when booking through them rather than direct with the hotel; whether or not they exploit that opportunity remains to be seen
  • One almost has to wonder if we could eventually see these fees eliminated, since they can’t anymore be used to make rates appear lower upfront, and to the contrary, they give online travel agencies a leg up
I’m curious what the long term implications of this change are

Bottom line

Following a settlement, Marriott will soon consistently start displaying resort fees and destination fees as part of the initial price when doing a search on marriott.com. This is a fantastic development for consumers.

I’ll be watching to see what long term impacts this has on the practice of charging these fees. At a minimum, I suspect this will slow the pace at which hotels add these fees. While I’d certainly love to see resort fees eliminated altogether, I doubt that will happen, unfortunately.

What do you make of Marriott having to more clearly display these fees?

Conversations (26)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    What about other fees? It's not just resort fees. Many hotels are now charging other fees, too and most of which one is not told abut in advance.

  2. Anastasia Guest

    It would have been nice if instead of "prominently disclosing" the settlement had been to include all the things they offer in the room price, since the fee is, ya know, mandatory. But I guess that was too much to hope for. These are completely getting out of control; it's impossible to book a hotel in Manhattan that doesn't charge one.

  3. Anthony Joseph Guest

    So, this is long overdue and full disclosure should be made on all fees. This should include easy access to parking fees.

    Another annoyance is what constitutes resort amenities that a hotel feels entitled to charge a fee. Eg. Sheraton Times Square charges $25+tax for a hotel that does not even have a swimming pool, sub-standard club lounge (way overcrowded), sub-standard food, addt'l charge for alcohol drinks in lounge. 90% of these amenities of...

    So, this is long overdue and full disclosure should be made on all fees. This should include easy access to parking fees.

    Another annoyance is what constitutes resort amenities that a hotel feels entitled to charge a fee. Eg. Sheraton Times Square charges $25+tax for a hotel that does not even have a swimming pool, sub-standard club lounge (way overcrowded), sub-standard food, addt'l charge for alcohol drinks in lounge. 90% of these amenities of resort "fee amenities" are provided as elite benefits.
    Ironically, it is the Marriott franchises in the USA that are up to these shenanigans with fees. And now it is clear from the new executives at Marriott, they are NOT going to protect and enforce the Marriott branding and imaging that is marketed to their franchisees. So one can expect varied and inconsistent service/perks for elite members. What a disappointment as this the same path that IHG started down a few years ago and you can see the difference when you walk into franchise owned properties with poor property standards and poor caliber of service.

  4. PH Guest

    They already implemented this feature months ago. Just check the box “Show taxes and all fees” in search results on Marriott. You’ll see the all-in rate.

  5. Stan Guest

    9 months? If it aided their bottom line, it would take 9 minutes

  6. AC Guest

    Agree it would be good to disclose upfront but frankly anyone with a brain could have figured it out before booking the reservation. It is usually displayed on the final page, along with taxes, where you commit to the reservation.

    Marriott has a box already to click that will display the rate with taxes. My guess is they will still just show base rate on the initial page, maybe with a note that a resort...

    Agree it would be good to disclose upfront but frankly anyone with a brain could have figured it out before booking the reservation. It is usually displayed on the final page, along with taxes, where you commit to the reservation.

    Marriott has a box already to click that will display the rate with taxes. My guess is they will still just show base rate on the initial page, maybe with a note that a resort fee applies, and then show the full rate after someone clicks the box to see taxes and fees. That would likely comply with the agreement and would still show only the base rate for comparison purposes.

    As much as people hate resort fees (I certainly am not a fan) they aren't going away and if Marriott has to add them to the base rate while other hotel chains (and independents) don't Marriott will be at a disadvantage since their rates will appear higher when that may not be the case after all taxes and fees are added. Again, the proposed solution I stated above would accomplish both goals.

  7. Gaurav Community Ambassador

    And if Marriott does not implement this across all locations it's going to create many more frustrated customers. US residents will get used to seeing all in pricing and will assume that is true for international hotels just to get stuck with surprise fees.

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Outside of Mexico and the Caribbean, are resort fees even a thing in Asia and Europe?

  8. ps241 Guest

    "we have controls in place to ensure that hotels in our system that include a resort/destination fee adhere to strict criteria, which includes a requirement to provide amenities that have a value exceeding the amount of the resort/destination fee"

    Does this promise apply at the newly re-opened (but slated for demolition) Grand Central Hyatt in NYC? Early reviews have indicated that there are absolutely no amenities whatsoever, but the hotel is still charging a "resort...

    "we have controls in place to ensure that hotels in our system that include a resort/destination fee adhere to strict criteria, which includes a requirement to provide amenities that have a value exceeding the amount of the resort/destination fee"

    Does this promise apply at the newly re-opened (but slated for demolition) Grand Central Hyatt in NYC? Early reviews have indicated that there are absolutely no amenities whatsoever, but the hotel is still charging a "resort fee".

    1. Common Sense Ninja Guest

      Just dispute the charge?

    2. AC Guest

      Usually doesn't help. Many hotels won't waive it and if you try and dispute with a credit card company they won't provide a refund since you used the service and it was part of the price.

      Sorry no easy "get out of jail free" card for you!

    3. Gaurav Community Ambassador

      No fan of Marriott, but they are not usually responsible for Hyatt flagged properties... :)

  9. Samo Guest

    If you have to pay it, it should be shown from the very first step. It's absurd to display prices without compulsory fees. Basic customer protection regulation could take care of that, just like it is in EU and most of civilised world.

    (One solution actually is to book via EU versions of websites which can't do this.)

    1. Max Guest

      I agree that all additional fees charged by the company should be included in the displayed price. Government taxes should also be shown directly from the start, however in a way that exposes how greedy the government is.

  10. John Shepherd Guest

    Marriott, as is usually the case, has behaved appallingly and dishonestly. (Just look at the recent Uyghur scandal at the Marriott Prague over which Marriott Head Office is trying to escape responsibility. Corporate Marriott in Bethesda doesn't do responsibility...)
    Marriott says: "For many years, consistent with guidance from the Federal Trade Commission, we have clearly disclosed such fees on our channels throughout the booking process, with disclosures on multiple pages before the customer elects...

    Marriott, as is usually the case, has behaved appallingly and dishonestly. (Just look at the recent Uyghur scandal at the Marriott Prague over which Marriott Head Office is trying to escape responsibility. Corporate Marriott in Bethesda doesn't do responsibility...)
    Marriott says: "For many years, consistent with guidance from the Federal Trade Commission, we have clearly disclosed such fees on our channels throughout the booking process, with disclosures on multiple pages before the customer elects to book a room..."
    a) Marriott has never clearly disclosed such fees
    b) More seriously, it is well known and reported on that Marriott (along with the rest of the industry) lobbies the FTC heavily which is why we had to rely on AG Shapiro to take action
    Marriott will continue to rip us all off in as many ways as possible for as long as it can
    However, I do believe the day of reckoning for the entire hotel industry is rapidly approaching - and in so many ways

    1. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      To be fair, Marriott has had an option on its website and mobile app to display search results with all taxes and fees for about a year. But the option wasn't enabled by default nor was the mandatory resort or destination fee specifically broken out until the very end and even then only in fine print. I do hope this settlement applies to destination and service fees, not merely resort fees. It would also be...

      To be fair, Marriott has had an option on its website and mobile app to display search results with all taxes and fees for about a year. But the option wasn't enabled by default nor was the mandatory resort or destination fee specifically broken out until the very end and even then only in fine print. I do hope this settlement applies to destination and service fees, not merely resort fees. It would also be nice if the settlement required full disclosure of what is included in any such fees.

  11. LarryInNYC New Member

    Seems like a nothing burger. Most channels will still list the fake lower rate and it doesn't stop games like a $10 base cost and the moving the rest of the cost to fees that are non-commissionable, non-taxable, and (from our point of view anyway, worst of all) not covered by the points used to redeem for a room.

    Unbundled pricing is a little complex since there are cases in which it might actually make...

    Seems like a nothing burger. Most channels will still list the fake lower rate and it doesn't stop games like a $10 base cost and the moving the rest of the cost to fees that are non-commissionable, non-taxable, and (from our point of view anyway, worst of all) not covered by the points used to redeem for a room.

    Unbundled pricing is a little complex since there are cases in which it might actually make sense. Drawing the line between sensible unbundling and deceptive pricing might not be easy in every situation. But in this situation, yeah, it's pretty straightforward.

    1. Sykes Guest

      Mandatory fees have been taxable almost everywhere for years. Local taxing authorities wised up to the practice pretty early on.

    2. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

      Some hotels will undoubtedly jump to 200,000 points per night with Bonvoy eliminating award charts. Since non-Marriott managed properties determine their own rates, couldn't a cheap owner have $30-$50 nightly rates and $150 nightly fees to ensure nobody ever earns enough points for a free night?

  12. Never In Doubt Guest

    “One almost has to wonder if we could eventually see these fees eliminated”

    I wonder about many things, but not this.

    There’s no chance these fees get eliminated unless a law/government entity eliminates them. There’s no chance the hotels do it on their own.

  13. Kevin Guest

    Marriott can just add them into the price and blame inflation for the price increase.

    #LGB

    1. Ben L. Guest

      The LGB thing is the funniest little tantrum

    2. DCA Will Always Be "National" Guest

      Who'd have thought conservatives would become such advocates for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals? It really is a turning point for them.

    3. Craig Guest

      So, so lame. I saw the LGB meme on a beat to hell Suzuki Sidekick in a ditch this morning. I'll assume that was you.

  14. Echo Guest

    About. Damn. Time.

    Hopefully this is the beginning of the end. Let’s require hotels to all-in pricing (average per night) across all platforms just like airlines do. This is a major win for consumers.

  15. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    I would rather the settlement forces the hotels to fully disclose what the resort fee includes. Sometimes it just says "internet, etc." or "bicycles, etc." And what about a class-action lawsuit against Marriott for charging resort fees that include internet and failing to deliver the replacement benefit since internet is free for all Bonvoy members, not just elites? We're talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of defrauded customers.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Echo Guest

About. Damn. Time. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end. Let’s require hotels to all-in pricing (average per night) across all platforms just like airlines do. This is a major win for consumers.

2
Samo Guest

If you have to pay it, it should be shown from the very first step. It's absurd to display prices without compulsory fees. Basic customer protection regulation could take care of that, just like it is in EU and most of civilised world. (One solution actually is to book via EU versions of websites which can't do this.)

1
DCA Will Always Be "National" Guest

Who'd have thought conservatives would become such advocates for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals? It really is a turning point for them.

1
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