Hotels will not win the PR battle over resort fees
 
Hotels will not win the PR battle over resort fees
28 JUNE 2019 7:26 AM

Resort fees mean guests pay more, pure and simple. If hotel companies want to charge them, fine, but don’t be surprised that guests don’t like them and other companies take advantage of that.

In the court of public opinion, hotels that charge resort fees are going to lose—every time.

You can argue all you want in favor of them. You can explain your justifications for having them, that they cover the cost of the spa, the pool, towels, Wi-Fi, gym access, breakfast, etc.

No one on the other side of the front desk likes them or will like them. It’s not difficult to understand why. It’s an extra charge they don’t see a need for. That’s extra money out of their wallets, out of their bank accounts for each night of their stay. It doesn’t matter if the property is actually a resort or not (that’s not exactly true, actually, as its harder for guests to understand why they’re paying an extra fee for a non-resort property, even if the fee is named something else).

We live in capitalist society. Companies are profit-driven, so it makes sense when they do what they can to maximize profit. Resort fees, as we hear so often, are pure profit.

But again, as we live in a capitalist society, there’s another side to that coin. Companies want to make as much revenue as they can while minimizing costs as much as they can. Consumers are no different. They want to get as much of a product or service as they can while paying as little as they can.

You know what’s not going to help your argument? How the online travel agencies are approaching resort fees. Booking.com plans to charge a 15% commission on the resort fees that hotels charge on top of their regular commission, The Wall Street Journal reports. The company has stated it’s doing this to encourage hotel companies to reconsider resort fees.

“At the end of the day, resort fees are a bad consumer experience across the board,” Leslie Cafferty, SVP and head of global communications for Booking Holdings, told the newspaper. “It’s definitely been their intent to raise additional revenue by charging additional fees.”

Expedia Group has stated it’s not planning to charge an extra commission on resort fees, but it will give hotels without mandatory resort fees “higher visibility to travelers on our sites.”

Now, I don’t believe for a second that these OTAs are doing this out of any altruistic reasoning on behalf of the traveling public. What it does do, however, is make them at least appear to be on the consumers’ side against hotels that charge resort fees. For those who already believe OTAs save them money when booking a hotel room, this only solidifies their beliefs. For those who didn’t have a strong opinion one way or the other, this might sway them toward OTAs.

Booking.com charging an extra commission isn’t going to stop hotels from having resort fees. The company knows this, so it’s actually a double whammy in that the company gets to make more money off the hotels charging the fees they’re supposedly fighting against while at the same time looking like an advocate on behalf of consumers.

Expedia’s approach does seem more altruistic in that it doesn’t profit from resort fees directly like Booking.com will, and it promotes properties without the additional charge, but I don’t buy it 100%. Resort fees have existed for years now, and the company is only now taking a stand against it now that Booking.com is doing something about it?

So what are you going to do about it? You can try to lessen the loss through negotiations with Booking.com and any other OTAs to do something similar. You can argue with Expedia about the visibility of your property. You can explain personally to each guest at your resort-fee-charging hotels the necessity of these fees until you’re blue in the face. It won’t make a difference to the consumers.

You’re just going to have to accept that most guests are going to hate these fees. How much this particular area of guest dissatisfaction (which you absolutely can control) bothers you is up to you. Just know you’re unlikely to win them over in the future, especially as there are other companies now looking to “ally” with consumers.

How do you think the hotel industry will respond to OTAs “taking a stand” against resort fees? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me at bwroten@hotelnewsnow.com or @HNN_Bryan.

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