Survey shows guests want full disclosure on hidden hotel fees

Hidden fees are a part of today's travel experience, as high occupancy gives hotels more leeway than ever to experiment with which fees guests find acceptable. However, a new poll, commissioned by non-profit group Travelers United, found that guests want to know about fees in advance.

USA Today reported that the poll found 80 percent of respondents want resort fees to be included in advertised pricing for easier comparison shopping. Additionally, 87 percent said they would be deterred from staying at a hotel or resort if charged a fee for amenities or services they did not use. The responses came from 1,100 registered voters nationwide, interviewed from Aug. 17 to 27. 

The industry is not likely to change its tune on fees until consumers vote with their wallets, however. USA Today reported that U.S. hotels are projected to make $2.47 billion from fees and surcharges alone this year, and with occupancy continuing to climb and often surpass supply there is aren't enough rooms available.

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Rosanna Maietta, spokesman for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, defended the industry to The Los Angeles Times, describing hotels and resorts as "transparent" about mandatory fees and claiming such fees are charged by only 7 percent of hotels in the U.S.

"Making sure guests have all the necessary information prior to booking their room is paramount," she told The Los Angeles Times.

In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission mailed warnings to 22 hotels to begin disclosing their hidden mandatory fees, but that decision was reversed in July. Airline carriers and travel agents remain under order to disclose mandatory fees, but hotels have no such restriction. 

In October, Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor for the NYU School of Professional Studies and the Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, said he was unsure if the FTC's warnings did anything to alter hotel fee practices, but since then he said the industry has improved in disclosing some fees. Even still, new fees are being created at a rapid pace to capitalize on the industry's good times, such as an "early-arrival fee" for travelers to check into their rooms before scheduled times.

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