Home Publisher's Point of View A Conversation with the Force Behind ‘Kill Resort Fees’

A Conversation with the Force Behind ‘Kill Resort Fees’

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Glenn Hasek

When Lauren Wolfe traveled to Key West, Fla. with her family in early 2016, she paid $400 per night on Hotels.com for a hotel room. At check-in she was told she would have to pay an additional $20 resort fee per night or not be able to get her room key. This did not sit well at all with Wolfe, an attorney who has worked in Washington, D.C. politics. When she got home, she created the “Kill Resort Fees” website to educate the traveling public about resort fees.

“It’s time to kill the resort fee, the most deceptive and unfair pricing practice in the hotel industry,” Wolfe says on her website.

Having been the victim of surprise hotel fees in my travels, I strongly support Wolfe’s efforts. Have you experienced the same in your travels? Or, are you among those who charge these fees?

In a recent blog I called the fees “greenwashing on a grand scale” because the gaming companies and other companies who tout their green practices are the guiltiest at charging these fees. Shame on them. Las Vegas is the No. 1 fee offender.

Fees Becoming More Widespread

I spoke this past week with Lauren Wolfe. She told me these fees are becoming more widespread. “You used to never see it in New York City,” she says. Now, hotels in the Big Apple are among the worst offenders.

The word has long gotten out about deceptive fees and Wolfe says they are now impacting tourism to Las Vegas. “It is hurting the overall economy. Nobody will stop doing it because it is competitive pricing. It is a blatant consumer scam. They cheat Americans out of $1 billion a year.”

Wolfe says the fees are job killers. “It is hurting housekeepers and those who rely on tips,” she says. Travelers pinched by additional fees have fewer dollars to share. Because the fees are collected separate from the room rate, they are also not subject to the hotel tax rate. Some local economies are missing out on millions of dollars of tax revenue annually.

I asked Wolfe about the role of the AHLA in all of this and she told me, “The AHLA is the corporate hotel lobby and into making money at all costs. AHLA funnels money to politicians. These politicians don’t do anything about the issue.”

Wolfe says that for travelers there is some hope on the horizon. H.R.4489—the Hotel Advertising Transparency Act of 2019 was introduced last September. If you read the bill, you will see that it also applies to home sharing companies such as Airbnb. The key phrase in the legislation: “No person with respect to whom the Federal Trade Commission is empowered under section 5(a)(2) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45(a)(2)) may advertise in interstate commerce a rate for a place of short-term lodging that does not include all required fees, excluding taxes and fees imposed by a government.”

Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), one of the sponsors of H.R.4489, in a television interview about the bill, said, “Treat hotels like airlines. Just tell us what the price is, period. This creates a level playing field.”

H.R.4489 is a start but I am not hopeful that our industry will do the right thing or that consumers will see any relief from these deceptive fee practices anytime soon.

Your thoughts? I can be reached at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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Green Lodging News is always looking to profile sustainability champions in our Personnel Profile section. If you would like to nominate someone for this section of Green Lodging News, contact me at (813) 510-3868, or by e-mail at greenlodgingnews@gmail.com.

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Those advertising in Green Suppliers Spotlight can include up to 100 words, one image, contact information and multiple links to their website in their ad. At the end of each month, a report will be sent to each supplier with information on delivered e-mails, opens and click-throughs.

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