There’s nothing like a new or hidden fee to raise the ire of travelers. It’s rare, however, to see a company actually rescind a fee, let alone admit it might have been a bad idea.
But MGM Resorts had to do just that this week after a Tribune Media Services column printed in the Seattle Times reported the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas had begun charging guests $20 during the online booking process to guarantee a nonsmoking room.
That prompted a press release from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “No one should have to pay extra to avoid exposure to a harmful substance that causes lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses," the group said. "What will MGM charge for next? A room without asbestos? One with a sprinkler system or fire alarm? One without bed bugs?”
MGM the next day said it had “reversed a short-lived policy of charging a small fee to guarantee guests a non-smoking room reservation."
"This was a case where what seemed a positive idea as an inventory management practice, could easily be perceived as something else entirely,” company spokesman Gordon Absher said in an emailed response. “We regret having implemented this policy before recognizing the inappropriate message it might have sent to some of our customers.
Absher said that, “Like aisle and window seats on an airplane, when a flight fills up some passengers must sit in a middle seat. The same is true for a full hotel. Despite our best efforts, we are sometimes unable to provide guests with the floor, view or room style they prefer.
“Hotel guests are asked for their smoking preference, and every effort is made to oblige that request.
There are times when we simply run out of nonsmoking rooms. However, we are unaware of any hotel that can guarantee guests a nonsmoking room. (Read the small print on your confirmation.)
"This policy was a way for guests to personalize their stay, by allowing them to upgrade a reservation to guarantee a particular preference: Room style, floor, view. Nonsmoking room was included as one of the guaranteed options. Nonsmoking rooms have since been removed from that list."
Absher also noted that several guests have already complained that they can no longer book the guaranteed nonsmoking room.
-- By Jeri Clausing