U.S. hotels again set record for revenue from fees

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The charging of resort fees is prevalent in Las Vegas. Pictured, the Palazzo Las Vegas.
The charging of resort fees is prevalent in Las Vegas. Pictured, the Palazzo Las Vegas. Photo Credit: Kobby Dagan/Shutterstock

U.S. hotels again collected a record amount in surcharges and fees last year, according to a NYU School of Professional Studies report.

The total of $2.55 billion was up 4.1% from $2.45 billion in 2014. Hotels’ fees and surcharges have risen every year since 2010 and are up 82% from a decade ago.

At resorts, many operators charge a catch-all daily resort fee that covers Internet usage, access to the pool and fitness center, bottled water, and other services. The practice is prevalent in Las Vegas, and many hotels in Orlando also charge resort fees (but hotels at Universal Orlando and Disney-operated properties do not).  

At non-resort properties, hotels are collecting a la carte fees for items such as Internet usage, early check-in, business-center fees, room-service delivery surcharges and baggage-holding fees.

With total U.S. hotel room revenue pegged to increase 8.4% this year to about $157 billion, according to Phocuswright, surcharges and fees account for about 1.6% of total hotel revenue. Such charges may generate a gross profit of between 80% and 90%, according to the NYU report.

Because of such growth and profit margins, hotel fees are controversial, particularly the daily resort fee, which spurred the creation of ResortFeeChecker.com. Hotel operators are looking to defray costs related to improved technology and other services, but many consumers complain that fees aren’t clearly stated in advance, especially the unavoidable resort fee.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that the Federal Trade Commission may start requiring hotels to include resort fees in the room rate, though FTC officials have declined to comment on it.

In 2012, the FTC warned two dozen hotel operators that they didn’t sufficiently disclose resort fees on their websites.

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