Many travelers believe that hotels and resorts should be required to include mandatory resort fees in advertised nightly rates, according to a new national poll.
The poll, commissioned by Travelers United, a non-profit group with 23,000 members, found that 80% of consumers want resort fees included in advertised pricing so that they can comparison shop.
And 87% said they would be less willing to stay at a hotel or resort that charged a fee for activities or amenities they did not use.
A total of 1,100 registered voters nationwide were interviewed by telephone from Aug. 17 to 27 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Jacksonville, Fla. on behalf of Travelers United, which has been fighting against the practice of so-called drip pricing for years.
Many U.S. hotels and resorts charge mandatory fees for amenities such as use of fitness facilities, pools and WiFi. This year, U.S. hotels are projected to make a record $2.47 billion from fees and surcharges, according to a study by New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.
The Federal Trade Commission in 2012 acknowledged that many hotels and resorts were not mentioning the fees at all or if they did, they used fine print or vague language such as “additional fees may apply.”
That year, the FTC sent warning letters to 22 hotel operators that were possibly violating the law by misrepresenting the price consumers would actually be paying for hotel rooms. But the FTC has stopped short of taking legal action.
“When they advertise the room, if it’s mandatory, if there’s no way you can wiggle out of it, you have no choice, it’s not an option, it must be included in the room rate, otherwise it’s misleading and deceptive,” says Charlie Leocha, co-founder and chairman of Travelers United.
Some members of Congress have also called on the FTC to better police the practice.
In July, Senators Claire McCaskill.(D-MO) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) sent letters asking the FTC to take a more aggressive stance on the practice.
“As a result of this pricing scheme, American consumers are at risk of paying substantial resort fees hidden to the public eye in securing their travel accommodations,” he wrote. “This practice is misleading and unfair to the many Americans who book hotel rooms online.”