Whether it’s for work or a holiday getaway, stays in hotels can be expensive enough. And now it seems some hotel booking sites are being sneaky with the non-optional fees, leaving guests caught out.
Remember those ‘flights for 99p’ that would actually cost closer to £99 once taxes, fuel surcharges and credit card fees were added? The government has gone some way to sorting this out with the airline industry. But now hotels are at it.
Many unsuspecting guests at hotels in the Caribbean and America, especially Las Vegas, Florida and New York, ask for their bill at checkout – only to find an extra, non-optional ‘resort fee’ has been added. And it’s pricey, typically £15 to £25 per room, sometimes double that.
Unavoidable hotel fees
The fee covers the guest’s use of facilities, from gyms to phone calls. Details of the charge are often buried in T&Cs, so you’ll be forced to pay, even if you didn’t use anything it covers.
EU-based hotel booking sites are required to be explicit about all non-optional fees, not hide them. But at least two hotel booking sites are making it very difficult to find details about the fees, potentially misleading consumers about the cost of their hotel.
Extras from Expedia
Expedia has already been reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for this lack of transparency. It stated that all taxes and fees were included in a booking for Westhouse Hotel, New York, even though the guest was expected to pay an extra $30pp (£20) a day resort fee. The ASA ordered it to make these fees clearer after a complaint.
ASA ruling for change
We looked at five hotel booking sites: Ebookers, Expedia, Hotels.com, Lastminute.com and Opodo to see how clearly they displayed non-optional charges for the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas.
Three of the hotel sites we looked at, Ebookers, Lastminute.com and Opodo had clearly displayed resort fees. However, Expedia and Hotels.com’s $28 (£19) charges were easy to miss and were not listed alongside the price of the room. You had to scroll to the bottom of the page or click a button to see it.
We think that both websites need to be much clearer in how they display these non-optional fees. They are not listed clearly beside the room price, where we think they should be. Expedia told us it had made initial changes to its site after the ruling and was planning further improvements. Hotels.com said that it is also looking into the matter.
The ASA said that the ruling it made applies not just to Expedia but also to all companies in the holidays and travel sector.
It said: ‘If anyone has concerns that an advertiser isn’t being upfront about non-optional charges we encourage them to get in touch with us.’
Do you know about the resort fee and expect it on your bill? Or have you been caught out at the end of your stay?
No never (maybe I need to book holiday) (54%, 120 Votes)
Yes and it took me by surprise (33%, 73 Votes)
Yes but I knew it was coming (13%, 30 Votes)
Total Voters: 223