Dear Roxy is Sharing Travel Experience’s regular columnist answering your questions about getting the best value and best experiences during your next hotel stay.
Today, Roxy is answering a question about hidden fees. Got a hotel question? Just ask Roxy.
Why is it so hard to figure out what fees a hotel will charge you, and why is it that “nicer” the property, the more fees they charge – e.g. WiFi, breakfast, parking, etc. How am I supposed to budget my trip when I can’t find the information (i.e booking through 3rd party website)?
I recently had a trip where I had to split my stay over two hotels near an airport. The 2.5 star hotel had free Wifi, free parking, whereas the 3 star hotel didn’t have free anything; the parking ended up costing 50% of what I paid for the room since I got a deal!”
Nick C from Oregon
Well, Nick, this is a good question…in fact, this is the hardest question Dear Roxy has had to answer! My first instinct as to why some hotels charge for services and amenities was to say, “Because they can! It’s economics…supply and demand…elasticity of demand…” etc. But I will try to give you an answer as best as I can, with minimal snark. After all, this is the kind of stuff I spend months (if not years) teaching hoteliers.
When a hotel offers a rate on a third-party site that seems too good to be true, it probably is. These third party sites that hide details (called opaque sites) use that rate like bait
to suck you in, I mean, draw you in. Once you’re hooked, they nickel and dime you for the amenities. Their rate may be competitive with the rates of other hotels in the area, but if it is on a more expensive piece of property, has more amenities to offer, or even just a substantially larger staff, they have to make up that money somewhere. The result is few (or no) free amenities.
How can you avoid this? By doing some research on the front end and skipping the sites that keep secrets until you’ve booked the reservation. Stick to clear booking sites where you can find answers to your amenity questions. (And remember, some fees – like taxes – are unavoidable.)
And what to do if you still feel like you need more help in making your travel budget? Well, like I tell my teenagers, you probably have a thing in your pocket called a phone; last time I checked they still made calls. Good luck!
Got a hotel question? Just ask Roxy.