Expedia drops hotels in search results that charge resort fees
The hotel resort fee battle continues to heat up. This week, Expedia Group announced the site will push hotels that charge resort fees lower in the search results on Expedia.com.
As View From the Wing's Gary Leff pointed out on Friday morning, Cyril Ranque — Expedia's president of the Travel Partners Group — told attendees at the Expedia Explore 2019 conference in Las Vegas Expedia "wanted to take action on resort fees for transparency's sake while also showing respect for hotel partners."
Skift reported resort fees are just one factor Expedia's algorithm considers when displaying the sort order of hotel search results. That means having a resort fee alone may not necessarily drop a hotel in the listing as room rate, quality of the hotel and its popularity are also considered.
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Resort fees exist to drive revenue for hotels and, in my experience, do not add any value to your hotel stay. They are in essence a second room rate and are taxed identically to the published room rate. Because Expedia does not earn commissions on the resort fee portion of a room rate, hotels save money, but that means the online travel agency has an incentive to push properties that charge resort fees lower in the sort order. Meantime, resort fees are often hidden from travelers, and some consumers are demanding more transparency. They want to see the entire cost of a hotel stay in search results, which even a few Congress members agree on. In fact, there's a growing movement to try and make resort fees illegal.
Expedia is now the second online travel agency this year to take action against hotels that charge resort fees. In May, Booking.com notified hotels that it will begin collecting commissions on the resort fee portion of hotel rates. The attorneys general of both Washington, D.C. and Nebraska have sued Marriott and Hilton respectively over the practice, equating it to a deceptive and misleading custom.
I completed a couple searches on Expedia.com in destinations known for resort fees to see if the top results did not include resort fees. For Orlando, the top two spots were held by properties that paid to be at the top. The next eight properties, which comprised the top 10 results, all charge resort fees except one: Universal's Endless Summer Resort - Surfside Inn and Suites.
For New York City, eight of the top 10 properties displayed charged a resort fee for the date I searched — really a depressing fact on its own. Only The Watson and The Courtyard by Marriott New York City Manhattan Midtown East do not charge resort fees.
Expedia does charge hotels more money to be placed higher in the search results, so we don't know how a property or chain that pays Expedia a large sum of money to be placed higher but also charges resort fees will be treated under the new algorithm change. Based off my searches, the top spots are still dominated by resort fee-charging hotels.
But the combination of lawsuits, legislative action and online travel agency algorithm changes has made 2019 the most promising year to date for action to get rid of resort fees. Perhaps, in 2020, the momentum will continue. In the meantime, brush up on our tips and tricks for avoiding those pesky resort fees altogether.