Resort fees aren’t going away, but Marriott is finally making them more transparent in bookings

Nov 22, 2021

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Things are about to get a little more transparent when booking and paying for hotel rooms — at least for folks booking with Marriott.

Marriott will now fully disclose resort and other fees in the upfront cost of hotel rooms in the U.S., according to USA Today. This means that people who book directly through Marriott will know exactly how much they’re paying for when searching for hotel rooms — and what exactly they’re paying for — earlier in the booking process.

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This change comes following a settlement with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, which was investigating Marriott for its use of “drip pricing.” According to a statement from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, drip pricing is where “fees are gradually disclosed to consumers as they go through the booking process,” and are considered a potentially “deceptive” practice and “a violation of Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law.”

“Hotels shouldn’t be able to slap hidden fees on top of your bill at the last minute, and thanks to this settlement we’re putting the hotel industry on notice to put an end to this deceptive practice,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in the statement.

Earlier this year, TPG reported that Marriott has earned millions of dollars in resort fees over the years, including $17 million in profit in 2019, according to an investigation by the District of Columbia Attorney General’s office.

Resort fees have always been a particular pain point for travelers, often tacking on as much as $45 per day to the cost of a hotel room. Most brands claim that these fees provide guests with useful amenities such as Wi-Fi, parking, pool and gym access and a number of other services that a guest might assume are already included in the price of their stay.

Oftentimes, travelers with elite status in certain hotel brands are exempt from some resort fees. With Hyatt, for example, members don’t pay resort fees on award stays while those with Hyatt Globalist status never have to pay a resort fee. Marriott Bonvoy, however, does not waive resort fees for any award stays.

Related: Here’s how to avoid paying resort fees

According to a statement from Marriott, the company will be working “over the next several months to update the room rate display” in accordance with the agreement made in Pennsylvania.

For what it’s worth, Marriott claims it has been transparent about its pricing structure and followed the law, per the company’s public statement:

“Marriott International has long been committed to making sure that any resort/destination fees charged by hotels in the U.S. are separately and clearly stated. For many years, consistent with guidance from the Federal Trade Commission, we have clearly disclosed such fees on our channels throughout the booking process, with disclosures on multiple pages before the customer elects to book a room. Further, we have controls in place to ensure that hotels in our system that include a resort/destination fee adhere to strict criteria, which includes a requirement to provide amenities that have a value exceeding the amount of the resort/destination fee.”

As of now, Marriott is the first major hotel chain to make changes to the way it displays resort and other fees.

“Marriott has stepped up to commit itself to fix this practice and we expect more hotel chains to follow suit,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro.

As One Mile at a Time suggested, this could cause an interesting dynamic between Marriott and third-party booking sites that, it seems, won’t be required to display resort fees in the upfront cost of a hotel room. This practice could lead travelers to book from a third-party agency — like Hotels.com, for example — that doesn’t include fees they’ll still be required to pay directly to the hotel.

We’ll keep you updated as Marriott implements its new efforts to make booking more transparent and to see if other hotel brands follow suit.

Featured image courtesy of Marriott.

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