Booking.com Makes a Big Move Against Resort Fees
Travelers have a range of tastes and opinions wider than the Grand Canyon, but there's one topic where they agree almost universally: resort fees stink.
In recent years, resort fees have only become worse. They have increased in amount, spread to properties that are decidedly not resorts, been renamed ("destination fees"), and are sometimes even charged per person instead of per room. Resort fees can cost more than the room rate itself, especially at some of the more budget hotels in Las Vegas. At some properties, they have already grown to more than $100 per night.
But there's a new glimmer of hope that perhaps resort fees won't continue on their one-way upward trajectory.
As reported by Vital Vegas and Skift, Booking.com is reportedly taking steps to collect commissions on resort fees. Currently, hotels generally don't pay a commission on the resort-fee portion of the rate when it is paid directly by the customer at the hotel.
A spokesperson for Booking.com confirmed this change to TPG:
As an extension of Booking.com's overarching aim to provide our customers with transparent information about the total price they will need to pay at a property when they make a booking and to create a level playing field for all of our accommodation partners, we are updating our process when it comes to charging commission on mandatory extra fees that customers are asked to pay at the property.
There are many reasons hotels charge resort fees, including appearing to have a cheaper nightly room rate at first glance. The fee portion of the rate often goes right into the hotel's pocket and isn't subject to losing a cut via the commission paid to third-party booking sites. If hotels begin paying a commission on that part of the rate, that's one fewer incentive to continue charging resort fees. A more consumer-friendly, all-in rate might (again) begin to make more sense.
However, it is unknown if Booking.com's take will spread to the other OTAs — Online Travel Agencies — such as Expedia. Currently, Booking.com bundles the resort fee in the amount you pay to make the reservation online (when you have to pay in advance), whereas Expedia does not charge that portion of the reservation up front, though it is displayed in both cases in the booking breakdown.
Booking.com payment screen with resort fee paid all-in:
Expedia booking screen with resort fee paid at hotel:
There's no guarantee that this will be a tipping point for the pesky fees, but there's a chance it could make a difference. It will be important to see if other OTAs follow Booking.com's lead. Yes, this is a self-serving move that puts more money in the OTAs' pockets, but if it simplifies the booking process for consumers, it might still be a win for us all.