Hidden fees and surcharges still a factor

I know, this comes as no surprise to you, but according to this article, hidden fees and surcharges are still de rigueur in the hospitality industry, despite the multi-million dollar settlement Wyndham reached with the state of Florida over a 2001 lawsuit. I guess what they rake in makes it worth the fines—according to the article:

    In recent years, hotels and resorts have taken a profitable lesson from the banking industry. According to PriceWaterHouseCooper’s Hospitality Division, surcharges and hidden fees have produced revenues of US$1.6 billion in 2006. This was a 7 percent increase over the previous year. Four years ago, the industry generated US$550 million in surcharges and fees. This means revenue have almost tripled since 2003. It has been estimated that a 7 percent increase for 2007 could bring in nearly US$2 billion in hidden fees and surcharges.

Why don't they just disclose these fees ahead of time, as the Wyndham judgment requires?

    In 2005, the company began listing total price at booking. Ultimately, however, InterContinental Hotels had to change its policy after it found that disclosing the total price resulted a high abandonment rate.

Meeting planners get even more outraged by all this than your average transient traveler, because they are the ones who have to deal with hundreds of attendees' disgruntlement. The only solution I see is to ask, and ask, and ask again, if there are any other fees or surcharges, and to get it in the contract that their organization and/or attendees do not have to pay any charge that's not specifically mentioned in the contract. Among the things to ask about, according to the article:

    Here are some of the surcharges and fees you may be faced with at check out time:

    early check in fee

    early check out fee

    shuttle service fee

    baggage-holding fee

    housekeeping fee

    mini bar deposit

    mini bar restocking fee

    ice and bottled water charges

    room service surcharge

    room service delivery fee

    bartender charge

    meet/eat fees

    room block fees

    cancellation fees

    guaranteed date fees (for groups)

    in-room safe surcharge

    room set/re-set charges

    internet service

    phone service

    fax service

    business center

    fitness room

    golf club transfer fee

    resort amenity fees

    pet fees

    tourism promotion fees

    energy surcharge

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