Making hotel add-on fees palatable?

Is it really possible to continue adding on more hotel fees without ticking off guests? When they already stand at $1.55 billion, I'd tend to doubt it, but according to this article, it is -- if it's done the right way.

Basically it says if the fee is for "a clearly delineated auxiliary service" that the guest has no ability to decline, the hotel "can effectively keep the fee revenue stream open without running the risk of alienating their customers." The example cited? Housekeeper "gratuities." Ah hem, isn't a gratuity by definition not compulsory? Sorry, but I am one customer who will pitch a fit if I am charged a fee for housekeeping gratuities on general principles, and specifically because it will have the secondary dastardly effect of taking the tip out of the housekeeper's pocket and putting it into the hotel's (if a hotel could have pockets -- you know what I mean). I'm not sure what else would fall under this category, since the author puts things like energy surcharges and in-room safe fees (fees "derived from something that used to be included in the room rate as a matter of course") in a less favorable category. Maybe a plumbing surcharge? An icemaking fee?

The other type of fee that we're supposed to be happy to roll over for is related to "various services that a guest may or may not engage in," including local phone calls, minibar raids, and Internet connectivity. OK, I'll buy that, so to speak, since it's actually up to you whether or not you use the service or product. But if anyone understands the first, please let me know.

A couple of other things in the article made my blood pressure rise a bit. Like this: "Some of these fees are imposed to make up for systemic revenue shortfalls; whereas once phone service was a significant revenue generator for hotels, the proliferation of mobile phones strangled this stream, so some hotels have taken to imposing a telephone fee, unlinked to use." Really? A fee just to have a phone in the room? Oh, maybe that's an example of the first kind of fee we're supposed to be OK with? Not hardly.

And while I agree that all fees should be disclosed up front to avoid the after-the-fact sticker shock at checkout when you're running out the door to catch a plane and don't have time to argue about it, I'm not sure I entirely agree with this statement: "Of the two evils - being nickel and dimed and being outright snookered - the former is always preferable." Do we really need to choose between the two? I want our hotel partners to have healthy bottom lines, but there has to be another way that steers clear of nickel-and-diming and snookering.

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