Update: Hyatt offers a strong denial that this idea is under consideration,
Hyatt is not considering implementing COVID-19 surcharges across its hotels, nor was it ever. To provide reassurance to our valued guests and members, this topic was initially raised not by Hyatt but by a member in a private forum that Hyatt uses to listen and gather guest and member feedback. While the third-party moderator then sought the perspective of the forum, it was not Hyatt’s intent or direction to survey this topic, nor does it need a forum to confirm that now is not the right time to institute new fees like this.
Hyatt suggests that the moderator of their online community wasn’t directed to survey the topic, and I take them at their word.
Yesterday I offered 5 reasons a hotel ‘coronavirus surcharge’ is a terrible idea. The hotel chain surveying some of its customers about this is Hyatt.
Hotel Surcharges Serve No Legitimate Purpose
When you book a hotel room, you expect to pay the room rate plus government-imposed taxes and fees. It isn’t just important to be able to see the expected total cost prior to purchase. The total needs to be shown up front, in the rate, so you can compare prices and make an informed decision.
Increasingly hotels add ‘surcharges’ on top of their prices. That makes the initial price you compare against other hotels. And once one does it, they all do it, because no one wants to look artificially more expensive than competitors. Marriott even imposes these surcharges on award stays.
There are two possibilities: either customers factor these surcharges into the total price when making a decision (though most people are bad at math), or the charges are deceptive. In the former case they don’t matter much, so there’s no reason to use them. In the latter case they’re tantamount to fraud. Either way they serve no legitimate purpose.
Nonetheless surcharges spread beyond just ‘resort fees’ at a limited number of hotels. Big city properties now add ‘destination fees’ in big cities like New York or Chicago. And in Las Vegas individual restaurants and bars may charge venue fees, in addition to the resort fees you pay for your room.
Hyatt Is Talking About A COVID-19 Surcharge
Now Hyatt is talking about imposing a fourth type: a COVID-19 surcharge. The chain surveyed members of its internal ‘influencers’ community for feedback to help them consider the idea.
With the impacts of COVID-19 affecting businesses globally, hotels and restaurants may institute a new “COVID-19 surcharge” as they reopen. (The surcharge is usually added as a percentage to any bill/order.)
Though Hyatt teams have not discussed any plans to move forward with this yet, they’d like to know your opinions on the COVID-19 surcharge. (Are you in favor/disagreement? Any pros/cons? Any recommendations? Any concerns?)
A Hyatt COVID-19 Surcharge Undermines The Trust That’s More Important Than Ever
I’d like to offer Hyatt feedback, and I’d like all of us to do so. This is a horrible idea, that undermines trust in the brand completely. It’s trust in the brand that drives value for Hyatt Hotels Corporation. They really risk undermining their business.
If a surcharge is needed to cover the cost of making a hotel safe from SARS-CoV-2, then it’s not part of a hotel’s basic practices. the room rate doesn’t buy a safe stay. That communication is downright scary. And hiding the ball on price is untrustworthy and what’s needed to bring travelers back more than ever is trust.
We cannot trust any hotel chain that tries this, and it’s so contrary to the brand purpose Hyatt has invested in that it uniquely undermines their relationship with customers. Dear Hyatt, please do not move forward with this idea. Am I off base here?