DUMB: Las Vegas Travel Is Down So Caesars Is Raising Resort Fees

In August the CEO of Caesars declared that resort fees could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Las Vegas lodging. Yet just two months later Caesars raised resort fees at Caesar’s Palace, Nobu and Rio.

Now with visitor arrivals to the U.S. under pressure from coronavirus – and the entire Chinese market large cut off from travel to Las Vegas – you’d expect prices to be reduced, not raised. Yet effective March 3 Caesars is raising resort fees at Harrah’s, Flamingo, Linq and Bally’s to $41.95 per night.

Credit: Harrah’s

Bear in mind that if you match your hotel status to Wyndham and from there to Caesars, that Caesars Total Rewards Diamond members are exempt from paying these fees. For most people though? Resort fees have been shown to drive people away from Las Vegas, especially travelers from nearby Southern California who take on increased importance without visitors from China.

With 12,000 rooms coming online in Las Vegas over the next 5 years the hotel industry there faces a dilemma. Higher prices drive people away and make it harder to fill rooms especially at non-peak times. Resort fees serve as a price floor, preventing hotels from discounting enough to keep rooms full. Las Vegas is a city where ancillary revenue usually exceeds room rates, so keeping rooms full is crucial at almost any price.

Raising resort fees in Vegas at this time seems even worse than telling children their parents are getting divorced as a service included in the resort fee.

Marriott is currently being sued by DC over its resort fee practices. Hilton is being sued by Nebraska. And there’s a new Marriott class action lawsuit over resort fees. Yet in Las Vegas they’re even now stacking venue fees on top of resort fees.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Careful with the Caesar’s Diamond, in 2019, had them argue that the resort fee waiver available on 2nd stay. With a little push back, the resort fee was waived.

  2. Did three Caesar property trips in 2019 (1X LV and 2X AC). Never had a problem with waived resort fees or free parking, and resort fee always showed as complementary when booking on their web site.

    Used celebration at BLT while staying at Ballys. They stacked 20% coupon for guests on top of $100 Celebration dinner. Just did one free show.

    Matched to Caesars Diamond from Wyndham again in February 2020 (after matching Wyndham Diamond from Caesars in January).

  3. I get comped rooms (or very low rates, $15/night) at most casinos in Vegas. The casino makes the resort fee into the room rate. This is the whole rationale behind resort fees. This fee guarantees that the hotel makes a profit/covers cost on the room. The advertising of free rooms is false advertising. There should be a lawsuit in Vegas against this, as it is obvious false advertising.

  4. It’s what the resort fees do and don’t include that chaps my hide.. At Bally’s in January the resort fee got you into the gym and free wifi — for *TWO* devices per room. As I recall $15/day for each additional. That’s not a rip-off it’s just a shake down.
    Oh… you’ll be paying to park too 🙁

  5. I know you think this is dumb, but the fact that Caesars’ keeps increasing the fees tells me this business model is working for them. I could see how a resort fee strategy could be particularly effective in Vegas. You can advertise some crazy low room rates that will get the attention of Vegas travellers, and then still get some plausible revenue from the rooms.
    Personally, I love the fact that they’re “all in” on this strategy. As a completely free Caesar’s Diamond member — status that I assume you’ve gamed as well — the resort fees are waived (as are the overpriced parking charges) and I can often stay on the Strip for 25 bucks or so because they’ve been lowering the base room rates. The Diamond status also gets me free show tickets, room upgrades, the ability to bypass lines and $100 annual dining credit. This is the probably the best travel deal in America. We could use more “dumbness” from other travel sellers!

  6. Gary,

    You can say it is dumb but as long as the market supports it (and clearly it does for both Caesars and MGM/Mirage) the resort fees won’t go down. It is like people complaining about ticket cost at Disney World – as long as supply and demand hold the only reason to lower costs (or provide other discounts) if if volume warrants and CLEARLY that isn’t the case.

    This is one reason I work hard to maintain my Diamond Plus level (25,000 earned Tier Credits) and do it the old fashioned way (gambling and casino spend) as opposed to matching (which I wish Caesars would drop since it cheapens the award for those of us that actually earn it. At least with the Wyndham match you only get Diamond which doesn’t provide access to the lounges or the great room/event offers I get (they are based on amount of play).

    I’ve already hit Diamond Plus for 2021 with 25,000 points earned in the first 2 months of the year. Not worth it to push for Diamond Elite (75,000 points) and won’t hit Seven Stars (150,000). My goal now is to qualify as elite at 2 other programs (MGM’s MLife is one) so I get EVEN MORE offers.

    As for the person saying he had to argue about waiving resort fees with Diamond – I guess you didn’t book it through Caesar’s website since those are automatically waived (I have 12-15 stays a year around the country at their casinos for 50-75 nights). If you used Booking.com, Hotels.com, etc I can see the resort fee being added this they only agree to waive it if booked through their website. Of course a host can take it off but usually (like with all levels at MGM/Mirage) they want to see your level of play to justify it. If you have Diamond through whatever method ALWAYS book on Caesars site. Also, if you are Diamond and log in you will get the lowest rate (usually totally comped for me including at events like the Super Bowl, NFL Draft, etc.)

  7. @chopsticks you’ve defended everything doug parker’s done in the comments of my blog as their share price plummeted, is there anything a travel company could do that you WOULDN’T think was wise simply because they were doing it and they must know? Plenty of travel providers have gone under of course. Heck Caesars has had to reorganize…

  8. Apparently they just have too much business, an enviable situation, to be sure. For myself, my trips to Las Vegas have gone from annually to once every few years, mostly due to the destruction of value. Higher taxes for the new football stadium, ever-worsening traffic, continually increasing resort fees, tougher criteria for comps, and it’s even getting tough to get free drinks unless you’re playing $25 a hand blackjack. Put these together and it makes for a much less welcoming destination.

  9. Will be happy if I never have to go to Vegas again… Every single thing about that town from taxi “long hauling” to resort fees to changing the long standing rules of games like blackjack to create an even larger house edge leaves a sour taste in your mouth. As gaming and sports gambling is legalized more places, the Vegas house of cards is going to come crashing down — ironic.

  10. My biggest gripe with resort fees is that they make it ten times harder to compare actual cost when shopping for a hotel room. You have to click through a couple times on each option to see its total cost, then you have to remember those numbers as you test the other options.

    Since the entire industry wants to make its prices opaque, you might as well just drop a bid on Priceline or book an unknown hotel on Hotwire.

  11. Agree; it’s a stupid action by Caesars. Resort fees are a fraud and an outrage. I will not stay at any hotel with a resort fee. Most transparent way is to list the room rate and eliminate the resort fee; similar to airline fares! Hopefully, two current legal actions against Marriott and Hilton will result in resort fees being abolished!

  12. @hghglobal, Exactly! If they lie about their prices, they’ll lie about anything. The only time I booked a hotel with a resort fee was in the Comoro Islands, where a resort fee was listed as 0.01 euros. I actually wanted to get a picture of myself handing over one cent to pay the fee, but then they waived it.

  13. The Soviet Union is no more but its spirit lives on. The long shuffling queues of US immigration are identical to the Soviet ones of course and unavoidable, but in some places people are volunteering and paying for the same experience. At Disneyland for example, and – of all places – Las Vegas when you are trying to check in to a hotel. Heaven knows it would be good if the resort fee would cover sufficient desk staff to avoid a crazy 45-minute wait to check in.

  14. Who knows if “the market supports it”? Does anyone know, believe, have proof that any major corporate business model WORKS on a rational basis any longer? Or that it is what it says it is? When airlines survive/thrive on selling frequent flyer miles, banks pay no interest, but passengers must pay to speak with a human being, and there are accepted charges on the bill for words (services?) as a well-educated person, I still do not comprehend, there really is no connection with reality.
    And finally, as much as I loathe Disneywhatever, they at least sell something, a pretty well constructed experience where children have been hyped into a frenzy of desperate, insistent need. Las Vegas sells you the right to take your money. Talk about the “old Razzle Dazzle.”
    And the rational argument that “they wouldn’t keep doing it if it lost money?” Oh yes they would if it covered their sins elsewhere and deflected, deceived, covered, and lined top executives golden parachutes.

  15. I have a reservation at the Harrah’s in July… If the pool, and fitness center isn’t available to use, because I’d social distancing…why must I pay for resort fees? I called and they said it’s for cleaning the rooms also… So we have to pay them to clean the rooms now… This is pretty low down and sad.. They’re basically just taking our $$$…

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