Times Are Tough For Hotels: They’re Now Charging Extra For Your Room’s Electricity

When leisure travel was down, Caesars resorted to an underhanded tactic in Las Vegas: they raised resort fees, presumably hoping they could take more money from consumers than they realized they’d be spending.

Now that leisure travel in resort destinations is coming back in a big way, hotels are raising prices too by raising fees. Whether demand is low or demand is high, hotels have only Maslow’s metaphorical hammer: raise mandatory fees.

A year ago there was the Coronavirus fee. That built on top of venue fees and resort fees. Now how about energy fees?

All of them share these harms to consumers in common:

  • They are disingenuous because they are not optional, since it’s a cost that you must pay if you stay in the room that is part of the rate
  • Their only purpose is to mislead consumers, at least some hotels are honest and say they realize it’s deceptive but are forced to do it because competitors do and don’t want their rooms to look more expensive by comparison.
  • They’re drip pricing, because the room costs more than what you’re originally quoted
  • And they make comparison shopping difficult – sure, fees may get disclosed prior to confirming the booking, but the prices that are published by each hotel that you compare when you search are not the actual prices and aren’t even comparable since resort and other mandatory add-on fees vary by hotel

At some point we have to ask, what does the room rate even cover if it doesn’t come with electricity?

At least with resort fees hotels argue they’re giving you amenities that would cost more than the fee if purchased separately. But electricity? Odds on there’s no relationship between the power surcharge and the cost of power incurred by the room, in which case this one is ripe for a lawsuit like the class action settlement with British Airways, because fuel surcharges weren’t related to the cost of fuel.

Several state attorneys general were investigating hotel resort fees as a deceptive practice. That process has gone nowhere. Two years ago Washington, D.C. broke ranks and sued Marriott while several months later Nebraska sued Hilton. For those who thought they should hold back and wait on states to move forward together, since those suits were filed nothing happened with the consortium of states.

Hotel chains advertise prices that don’t include mandatory fees. The headline rate is what consumers compare when they’re searching. It’s only when they go to book that they see the price is higher than what was presented to them. That makes comparing prices difficult. And it puts hotels that are transparent, advertising the full cost of a stay, at a disadvantage.

Resort fees are unquestionably disingenuous, a mandatory fee to stay at a hotel is also called ‘the price’ and there’s no valid reason for separating it out. The same holds for any new mandatory fees hotels may come up with.

(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

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. Sadly Hotels in LAS have been doing that for years. If you join their “club” alot of time you can wave some, if not all the fees.

    For Hilton, etc if your part of the club free wifi, free breakfast and such. Sadly, I expect more fees, just like airlines do..

  2. Credit where credit is due, for all their many faults, at least Marriott and IHG give potential guests the option to search with all fees included. That makes comparison shopping much easier, at least between those two giants. Would be great if Hyatt joined the bandwagon. If the OTA’s did the same, it would likely be a game changer.

  3. @Gene – to each their own. I like many different places but LOVE Las Vegas. Been going 3-5 times a year for over 30 years. First of all I like to gamble (mainly poker) and there is no where better. Even if you don’t gamble the restaurants, shows, sports, golf, shopping and just people watching are amazing. Then you add all the natural attractions nearby (Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, Lake Mead) not to mention the relatively nearby Grand Canyon and it has something for everyone.

    Open your mind and you may enjoy it.

  4. Since they’re charging a flat fee for electricity, maybe you could book a room for a month and mine crypto (since it’s so energy intensive)? Get a couple computers going?

  5. Vegas is just awful anymore. They used to offer cheap rooms, cheap food, free drinks, and affordable gaming. The fun part was seeing how much they could entice you to lose in the casino over a weekend – and usually they came out well ahead financially, and you came home feeling like it was still a great weekend even though you lost at the tables. Now, everything is overpriced – room, food, drinks, gambling – all of it. It’s not fun anymore, and it’s certainly not affordable. Maybe younger folks who don’t remember the way Vegas used to be can enjoy it, but for those of us who remember how it was, it’s just disappointing.

  6. Is this any different from the Energy Surcharge that hotels used to add on in the 2001’ish timeframe?

    Or is it any different than a fuel surcharge on an airline. I mean if I pay for a plane ticket, I would think it would include the fuel LOL

  7. Two comments:

    1). Resort fees are also a tax scam. Many hotels do not pay the local lodging tax on resort fees, which may only be levied on the room fee. This has been the case in NYC.

    2). I go to Vegas for the world class mountain biking (especially if I’m already going there for business). I put it just behind Moab, UT (the undisputed center of the universe for mountain biking). On single-track trails west of LV, in the Mohave desert, you’ll have a good chance of seeing wild horses and burros. Many bike shops are available for renting full suspension bikes and the folks in those shops can usually give useful advice on current conditions. In case this comment convinces any newbies to give this sport a try, you MUST have a helmet, gloves, a water backpack (e.g. Camelback) and sunscreen (I bring all of those with me). Install an app like “AllTrails” before you head out and download the map for the trail you’ve selected so even without cell service you won’t get lost. And tell the staff at the bike shop where you’re going so that if you don’t show up to return the bike, they will send out a search party… And for the record, this is about the most fun you can have with your clothes on!

  8. A website that included a search feature for LV hotels including all the fees up front would be very popular I would think.

  9. I expect the hotel industry toilet paper surcharge will begin on June 1, 2021.

  10. Hotels can add as many fees as they want, but they should be required to be part of the advertised room rate.

  11. State Attorneys General and Fair Trade commissions and agencies have clout, but are not using it apparently. Another group with influence are convention planners; they don’t do their clients and constituents any favor when they book their conventions in hotels and cities that allow this fraudulent practice.

  12. @Liz I was hit with this $5.00 per day “Energy Surcharge” in Southern Calf back in early 2000s and told them. NOPE was not part of my rate that I signed up for when I booked the room. The front desk said it was new because of all of the energy problems there at the time. I told her, that it was not a problem for me since I booked a room for a set price not a room with a variable price . She removed the surcharge.

  13. Next fee ? Toilet paper fee ? Pillow / bed sheet fee ? Keycard fee ? I’m sure they’ll come up with more.

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