One of the biggest new trends for hotels to fatten their bottom line is to add on additional “convenience fees” that they call Resort Fees or Destination Fees. These fees can be relatively small to quite egregiously large. Bottom line – they piss me off because they are a blatant violation of consumer trust. Hotels are hoping that you just pay the fee and forget about how much you are being ripped off.
As a Marriott Platinum Elite member, I’ve earned all the benefits that I actually need. The Resort/Destination fees often include things like free wifi, bottles of water and access to the fitness facility (really?). They also add in things like “free mini golf”, “free bike rental”, “free life as a housekeeper tour”, or something else that is virtually useless.
How To Avoid Fees
I’ve been batting 100% in getting my resort and destination fees waived and the way I have done it has been pretty simple. I will admit that having status certainly helps but generally the way to get out of the fees is to simply ask.
You need to be firm yet polite and give them the reasons as to why you feel the fees to be unfair. My normal go-to is to say that the only useable features in the fees that they charge are for benefits I have already earned with my loyalty. The additional “benefits” that were offered were things that I did not take advantage of during my stay, and thus the fees are not something that I am willing to pay for.
The agent may offer to reduce your fees but I have always said something to the effect of “thank you but I’m not asking to reduce the resort fee, I am asking to have them waived”.
Typically, they will speak to a manager who may come over to ask you how they can help. I reiterate my position and they have always relented. They may say that this is a “one-time gesture”, to which I thank them and move on.
Be Confident and Firm
Ultimately, this is a social engineering task to convince someone of your position so you need to be confident but don’t be a jerk – that will never get you anywhere. I have been in sales for many years and one of the first things that I started doing early on in my career was to figure out how I would respond to “no” so that I could steer the conversation. When I first started asking for fees to be waived, I would employ the same practice.
Manager: the fee is to cover off the cost of providing the services that our guests love
Me: I understand that but as a Platinum member, I have stayed in Marriott branded hotels for over 400 nights in the past 2 years so I practically live out of hotels. When you offer someone like me things like “free high-speed wifi” or “free bottles of water” as part of the fee, it’s insulting because I earned those benefits.
Manager: the fees also cover you for free mini-golf and free bike rentals
Me: I’m here to take my kid to his baseball clinic – we aren’t here to play mini-golf or ride bikes. These are benefits that have no bearing to my stay so I again ask that you kindly remove the fee.
Manager: we can reduce the fee to 50% of the charge for you
Me: I appreciate the gesture but I must insist on having the fees removed completely. Please see this from my perspective. I’m a loyal customer that spends well over $25,000 a year at Marriott – if you were in my position, would it make you happy to have to pay additional fees, especially considering they have no relevance to you?
Manager: we very much appreciate your business so as a one-time gesture, I’m willing to waive the fees for you.
Me: thank you very much
When to Request the Waiver
You really can make the request at any time but I typically do so just prior to checking out. I also like to pick a time where the front desk isn’t too busy. The reason for this is that I presume the manager of the hotel would rather not have other guests that are checking in/out hear the conversation and request the same thing.
I fully understand that hotels are in the business of making money so while I hate these fees, if I owned a hotel and could get away with it, I would likely charge the fee as well, especially if all my competitors were doing so. Understanding how a manager’s mind works certainly can come in handy in this situation.
What If I Don’t Have Status
Admittedly, this is going to be a tougher discussion for you but I would stay with the same argument except I would say something to the effect of “I’ve paid over $400 a night and the hotel charges an incredibly high fee for parking. Adding this resort fee on makes me incredibly unhappy and an otherwise pleasant stay has been completely marred by these fees”. Hotels earn business through reviews on things like TripAdvisor so they know an unhappy customer can cost them much more than the resort fee they are trying to collect so be sure they know that you would normally be leaving a great review but that would turn into a poor review because of the fees.
Alternatively, you could always ask for compensation in the form of points in return for the fees. While not ideal, at least you can get something out of it.
Manager: I’m sorry, we simply can’t waive these fees for you.
You: well, that makes me incredibly unhappy because I feel that I’m not getting anything for those fees. I have a suggestion. Rather than sit here and argue about the merits of the fees, perhaps you could provide a goodwill gesture of 30,000 points (or pick a number) to help me feel much better about paying the fee.
Manager: I think we could arrange that.
Resort/Destination fees are the same garbage fees that organizations like TicketMaster charge for giving you the privilege of purchasing a ticket and printing it at home with your own paper and ink, or a Aeroplan charging you a fee for making a telephone booking that would be impossible to book online.
It’s all horrible.
With a bit of an understanding of how to approach the situation, you too can get out of your fees. Hopefully, some politician can introduce a bill that outlaws the collection of these extortion-like fees but until that happens, make sure you fight each time someone tries to put a BS fee on your hotel bill.