Hotels to collect $2.1 billion in fees in 2013

5:03 AM, Aug 14, 2013   |    comments
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U.S. hotels are on track to collect a record $2.1 billion in total fees and surcharges this year, a new study out of New York University says.

That tops last year's record of $2 billion collected by hotels, the study released Tuesday says.

Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management, attributes the nearly 6% increase to a combination of hotels adding more fees and surcharges and increasing existing ones while also filling about 2.25% more rooms this year.

"There are more guests staying at hotels. It's more hotels charging more fees and at higher amounts," Hanson says.

Hotels introduced resort fees in 1997. Since then, they've come up with new fees such as energy surcharges, which became commonplace in 2000.

Other fees they've created include early departure fees, early reservation cancellation fees, internet fees, business center fees, room service delivery surcharges, mini-bar restocking fees and charges for in-room safes. Some hotels also have automatic gratuities.

Hotels have also added more fees to hold meetings in their ballrooms and conference rooms. Among them: charges for the set-up and breakdown of meeting rooms, bartender fees, and fees for the bell staff to hold luggage after guests have checked out.

The result has been an increase in the amount of fees and surcharges collected almost every year since 2000. The amount collected dipped in 2008 because Americans weren't traveling as much during the recession. It also dropped in 2001 and 2002 because competition among hotels was so intense that hoteliers didn't want to drive people away with fees, Hanson says.

Still, the report points out that the hotel industry is nowhere near as prolific as the airline industry in collecting fees. Airlines collect about 10 times more in fees than hotels do, the report found.

Hotels have not stopped coming up with ideas for new fees. Hanson said one new emerging fee is for suburban and airport hotels and resorts to charge for "open, unattended parking." While some hotels have added one or more electronic key card gates for entry and exit, others have made no operational changes that would cost them extra money.

Hanson points out that the industry can't really charge for much more.

"The industry is really running out of new fees and surcharges to introduce," he says.

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Here are the estimated amounts of fees and surcharges collected over the years:

Year: Amount (in billions)

2013: $2.1 (forecast)

2012: $2.0

2011: $1.85

2010: $1.7

2009: $1.55

2008: $1.75

2007: $1.75

2006: $1.6

2005: $1.4

2004: $1.2

2003: $1.0

2002: $0.55

2001: $1.0

2000: $1.2

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By Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY

Gannett / USA Today

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