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Marriott Just Agreed To Disclose Resort Fees In Hotel Room Rates

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The most loathed of all hidden hotel fees is going away at thousands of hotels in the United States. Marriott International, the world’s largest hospitality company, has agreed to include mandatory resort fees in room rates following an investigation led by the Pennsylvania Attorney General into whether the company was in violation of consumer-protection laws.

Last week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that his office had reached a settlement with Marriott, in which the hospitality behemoth will have nine months to implement the changes nationwide.

“Over the years, travelers have been reportedly misled by the published rates offered by hotels for a night’s stay only later to be hit with ‘resort fees’ through the hotel industry’s practice of ‘drip pricing,’ where the rate advertised does not include additional mandatory fees,” said Shapiro in a statement.

With this settlement, Marriott is agreeing to be “upfront and transparent in the disclosure of mandatory fees, including resort fees, as part of the total price of a hotel stay–allowing consumers to be able to compare total price costs for hotels and find the one that is the best fit for them,” said Shapiro.

Resort fees are universally hated but mandatory fees that hotels categorize separately from the room rate, thus distorting the final price. In major markets, they can climb as high as $50 per night, ostensibly to cover services such as Wi-Fi, parking or access to the pool or fitness room. In general, consumers are obligated to pay these fees whether they use the services or not.

Shapiro focused his investigation on the widespread practice of “drip pricing,” where resort fees are disclosed gradually as consumers go through the process of booking a hotel. Typically, the consumer is at the very end of the process before the total price of the room is revealed and, in some cases, the price is not disclosed until check-in.

Through his investigation, Shapiro argued that drip pricing is deceptive and a violation of his state’s Consumer Protection Law. “Hotels shouldn’t be able to slap hidden fees on top of your bill at the last minute,” said Shapiro. “With costs going up and more seniors and families traveling for the holidays, consumers should beware of these surprise fees when booking. Marriott has stepped up to commit itself to fix this practice and we expect more hotel chains to follow suit.”

Under the settlement, Marriott must come up with a transparent system for disclosing mandatory fees, including resort fees, so that consumers can easily make apples-to-apple comparisons across different hotels. 

In addition, Marriott must prominently disclose the total price of a hotel stay, including the room rate and all fees, on the first page of the booking process.

As part of the settlement, Marriott has not admitted to any violations of law.

Shapiro said that upfront disclosure of resort fees as part of the initial advertised price should be considered the industry standard going forward.

The agreement quickly drew praise from Travelers United, a consumer-advocacy group in the travel arena that is suing MGM Resorts International for similar practices. “American consumers will finally see a change in the way hotel prices are displayed after the Pennsylvania attorney general took a stand on behalf of American consumers,” Travelers United counsel Lauren Wolfe said in a statement. “Advertised room rates now require all mandatory fees are included in the advertised price of the room.”

Pennsylvania was not the first state to take on resort fees on behalf of consumers. In 2019, the Nebraska Attorney General filed a similar lawsuit against Hilton and the District of Columbia Attorney General filed one against Marriott