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Friday, October 14, 2011

Answering, "What is all the fuss"


Well, here is some of where my fuss comes from:

One of the annoying bits that comes with the resort fees is that they destroy two good booking tools.  First, there is that booking tool that allows you to set a price at a discounter and then get offered a deal based on what you say you would like to pay.  Their search for the deal does not include resort fees.  So it is now a useless tool.
Second, if you search any discounter for a low to high price ranking of offers, resort fees is not figured into the software, so the entire value of such a ranking is useless.

It is even worse when media reports and ranks hotel charges or trends in some article that  ignores resort fees so that the entire article is bogus.  This happened for quite a while in LVA newsletters, even though they are supposed to be a great resource for the gambler.  How would the average reader know?

Finally, it is fine to say, "Oh, look, you just have to be as smart and savy as I am, and you won't be tricked by the fine print."  But why should we applaud the tricksters just because we are smart enough not to get duped, when our inexperienced and unsavy fellow travelers get tricked.   
That is the purpose of these fees, to sort us out and trick some of us who are vulnerable. 
Should we not worry about our sidewalks if they are filled with holes and uneven pavement because we know to walk around the difficulties so we don't trip?
 
If that is our attitude, why have a board like this at all?   Why not just let everyone find out everything for themselves, the tricks and the strategies and everything.  Shouldn't we expect everyone to just know what we know?

I'm not a purist.  I pay resort fees and figure them in my final totals just as you do. I like them better when they are right in the booking (like the Gold Spike) and not hidden in the fine print and added on as I check out.  But I know there are newbies who don't have a clue and that this whole system is set up to trick them. 
And I'm annoyed that there has to be a list on this board and we all have to check it everytime we plan out trips to see just where the resort fee happens to have risen to today.
Just this week  on Facebook I went into a Riviera conversation where they were advertising $23 a night and a woman was confused just because the tax made her quoted price higher than that $23.  

I asked about the resort fee because it was not being discussed at all.  
Of course it was not included in the $23 price that was being celebrated on the bogus informative Facebook page.  
"So, "I said," $30 is the new $23" 
And then they came out with the full amount of the rooms on sale.
They were baiting with the $23.
They would have preferred to switch the offer at checkout.
I made them switch before booking.

And when I taught propaganda techniques, half truth was one of them, and not considered a thing to celebrate.


Finally, take a look at the ridiculous way hotels.com and expedia handle Gold Spike bookings.  They take the resort fee upfront, refuse to admit it, call it a service charge, state in the fine print that the Gold Spike will take it on check out, ignore that the Gold Spike won't take it, and even a half dozen emails and a few phone calls can't get them to make that clear to me or anyone.
  
And I know a very savy board posting traveler who has offered tons of inside information about Vegas, but  who got confused by not getting charged at check out and thought he had beat the resort fee because he had not payed attention to paying it when he first booked.

Whether it is the casinos selling rooms or the banks selling mortgages, transparency in the marketplace is honest, fair, consumer friendly and saves a lot of hassle.
This list is just a fix of a diseased marketing system, like chemo for cancer. 


COMPARISON WITH AIRLINE FEES

Let me just comment on the analogy to baggage fees on airlines that is often made when resort fees are discussed because both have the same annoyance factor.

They are not the same.
There may be some similarity in the desire to make cost comparison a mathematical puzzle and a challenge to some travelers.
But there are huge differences.
First, the traveler can choose to pay the baggage fee or not.  So those travelers who get the service of transporting lots of weight, pay for that added expense of transporting that weight.

Second, the resort fee offers for the most part useless amenities that are just there so they can't be sued for misquoting rates, or there again to trick the newbies who may not know that the pool and parking are normal free amenities everywhere.  In a few cases wifi, fitness rooms, or free water has some value, but use of the pool and free parking is just a sham.
Were the fees like those of the airline, those folks who did not use the amenities, would not pay the fees.  
Folks who check no bags, pay no fees; folks who don't use wifi, fitness, etc. still have to pay.

Imagine getting to your destination and the airline stops you and says,
"We are adding a baggage fee to your flight, sir, to better serve you."
"Well, I did not check any bags," you answer.
"Just the same, sir, if you check the fine print on your boarding pass, you will see that at the end of your flight, we add on a baggage fee.  The service was offered and whether you used it or not, the fee is required."

That would be more like a resort fee.

Also the airline charges the fee to encourage people to pack less because less weight saves money in fuel cost. A baggage fee is a real fee for a real service and an attempt to charge folks just for what they use. A resort fee is at best a way to make some customers pay for services only a few will use or perhaps a way to get the low bankrolled to pay for the amenities of the high rollers as the fees are often waived on comped rooms.

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