Meeting planners are being asked to pay for things that they never would have dreamed of being asked to pay for in the past—like these hidden fees that didn’t exist 5 years ago.
In this unprecedented era of disruption, hotel rates—and hidden fees—are like a double-edged sword.
Rates were up more than 18 percent in 2022 and are predicted to increase another 8 percent in 2023, according to the 2023 Global Business Travel Forecast by CWT and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). Leisure travelers are taking up group rates in many cities, like Miami, where the hotels are getting rack rates.
“In your top-tier destinations, the pricing is so high for your basic hotels, not even luxury hotels, and they are charging $500/night. That’s insane,” says Venessa Grant, owner, Manifest Site Selection and Event Services, in Prevue’s new white paper, “Dealing With Disruption.”
Along with higher hotel rates, resort fees and various other surcharges are taking a bite out of budgets, and “drip pricing” appears to be happening in a wide swath of the supplier community, from AV to production companies to ground transport, planners report.
Along with those, planners are seeing these new hidden fees crop up:
• fuel surcharges of 8-12 percent (which have not gone away as fuel costs come down)
• COVID-related health and safety charges that are still in effect even though there are no longer any restrictions
• “mandatory gratuities” for hotel housekeeping staff, even as housekeeping services have been reduced at many hotels
• mandatory gratuities at some shuttle bus companies
• “convenience fees” from credit card companies, which are starting to become a regular feature
• ”admin fees” of 2-8 percent added to the mandatory gratuity at restaurants.
Then there are the surprise fees for items that always would have been comped in the past. One planner reported being charged $100/day for a mini refrigerator for a nursing mother’s guest room. Another mentioned not being able to get parking validated for her volunteers who were helping to set up the meeting, since the company managing the garage was not affiliated with the hotel.
For more on this, check out our recent webinar featuring Anne Gorman Vice President, Sales & Marketing, streamlinevents; John Klukan Market Director of Sales + Marketing, JW Marriott Dallas Arts District; and Terry Matthews-Lombardo TML Services Group.