Taking the Sting Out of Fees and Surcharges

By Vanessa Horwell Founder & Chief Visibility Officer, ThinkInk & TravelInk'd | July 31, 2011

Due to the recession-driven deep discounting tactics practiced over the past few years, hotels are scrambling to implement revenue management strategies that focus on new ancillary revenues. While such strategies have proven to be effective, they also have a tendency, if not implemented through smart tactics, to be met with guest revolt. All too often, guests feel "nickel and dimed" by added fees, surcharges and gratuities unceremoniously added to their bill at checkout time.

In order to avoid losing guests-thus losing the increased revenue that these fees and service charges were designed to create-you, the hotelier, must find ways to introduce the new fees and surcharges to guests in a way that will make them more palatable.

This article will examine several common types of fees and surcharges and will provide tactical recommendations on how to introduce them to guests without causing upset or losing out on future bookings.

Gratuity & Service Fees

These service fees go toward covering the costs of staff, from bellhops, to valets, to housekeeping personnel.

Guests' feelings toward gratuity fees can be both positive and negative; while these fees are generally more acceptable to customers because they assume that the fee is passed along directly to the hotel's employees (not just into "corporate coffers"), guests also feel that gratuity fees should be performance-based. By making these fees mandatory, guests who feel that service was not up to par will be unhappy. Of course, if service is below average, then the guest has a legitimate complaint, and management, regardless of its ancillary fee structure, should address the underlying issue of poor service.

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