Marriott is Now Including Resort Fees in Initial Total Hotel Price Displays
The only thing worse than resort fees is hidden resort fees. While Marriott is not getting rid of them, it is now including them, as well as destination fees, in initial hotel search results on its website and app. Previously, resort and destination fees would not be shown until the last page or so of the booking process.
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Why is Marriott Making This Change?
Marriott has no say in the matter. In 2021, the company settled with Pennsylvania and was ordered to include resort and destination fees in the initial search results. It missed the February 2023 deadline, which resulted in a $225,000 fine. While the new deadline is May 15, 2023, it appears Marriott has fulfilled its obligation a few days early. Here are the five most notable things Marriott was required to do, as reported by View From The Wing.
- All rate displays have to include the total price and it has to be the most prominently displayed price.
- Call center agents have to quote prices inclusive of fees, too.
- Rate displays sorted by price have to be sorted by total price inclusive of all costs
- Resort and destination fees cannot be lumped in with taxes in any display
- Before completing a booking Marriott has to display what’s provided by the property in exchange for the mandatory fee. This isn’t only something you’ll find out at check-in anymore, once implemented.
The main takeaways are the resort fees are now included the first time you see the hotel’s price and what you get for paying the mandatory fee. Unfortunately, taxes and other fees are NOT included by default at this time when searching on Marriott’s website. To see them, you must check the “Show rates with taxes and all fees” box.
Why is This New Policy Important?
This policy is important because it forces Marriott to be transparent with its prices. Previously, it deceptively listed prices that did not include the mandatory resort fees. That made it appear at first glance as though its rates were cheaper than they were.
In some cases, customers would not see the total price with the resort fees until after they already entered their personal and payment information. While the total price with resort fees was always displayed before finalizing the booking, it was a waste of time having to fill everything out before learning the real total price.
Finally, Marriott now explains right off the bat what you get for paying the mandatory resort fee. While you can’t opt out of it, you at least know if you are willing to move forward with the booking despite having to pay the fee.
Are Resort Fees Bad?
I consider mandatory resort fees to be junk fees. I believe everything should be included in the room rate. You should also have the option to opt out of them. In some cases, you may not even know about them until you arrive at the hotel. It is common to pay in full in advance for a hotel for everything except the resort fees, which are due upon arrival.
Unfortunately, hotels implemented resort fees for a few reasons.
- To artificially make room rates appear to be lower
- To appear favorably in third-party hotel searches
Hiding resort fees until the last second allowed Marriott to make it appear its rates were cheaper than they were. Unfortunately, many other hotels continue to use this tactic.
Additionally, it allows hotels with mandatory resort fees to appear to be cheaper than hotels without them. For example, a Marriott room could be $300 per night plus a $50 per night resort fee. Another hotel may be $320 per night with no resort fee. In online travel agencies (OTAs) and other hotel search engines, the Marriott hotel would be shown as the cheaper option despite it being $30 more per night.
Here are a few common resort fee “benefits”.
- Wi-Fi access (or an upgrade to the faster version)
- Gym Access
- Pool Access
- Beach Towels
- Beach Chairs
- Daily Water Bottles
Even if you do not use any of them, you still have to pay for them. Remember, Marriott is not getting rid of its resort and destination fees. Instead, it can no longer hide them and must be more transparent.
How is Marriott Now Showing Prices?
Marriott claims the reason it missed the original deadline is that it needed to update its website technology. While I am skeptical that this is the full story, the company has delivered on its obligation.
On the Marriott Website
Marriott’s website is now much more transparent with the total cost. Each hotel now shows the following.
- Price Per Night (including the resort fee)
- The Resort Fee Cost Per Night
- The Option to Click to See What the Resort Fee Includes
Unfortunately, the price is still not the total price because it does not include taxes and other fees. For some reason, the “Show rates with taxes and all fees” is unchecked by default.
Click the box before doing anything else to see the real total prices.
On the Marriott App
By default, the app shows the rate and says “Taxes and fees included” with no breakdown of what the resort fee is. Whether or not that changes by the May 15 deadline is anyone’s guess, but it does show the total price initially now.
Will Other Hotel Brands Get More Transparent With Resort Fees?
In my opinion, they will not unless they are forced to by law. While no one likes the practice, it has worked for hotels to not be completely transparent about resort fees. Travelers will continue to be surprised at checkout, or at the hotel, that they owe $20 to $70 in resort fees per night.
To be clear, Marriott was not alone in not being fully transparent about resort fees early on. Practically every big hotel brand still does the same thing.
Will Online Travel Agencies Include Marriott Resort Fees in the Total Price?
OTAs do not have to include resort fees in all Marriott rate displays. That is a huge advantage for third-party booking websites, like Hotels.com and Booking.com. These OTAs can do what Marriott used to do, and that is display room rates that do not include the resort fee. While all of these sites eventually detail Marriott’s resort and destination fees, it may not be until the final screen before finalizing the booking.
That may lead people to believe it is cheaper to book Marriott rooms on OTAs as opposed to directly with Marriott.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts
This is a good start, but it needs to go further. Marriott should be required by default to show prices with taxes too. Other major hotel brands, including Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and Wyndham, should all be required to be more transparent with their resort fees. Finally, third-party hotel booking sites should have to play by the same rules. Including resort fees and taxes in the initial price is good for consumers. Doing it creates a better booking experience for everyone and builds brand trust.
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