In case you missed it last week, Scott McCartney devoted his weekly column for the Wall Street Journal to hotel fees—or more precisely, to the sharp increase in fees travelers are seeing at hotels across the country. "Eager to boost revenue," McCartney writes, "and perhaps emboldened by the success airlines have had adding fees, many hotels are raising fees and hitting customers with more surcharges that don't show up next to room rates."
He goes on to detail the ways in which travelers have found hotels raising fees or, in some cases, even sneaking them onto a guest's bill: "Some hotels are charging mandatory valet parking fees if you show up with a car. Some have upped their 'resort fees,' required whether or not you use the pool or exercise room. Housekeeping gratuities and bellman fees are aggressively being added to bills, travelers report."
However, hotel guests tend to have more leverage than airline passengers, and travelers can often persuade hotel staff to remove some fees from the bill, especially when they're charged for something they didn't use. What this means is that it's more important than ever to actually read your bill—carefully—and keep a copy to compare with your credit card statement. Often hotels will add charges for minibar or phone use after you've checked out. McCartney writes that some rooms even charge for in-room safes whether you use them or not (a number of our readers commented about this on Sarah Pascarella's Six Sneaky Fees Your Can Avoid).
Moral of the story? Be careful, be diligent, and speak up. Hotels are struggling mightily, and without the ability to cut capacity like the airlines, they must look for other ways to raise revenue—and that means squeezing more money out of their guests.