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The Fuel Surcharge of the Hotel Industry

If you travel much, you have more then likely heard of fuel surcharge’s that many airline’s charge. This was instituted several years ago when fuel was very high and the airline’s used it as an excuse to pay the difference in fuel costs.  The problem with this is fuel has long since went down even cheaper than before, yet many airlines keep this surcharge.  In my opinion, the hotel industry is not immune to these sneaky tricks. Parking fees has become the hotel industry’s version of the fuel surcharge.  A very large majority of hotels charge for parking now, which in many cases I find ridiculous!  Another trick that some hotels use to add a fuel surcharge is adding a “resort” fee.  We see this less than parking, but its also an unnecessary fee.

Hotels add these fees after the fact, so they can advertise cheap rates, and also pay third party sites like Expedia and Travelocity lower commission based on rate, not total bill.   A hotel in Las Vegas can charge $39.00 a night for a room, which sounds great, but when you add the $29.00 resort fee and $13.00 parking fee you now have an $81.00 a night plus tax rate!  Doing this benefits the hotel in a few ways, obviously economically, they get the extra money, but also only pay commission to travel agent based on the $39.00 .  Also by doing this the hotel can advertise “cheap” rates and in many cases you don’t know until its too late. Hotels, in many cases only give you points based on the base rate, not the fees, which also saves them money.

In some cases I understand the fee!  Sometimes if you stay in a busy downtown area and real estate is very high, and crowded, I can stomach a small parking fee, but some of these fees can get up to close to $100 a night.  What I cannot understand or agree with is hotels on the outskirts of town , with plenty of space, still charge for parking.   I compiled a short list of hotels and the parking rates.

SPG
  • St Regis NYC / Valet $71
  • St Regis Houston / Valet $33  Self $17
  • Aloft Chicago Downtown / Valet $62  Self $49
  • Sheraton OKC Downtown / Valet $25  Self $10
  • Sheraton Suites Dallas / Self $7.95
  • Le Meriden Galleria Dallas / Valet $25 Self $20
Hyatt
  • Hyatt Downtown Seattle / Self $30
  • Grand Hyatt DFW / Valet $25 Self $0.00 (free)
Hilton
  • Hilton Anatole Dallas / Valet $29 Self $20
  • Hilton Downtown Chicago / Valet $71 Self $57

Do You Have to Pay?

It seems there is very little one can do to get out of these fees.  Like I said sometimes its understandable but other times you feel taken advantage of and want to try to do something to reverse these fees.  If you are an elite with the hotel loyalty program, sometimes an off-the-cuff comment may get the charge revered or taken off, but there is no written rule.  The only guaranteed benefit of free parking I could find is with the new World of Hyatt Program. If you are a Globalists, which is Hyatt’s new top tier elite, on free night award stays you get free parking.  Besides that its up to the hotel.

 

Alternatives

Anyone that knows me, knows I am a bargain hunter!  I would rather save money and take 2 trips for the price of one, yet I wont slum it either.  A few things you can do is look into parking fees if you will be driving.  Many times fees aren’t listed and very hard to find, so I just google the name of the hotel and the words “Parking Fees”.  If you are going to a major downtown area, there are always cheaper alternatives.  Many websites and apps have sprung up to help with this.  As an example I recently had a stay at Aloft Downtown Chicago.  The rates to park was about half as much as the hotel room $49.  Using the sites I found parking for $20 a night.  This works in many major cities.  They utilize extra parking spaces that the owners want to make money off of that’s not being used, and also parking garages.  In my example, the parking garage was literally behind the hotel, and more than half the price!  For all I know the hotel uses this garage and just makes a huge profit.  Here are a few examples:

And of course there is always just street parking if you trust it.  And many times there is free or metered parking nearby that is reasonable, versus what the hotel is charging.

 

In Summary

 

As you can see by the examples listed above, parking fees can really add up, and have really become the “fuel surcharge” of the hotel industry.  As I previously said, many times the fee is justified and others its not, its up to you to decide if it is or not.  If you have to drive and have to stay in a certain area, look into the alternatives listed above, or you could always speak to the manager and see what can be done.

I do not feel bad about trying to avoid these fees if they are unjustified.  Many times the hotels are fully booked, with high rates, and plenty of parking space, so its simply greed and taking advantage of people.  I feel like hotels should so a better job explaining these fees and putting them upfront in the reservation process so you can make an educated choice when choosing a hotel.  Do your research and you can save a lot of money when driving a car to a hotel.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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