Arne Sorenson
Source: Marriott International, Incorporated.

Resort Fees are Here to Stay, According to the Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International

“You’ve got resort fees in the hotel industry, you’ve got baggage fees in the airline space. None of us as consumers necessarily love it. But what we tried to do is to be very clear about our disclosure.”

Resort Fees are Here to Stay, According to the Chief Executive Officer of Marriott International

What you just read is a statement by Arne Sorenson — who is the current president and chief executive officer of Marriott International, Incorporated — in this interview with Daniel Roth, who is the editor-in-chief of LinkedIn.

The comparison of resort fees to baggage fees is only relevant if those baggage fees are mandatory for all passengers on long-haul flights who travel with more than one personal item. In order to advertise low airfares, ultra-low-cost carriers may charge passengers for baggage which either is carried aboard the airplane or checked in the cargo hold. Very few passengers travel on transoceanic flights simply to spend a few hours at the destination before returning home. When a passenger travels a long distance, he or she is likely to stay a long enough duration to ensure that the long flight was worth traveling — and that typically means enough belongings to carry to be charged a baggage fee.

I almost never check baggage — but some ultra-low-cost carriers will charge me a fee for my carry-on bag anyway.

Otherwise, the comparison between resort fees — of which all guests at a hotel or resort property are required to pay — and baggage fees is moot. More often than not, baggage fees are charged only to those passengers who need to check baggage.

Sorenson also said during the interview that “The first resort fees were probably a decade ago — maybe a little bit longer than that…they were — yes, of course they were financially driven in some respects — they were also a way of saying…let’s pull in the waterfront paddle board rental or the bike rental or the other things that can be part of this package; and basically our approach was to say we need to disclose it fairly, we need to deliver value to the customer so that they are saying ‘well, I may not love paying it in the abstract but I see I get lots of things I can take advantage of because of this resort fee’.” Afterwards, he claims that they listen to their customers and what they have to say.

That is great. I agree with Sorenson — except he neglected to address the mandatory part of the resort fee. A customer should be able to decide for what he or she wants to pay extra.

What Hotel Properties Should Do With Resort Fees

If Sorenson is serious about wanting to “deliver value to the customer”, have the resort fees be optional rather than mandatory.

In fact, a hotel or resort property can be creative with marketing extra products and services. How about customers either choosing from several packages or selecting items to build their own packages, of which they would be more than happy and willing to pay the extra money?

Either way, those packages must contain items of value — not a newspaper which the guest must fetch at the front desk, or local calls using the telephone in the room.

That would be so simple and present a win-win situation for both the consumer and the hotel or resort property — but then, ensuring that the resort fee was optional instead of mandatory removes the ability to advertise a falsely deceiving lower room rate while simultaneously denying paying some of the commission to online travel agencies which send business their way.

Sorenson claimed in the interview that the “food and beverage credit which is often equal to — sometimes a little bit more — than the fee itself” when talking about offering customers “a multiple of the cost of the fee” in terms of packages. Value is relative. More often than not, that ten percent discount applies to food and beverages which are purchased within a restaurant or bar which is on the premises of the hotel or resort property — and the items for sale in those restaurants or bars are often overpriced. Guest are likely to get better food and beverages at restaurants and bars away from the hotel or resort property at a lower cost.

When was the last time you used one of those discounts at a restaurant or bar which is on the premises of a hotel or resort property?


Sorenson claimed that the mandatory resort fees charged by hotel and resort properties are “well-disclosed”. If that is indeed true, then why did the attorney general for the District of Columbia file a lawsuit last week against Marriott International, Incorporated which claims that the multinational lodging company purposely both hid the true price of hotel rooms from consumers and charged hidden mandatory resort fees for the purpose of increasing profits?

Sorenson vowed to fight the lawsuit.

That I vehemently oppose the implementation of mandatory resort fees, facilities fees and destination fees is no secret to you if you have been a reader of The Gate for years — they should either be optional or eliminated altogether — and I will just let this extensive body of work over the years pertaining to mandatory resort fees speak for me…

Source: Marriott International, Incorporated.

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