Boy sunset thunderstorm
Photograph ©2009 by Brian Cohen.

The Importance of Not Abusing Trust

“But why do we care so much about resort fees?” asked Shawn Coomer of Miles to Memories in this article titled Stop Fighting Resort Fees: This Is a MUCH Better Solution!

Why? Because the advent of mandatory resort fees outright abuses the trust of not only potential customers; but also the very companies which bring them business. Mandatory resort fees charged at hotel and resort properties are considered a form of deception by many people.

The Importance of Not Abusing Trust

“Resort fees often help hotels avoid paying commissions to online travel agents,” Shawn wrote in the aforementioned article, “which is why they have become so popular.”

Think about that for a moment. While I can understand basic business in that a lodging company wants to earn as much revenue — and as much profit from that revenue — as possible, to attempt to deny a provider of an entity which sent business their way some of that revenue is unconscionable. If someone sent business my way, I would be more than happy to compensate that person fully and completely and not try to justify holding back some commission based on a technicality such as a mandatory resort fee…

…but basic business is not solely dependent on the almighty dollar. Strong relationships are a key factor to successful business — whether it is conducted with suppliers, customers, stakeholders, and even friendly competitors. Without relationships, most companies arguably cannot stay in business.

As for customers, why does the management of a company think that starting off a relationship with a potential guest with deception is a way of conducting good business?

If two hotel properties were competing with each other and one advertised a lower room rate with a mandatory resort fee while the other advertised the true cost of a room for a night — and both totals were similar in price — which hotel property do you think I would prioritize for my patronage?

The Worthlessness of Mandatory Resort Fees

“A resort fee is a charge levied by a hotel that is generally mandatory and which includes a certain number of amenities.” Shawn is incorrect about the amenities part, in my opinion. Most of the amenities are either basically worthless, or are already included in the benefits of earning elite level status. Do you book a reservation at a hotel property, hoping that they have a newspaper for which you will pay extra because it is so important to you? When was the last time you placed a local call using the telephone in your hotel room? Do you really use the safe in your room, which is likely not secure anyway? Are two bottles of water really worth a fee of $40.00?

In fact, I blatantly poked fun at the “value” which hotel guests supposedly get for their dollars when being forced to pay mandatory resort fees “for the low low room rate of only $18.99 per night, which does not include the resort fee of only $1,313.13 per day plus taxes and fees”:

  • Incoming telegrams and telegraph messages in Morse code
  • Unlimited use of a manual typewriter in our business center — carbon paper is available for copies at an extra charge per piece
  • Free 15 minute usage of radio, television, 8-track tape player, telephone book and Bible in your desk drawer per day — additional usage available at a significant discount
  • Complimentary unlimited advertisements and other unwanted reading material to clutter your room
  • Valuable coupons for use at local retail establishments which offer such useful products and services as video rentals, film processing and the sale of sets of encyclopedias
  • Unlimited use of furniture and closet to store your belongings for the entire duration of your stay
  • Access to on-site restaurants — food and beverages are available at an additional cost
  • Complimentary plumbed water for the sink, shower, toilet and sprinkler system — up to two gallons per day, even in an emergency
  • Free unlimited viewing of room map in case of fire or other emergency — access to emergency exit is available at an extra charge to be determined by us at the time in the event of an actual emergency
  • No extra charge for the fingerprints, lipstick prints and other anomalies you might find on the drinking glasses in your room
  • Complimentary use of towels — no extra charge for any amounts of hair from unknown sources embedded in the towels which you find; but extra towels are available at a discounted nominal additional charge
  • Complimentary use of lighting already equipped in the room for your convenience
  • Unlimited use of bedding, which includes sheets, pillows and a blanket — bed bugs are readily available at an extra cost
  • Opaque solid door to room included to ensure privacy — and use of locks on the door are included as well for your security; and as an added bonus, you will not have to pay a single penny extra for the walls, ceiling and floor which comprise your room except for the grout fee and caulk fee in the toilet room
  • Reusable plastic bag which was the vehicle used to protect your newspaper and hang it on the outside of your door
  • Complimentary use of mirrors in the room — although upon reflection, that might incur an additional fee in the future
  • Complimentary use of wastebasket for included removal of any refuse from your room
  • Complimentary viewing of outside from the convenience of the window equipped with your room
  • Writing instrument and paper — limit one of each per stay
  • Complimentary use of walkways on grounds for your walking pleasure — just bypass the toll gates
  • Complimentary daylight after nighttime concludes
  • Complimentary unlimited amounts of air for your breathing pleasure — heating and cooling of said air available for a modest fee


As I personally believe that trust is a vital key component in conducting business in general, I intend to continue to write about trust and culture as related to the travel industry in future articles — especially as I keep reading and hearing about frequent travelers whose trust in companies in the travel industry has either eroded or disappeared completely for a number of reasons: perceived stealth devaluations of miles and points; the misuse of the word enhancement as a euphemism to describe what is actually not a benefit; and, of course, mandatory resort fees as three of many examples.

Once trust is abused and broken, it is very difficult — and in many cases, virtually impossible — to reestablish. A number of companies exist which I do not patronize simply because they abused my trust in them: they did not honor their end of a deal; they charged me for something I did not want or use and would not redact it; or they would outright lie to me as three of many examples, which did not exactly make me feel good and want to do business with them ever again…

…and a pet peeve of mine is when a company uses the word can’t when they really mean won’t: “I am sorry; but I can’t change that for you.” I especially love when someone claimed they can’t do something — until they are forced in some way to suddenly somehow make it happen by some sort of sheer luck. That does not exactly foster trust, either.

People — whether or not they represent companies or are customers — need to do everything they can to be truthful and do whatever is possible to establish and maintain trust, as virtually everyone’s life would be significantly easier overall as a result. In my opinion, mandatory resort fees do nothing but complicate matters simply because a hotel or resort property is trying to ensure that their room rates initially look better than the competition and hopefully ensnare the potential guest deep enough into the process of booking a reservation to the point that they will continue — not thinking that returning to comparison shopping is worth the extra effort and time — while simultaneously attempting to pay as little as possible to online travel agencies which direct business their way.

Life is more than complicated enough without having to deal with people who blatantly misuse and abuse trust — but people do it anyway for selfish reasons; and some are so thoughtlessly egregious about it as to not have any scruples or conscience, with no consideration for the feelings of others just so they can satisfy their own needs.

By the way, I do agree with Shawn Coomer that “The ‘Real Hotel Rate’ would include the resort fee plus taxes. Basically, what I would see when searching and booking is the EXACT amount I will pay. Just like with airfare!” Interestingly, that is what I — as well as many consumer advocates — have been fighting for years to have happen.

I have written numerous articles in the past pertaining to trust — including:

Photograph ©2009 by Brian Cohen.

  1. “…does not include the resort fee of only $1,313.13 per day plus taxes and fees”
    Very clever Brian. I love it!
    Resort fees are simply a reflection of the lack of moral values of the executives who try to increase their company profits by cheating the companies who bring them business and simultaneously deceiving their own customers. These people are scum who do not have a conscience. They will also have no problem whatsoever backstabbing their colleagues and employees to gain promotions, raises, and bonuses. Happens every day around the world, unfortunately.

  2. Every single Kimpton charges a resort fee-that is their policy!! Very rarely does a resort fee have any value to it, and if it actually does, it is usually priced too high. How about if you pay a resort fee that gives you access to loungers and an umbrella at the beach and the pool, but none are available? Does the hotel give you your resort fee back? I paid $75 a day to upgrade to a club room at a Hyatt so I had club access, but they ran out of diet soda for 24 hours and I don’t drink regular soda. They did not give me my $75 back or even a portion of it.

  3. The problem isn’t the resort fees but that they are mandatory. Airlines also nickel and dime but you can choose to say no. If you can’t say no there is absolutely no reason not to include it in the room price.

  4. I don’t see what the problem with resort fees is. I can’t speak for others but in my experience hotels clearly state that a resort fee will be charged and what it is in the rate details which also include tax information and government fees. When people book hotels it is up to them to read the rate details on the payment page before putting in the cc number and completing the booking. This is pretty standard for anyone who books rooms.

    Why don’t hotels just eliminate resort fees and include it in the room rate? The answer may have to do with the chain hotels which are owned privately and have to pay a percentage of revenue or profit to the chain. Depending on the agreement and chain resort fees (used to pay for things like cabanas and beach chairs) may bypass this. another reason is the promotional aspect of special rates with the resort fee waived like last year at the Ritz Grand Cayman for the harbour suite.

    All the people complaining about resort fees just think they are going to pay less if hotels did away or were forced to do away with them. Not at all. That would just mean jacked up room rates and they will be paying the same.

  5. Thank you for standing up for us. The end of resort fees is in sight and you have played a role in that.

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