LAS VEGAS, NV, March 11, 2013 — Caesars Entertainment, the heroic hold out in a long-running campaign against charging hotel fees, finally succumbed to the trend this month and started charging daily hotel fees at its popular Las Vegas properties. Now Las Vegas visitors will pay fees ranging from $10-$25 at Caesars Entertainment’s seven Las Vegas Strip hotel properties, including Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Bally’s, the Flamingo, the Quad, Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood.
Why has it taken so long for Caesars to get in the game? Company representatives say guests are demanding fees or a packaged room deal that includes fees, rather than continuing to be nickel and dimed over each amenity.
“This is in response to the increasing demand from our guests to provide a package price instead of the inconvenience of separate fees,” said Gary Thompson, the company’s director of corporate communications. “We continue to do all we can to provide our guests with the best value, best products and best experiences in Las Vegas.”
The topic of resort fees became a mock matter of incendiary influence two summers ago when a troupe of more than 50 showgirls from Bally’s Jubilee took to the Strip to protest what was a relatively the new trend at that time: the charging of resort fees by Las Vegas resort properties. The women marched with faux anger in fishnets and feathers and carried signs saying “Just Say No to Resort Fees!” and “Our Money, Our Choice!”
The upshot was a successful and viral media campaign by Caesars Entertainment to underscore its commitment to having no part of that practice at its hotels. As a piece of its promotional push to separate itself from the pack it set up a “no resort fees” Facebook page, drawing tens of thousands of followers.
The daily added charges do offer something in return. They buy such amenities as Wifi Internet access, pool access, gym access, bottled water in the room, and daily newspaper. Some hotels add on coupon freebies and 2-4-1 draws with the tariff.
But a recent chart of resort fees throughout Las Vegas shows that most hotels are charging significantly more and offering significantly less for these services than they were offering in recent years.
A recent survey conducted by William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV noted that most visitors to Las Vegas do not pick hotels based on whether or not they charge a resort fee. The survey of more than 200 people questioned on the Strip showed 88 percent did not pick a hotel based on resort fees. However, only 30 percent said they valued the amenities they were paying for and more than half indicated they would prefer to pay for what they used.
Hotels love the fees because they generate profits of 80 to 90 percent over the cost of the amenities provided.
Perhaps the magic is in the package, however. Most customers, when faced with the fees, would rather see them wrapped into the room rates, rather than broken out as a separate fee.
Recent FTC attention to the matter in November prompted the federal agency to urge hotel companies to disclose these hidden fees at the time of booking. Warning letters were sent to nearly two-dozen hotel companies saying that failing to disclose these fees was a deceptive business practice and considered illegal.
A recent study by the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies found that U.S. hotels collect more than $1 billion in fees and surcharges each year. Not all of them are considered “daily resort fees.” Other fees to watch and inquire about if they show up on your bill: gym fees, early check-in fees, additional person fee, the who-moved-the-minibar-soda-fee, parking fees, housekeeping and spa gratuities, and telephone surcharges.
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