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The difference between hotels and B&Bs? The letter ‘R’. Fee versus Free.

May 4th, 2010 by Richard Grinnell

While Jan and I stay at bed and breakfasts whenever we can, occasionally we do stay at hotels. Have you noticed an every increasing number of fees added on, some that weren’t mentioned on the hotels web page when you booked?

The New York Times recently had an article on the increased use of hotel fees. In part it said:

Over the last few years, the airlines have been adding and increasing fees on checked bags, exit row seats and more, much to the benefit of their bottom lines. And for similar reasons, hotels are likely to add more fees and more stringently enforce or even raise existing charges for cutting a stay short, for example, or for storing luggage.

Jan and I stayed at a major chain hotel in Key Largo for our daughter’s wedding last year and at checkout they added on a daily charge for the refrigerator (which we didn’t use but they said it was there if we had wanted to); a daily parking fee (they had a lot of parking available so it wasn’t because they were limited in space); we had declined internet access for $9.95 a day; and a daily charge for the in-room safe (which again we didn’t use, but, “Hey”, they said, “it was there if you wanted to use it”)…Huh!!! What happened to that low price they showed on my internet reservation?

At 5 Ojo Inn B&B we promise you will never see fees added on for parking, refrigerators, snacks, sodas, luggage storage, full breakfast, concierge services, internet access, ice, or water. We do have to collect the city and state taxes but there won’t be any other hidden ‘service charges’ automatically added on. What you are quoted is an all inclusive charge. Everything is included.

The New York Times article went on to say:

“Hotels have a modest ability now to increase their average daily rate, but they can increase their bottom line by trying to institute more add-on, ancillary fees,” he said. “That seems to be where the travel industry is going.”

It may be where the airline and hotel part of the travel industry is going, but it surely isn’t where the bed and breakfast industry is going. B&Bs have taken the tact of adding value to their service without increasing fees. We think adding fees tends to alienate travelers trying to watch their spending, while adding value gives visitors something extra for their money.

The article ends with:

Fees have “become more accepted as part of the travel experience,” Mr. Hanson said. With travel demand starting to rise, he added, “this gives hotels greater confidence to apply and enforce fees.”

Expected, maybe. Accepted, definitely not! We can see adding on a fee if we use a service which normally wouldn’t be considered part of a hotel stay, say, like the rental of a canoe from their marina. But the rest of those fees, we don’t like them.

One last thing. We recently read an article targeted to hotels titled “How to implement hotel fees without sacrificing customer satisfaction”. Why didn’t they write an article which said, “How to increase reservations by increasing value without increasing fees”? To us, hotels are ‘profit centric’ and bed and breakfasts are ‘guest centric’.

The difference between hotels and B&Bs? The letter ‘R’. Fee versus Free.

5 Ojo Inn Bed and Breakfast, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

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