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Hospitality Industry Calls for Fair Application of Regulation on "Junk Fees"

Hospitality Industry Calls for Fair Application of Regulation on “Junk Fees”

Hospitality industry leaders are voicing their support for regulation on “junk fees,” emphasizing the need for equal application across the lodging sector.

American Hotel & Lodging Association CEO Chip Rogers stated, “Our position is that, yes, all fees should be disclosed upfront, but it should be applied equally to everyone in the industry.” He expressed concerns that regulations might target hotels exclusively, leaving short-term rentals and online travel agencies (OTAs) unaffected.

The Junk Fee Prevention Act, introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse, aims to address these concerns. Under the bill, all lodging entities, including hotels, OTAs, and short-term rentals, would be required to clearly display total prices, inclusive of mandatory fees, in advertisements and initial price displays.

Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano supported this stance, noting that Marriott has been apprehensive about resort fee-related crackdowns, as they historically excluded OTAs from the conversation. However, Marriott has proactively included mandatory fees in its room rates since mid-May of last year, in response to consumer protection measures.

Capuano emphasized Marriott’s commitment to fee transparency, stating, “The recent changes we made were not a start to being transparent on fees, they were simply an enhancement to transparency that we already offered.” He also defended resort fees, stating that they are not “junk fees” if they provide real value, which Marriott rigorously evaluates.

The Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule last fall to eliminate unfair or deceptive fees, which ASTA supported. ASTA’s senior vice president and general counsel, Peter Lobasso, stressed the importance of fee transparency across all booking channels.

California has also taken action, with Gov. Gavin Newsom signing state Senate Bill 478 into law, which bans businesses from advertising prices that do not include all mandatory fees.

Rogers hopes that the Junk Fee Prevention Act will provide a comprehensive national solution to the issue. He expressed concerns about the complexity of passing legislation at the federal level but emphasized the need for a unified approach to avoid a patchwork of state rules.