by Michael J. Shapiro | November 01, 2011

The U.S. hotel industry will collect a record $1.8 billion in fees and surcharges in 2011, according to a study from Dr. Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean, clinical professor and HVS chair in hospitality, tourism and sports management at New York University. The increase over last year's $1.7 billion, noted the report, is due to increased occupancy and new or higher fees at many properties.

Hanson analyzed annual fees and surcharges back to 2000, based on interviews with industry executives, reviews of financial data and other hotel information.  

The charges have become increasingly common for groups, Hanson noted, particularly at resorts, where a favorable room rate often is accompanied by a resort fee so attendees can take advantage of amenities. "And those fees typically are not highly negotiable," he said.

Hanson also noted that less experienced planners often sign contracts saying standard fees and surcharges might be added, only to be surprised later by the costs. Increasingly, though, experienced planners are requesting an addendum that reads, "There will be no additional fees or surcharges other than those specified in this agreement."

These added fees often represent 80 to 90 percent profit -- and the upward trend is likely to continue as the hotel industry rebounds.

Some lodging companies, however, have publicly eschewed resort fees. "We're committed to transparency with our customers," said Michael Massari, senior vice president with Caesars Entertainment, "and believe this commitment will continue to build loyalty within our family of properties."