Have you ever booked a vacation online, only to discover that the cost for your lodging accommodations ended up being much higher? One way that can happen is when resort fees are attached. Yet not providing customers with the full picture ahead of time can get you sued. Just ask Marriott.
The company was indeed sued for what is known as drip pricing. It is a common problem, involving many different types of ‘undisclosed fees,’ and Marriott is by far not the only guilty party. The lawsuit was filed by the District of Columbia, and it could cost Marriott millions. We are now seeing a huge backlash against hotels’ drip pricing.
Allegations against Marriott range back an entire decade, and you can imagine this process is going to be messy for the company. Not that it will prevent many people from staying at a Marriott hotel, but you get the picture. The lawsuit has certainly awakened and angered consumers, and other hotels are sure to take action as well.
Keep in mind the way hotels are booked these days, too. They are often booked on third party travel sites and not just on hotel sites or in person. In person, you would certainly get an explanation of all the fees. So why are hotels failing to do so on their sites and on third party travel sites?
You can imagine travel sites like Expedia are going to crack down, too. The lawsuit certainly got their attention and the attention of other travel booking sites. Are there more lawsuits to come? Only time will tell, but you can bet that companies are going to start being more transparent when it comes to all fees associated with booking a room.
When taxes are tacked on, that’s understandable. But when taxes and fees are grouped together as a surprise hidden charge on the last step for booking a hotel online, there is a transparency problem. Most would say that is completely unacceptable.
While the companies are doing all they can to get people to book with them, they must be transparent and honest. All the blame can’t be placed on Marriott, however, as this is an industry wide problem to be sure. That’s not to say that every hotel chain or private hotel is putting this deceptive pricing model into practice.
But still, it is again a wake up call to Marriott, other hotels, travel booking sites, customers and everyone else out there. Prices in hotel advertisements need to match what customers are charged. Otherwise, it is false advertising and well, drip pricing, to be more specific. The backlash against hotels’ drip pricing is now very clear.
You can’t advertise a room for $95, and then add all kinds of fees along with the taxes to make the cost of the room much higher. Business advertising has never been allowed to work that way, offline or online. And Marriott is being used as an example here that drip pricing will not stand. Customers are going to have to keep booking hotels, so someone else is going to have to stick up for them. Perhaps that is why this Marriott matter is going to court.