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U.S. consumers paid an estimated $2.04 billion in mandatory resort fees in 2015, according to research from non-profit consumers group Travelers United.
The figure represents a whopping 35 percent rise from 2014, when guests shelled out just over $1.5 billion in mandatory resort fees.
The study released by Travelers United Tuesday found that as many as 1,671 hotels and lodging sites in the U.S. charge resort fees that are not included in the daily lodging rate advertised. That figure - collected in October 2015 - grew by more than 40 percent from December 2014 when 1,191 U.S. hotels and lodging sites were found to have charged hidden resort fees.
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However, in addition to the mandatory resort fees becoming more prominent, they're becoming more expensive.
Travelers United's study found that more than 73 percent of hotels and lodging sites charging resort fees charged at least $10 in fees. What's more, the average mandatory resort fee reached $24.93 in October 2015, compared to $19.20 in December 2014.
The figure was highest in Florida, where resort fees averaged $28.63 across 549 hotel listings, per Travelers United.
"If the fees are mandatory, they must be included in the nightly rate advertised," Travelers United founder and chairman Charlie Leocha said in a statement. "The FTC must enforce the ban on deceptive practices that Congress wrote into the law."
Leocha added that "excluding these fees harms consumers who cannot comparison shop effectively, and penalizes honest hotel owners."
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The incentive for hotels to implement and in some cases increase these fees is clear given the boost to revenue. It's estimated that mandatory resort fees accounted for more than 16 percent of those hotels' revenue in 2015, a notable rise from 13.3 percent the previous year.
Amid the disconcerting trend, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has issued a letter to 10 U.S. representatives calling for new legislation aimed at protecting consumers from hidden fees.
Although the American Hotel & Lodging Association points out that these fees pay for "a range of hotel amenities, from pool use, gym access, towel services, to Wi-Fi and newspapers," their absence from the advertised room price is what is most concerning to consumers and their defenders.
After all, a survey commissioned by Travelers United this past summer found that 80 percent of American consumers believe hotels should be required to include all mandatory fees in the nightly rate they advertise. This way consumers can comparison shop more effectively.
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