Oliver Lovat: Would there be a hidden cost of publicizing resort fees?

July 28, 2023
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The proposed Hotel Fees Transparency Act may pass on some of the exact costs it intends to save tourists from.

Regular Gaming America contributor Oliver Lovat has seen resorts come and go during his tenure as the CEO of the Denstone Group in Las Vegas. His analysis of the ‘curse’ on the Strip’s 10th-ever resort, The Dunes, features insight still relevant to properties that may fail to evolve in tandem with the changing gaming industry today.

One proposed change that would undoubtedly affect Las Vegas resorts in the near future if passed is The Hotel Fees Transparency Act. The bipartisan bill seeks to establish federal pricing guidelines for hotels, which up until now have been voluntary.

‘Suprise’ resort fees, or add-ons at final checkout, would be combatted by the bill’s intended requirement for “anyone advertising a hotel room or a short-term rental to clearly show upfront the final price a customer would pay to book lodging.” President Joe Biden is in agreement with the policy, as he has recently called for the up-front disclosure of resort price lists during a State of the Union address.

President Biden said, “We’ll ban surprise resort fees that hotels tack on to your bill. These fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts.”

However, Lovat is not convinced the outcome of such a bill would actually be in line with the customer-focused expectation. He told Gaming America, “Nobody likes resort fees, but there may be unintended consequences for the customer. From the outset, the fees were a composite to the room rate that were not eligible for commission by the Online Travel Agents. If added to the room rates, customers will see higher room rates, incorporating the resort fee, plus the extra commission that will be payable.”

The American Gaming Association’s recent revenue tracker has revealed that land-based gaming across the US has decreased 0.6% from 2022 so far. Higher room rates and commission costs passed down to potential guests of casino resorts could indirectly see that decrease sharpen.

Lovat agrees that those who are lucky enough to be treated to the experience or qualify as high rollers anyway may not feel the sting, but that the average hotel guest, especially in destinations like Las Vegas, will certainly notice a change. “Casino customers that receive complimentary rooms will be unaffected, but for the majority of tourists, Las Vegas will appear more expensive.”

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