Extras, extras; read all about it!

Writers tend to travel a lot. They go for research, relaxation, book promotion, and to attend conferences. One of the great things about traveling is how educational it can be. For instance, we recently learned that a seemingly brand new bottle of soft drink requires historic preservation! Who knew? We also learned that we were expected to subsidize these efforts.

Mark this under “Truth is stranger than fiction…and usually more expensive”. It has to do with the never ending search for squeezing a few more bucks from the consumer. This time by the travel industry.

When hotels want to charge more, but don’t want to scare travelers away with higher rates, many are taking a tip from the airlines and making up the difference with add-ons, fees, and hidden charges for things any normal person would assume were included. For instance, you’d think that the cost of the hotel includes use of the pool, but many hotels are now charging a “resort fee” on top of the room cost. Whether or not you actually use the pool doesn’t matter. This is like a movie theater charging an entertainment fee on top of the ticket cost. Strangely, the more expensive the place is to begin with, the more creative they seem to be with extras. Cheaper hotels are far more likely to include parking, WiFi, and breakfast in their room rates than their more expensive sisters.

We recently saw extras raised to an art form when we visited a well-known out of state resort/conference hotel. In addition to the already pricey room rate, the place charged a $39 resort fee and a 6% historic preservation fee. These fees were added to everything, even to a bottle of soft drink, leaving us to wonder just how old that bottle actually was, and exactly how they were preserving it.

“Historic” bottles?

With these extra add-ons, a room advertised for, say, $300, will actually set you back $355 (plus state taxes of course) They also add a 20% gratuity to your restaurant bill “for your convenience” and, just in case you have any money left at this point, provide a line on your bill for any extra gratuity you might be itching to part with.

So if you travel for whatever reason, keep your eyes open and ask lots of questions about what is included  before booking a room, or a flight, or a cruise, or anything related. Add up the extras before you commit. Hit the road, but don’t get taken for a ride.

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