Do you offer customer-friendly pricing? Or, are your customers surprised to find that fees, surcharges or other costs have been added to their bill and that their total cost is more than they expected? When this happens, customers can end up feeling like they are being taken advantage of.
I was once that customer when I was in the market for new tires for my car. I called several tire dealers for prices and went with the lowest bidder. However, when my bill was rung up, I was unpleasantly surprised to find out about the extra fees that were added to the price of the tires. Afterward, I called another dealer who had originally quoted me a higher price and found out that their price included everything. I did feel as if the first dealer had taken advantage of me.
Airline passengers are some of the hardest hit when it comes to added fees. Most passengers are budget conscious and shop around for the best price when purchasing a ticket for their flight, but when they check in they are hit by a $25 fee for one piece of checked luggage and often another fee if they want an aisle seat. I took an informal poll of some passengers waiting for a flight and asked how they felt about the extra fees. Most begrudgingly accepted them—what choice did they have? They felt nickeled-and-dimed, and even cheated, if they didn’t have “status” with the airline. One family of three I spoke to had to pay a $50 premium just so they could get three seats together.
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Well, the hotel industry was apparently feeling left out of the concept of charging fees for extras. More and more, hotels are charging small fees for services that were once provided as a courtesy to their guests. These “extra” services might include things like printing a boarding pass, receiving a package for a guest or checking bags at the bell stand.
What they are actually charging for is convenience. For example:
- You can choose to pay for the convenience of Internet in your room, versus free Internet in the hotel lobby. Which, by the way is available to anyone, even if they are not guests of the hotel.
- You could pay $5 for the convenience of taking a can of soda out of the mini-bar in your room other than walking down the hallway to get one for a dollar out of the machine.
- How about paying $2 for a towel in the hotel’s gym, instead of going back to your room because you forgot to bring one of the towels from the bathroom? (This actually happened to me.)
Some hotels now charge a “daily resort fee” for amenities such as use of the gym (with towels), free Internet, a daily newspaper, and more. They could just charge a little more for the room, but of course they want to compete on what appears to be a lower price.
Not all hotels are adding on these extra charges. There are many business that avoid added fees, and I think this is a smart practice. Why, in this day and age when customers are looking for the best value, would you risk alienating them by tacking on extra, often unexpected, charges? They may pay the fees once, but what about the next time? Most likely, they will do a little research and choose to go with one of your competitors that offers the same in the way of quality, location, etc., and includes everything at a fair price. I know I would.