When a family from Kansas saves up for their first trip to Walt Disney World, it’s likely to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. A trip to Walt Disney World is expensive. Take for example a family in Wichita, Kansas. The average median household income in Wichita is $44,477. The cheapest flight from Wichita to Orlando is about $280. Multiple that by four for a family of four and that is $1,120. Now factor in Disney World tickets which are currently $105 for adults and $100 for children. So for a family of four, that’s $410 PER DAY at Disney. That is extremely expensive for a family from Wichita making $44,477 a year. Where can this family save money for their trip? On their hotel.
So if they search from price lowest to highest on a search engine like Expedia or Priceline, they should be able to see the lowest priced hotel first. However, because of hotel resort fees, that likely is not what is actually happening here. The lowest displayed price is the one with the lowest ADVERTISED price, not the lowest actual cost. A family from Wichita that has never been to Orlando is highly unlikely to know about hotel resort fees. They don’t know that searching by price on Expedia or Priceline is totally worthless because of all of the hotels in the Orlando area with hidden resort fees. They likely assume the advertised rate is the actual rate of the hotel room. Little do they know that the Best Western Orlando Convention Center Hotel has an undisclosed fee in addition to its nightly rate. As does the Comfort Inn & Suites near Universal Orlando Resort. So does the Howard Johnson by Wyndham Lake Front Park Kissimmee and the Days Inn by Wyndham Orlando Near Millenia Mall. The Econo Lodge on International Drive in Orlando also has a resort fee, just like both Quality Suites Hotels in Orlando. The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld has a $19.95 resort fee every single night as does the nearby Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista. It’s pretty obvious that a family choosing to save money by staying at an Econo Lodge assumes the advertised price is the final price.
Unfortunately today, even a family staying in budget hotels can easily be hit with an extra $140 of fees for a week trip to Orlando. At hotels IN the Disney World park itself, like the Swan and Dolphin Hotels, the deceptive resort fee is as high as $30 per night. This is predatory pricing. It’s aimed to steal from the most vulnerable, hardworking Americans who save up for their whole lives to bring their kids to Disney World.
Who is tolerating this behavior? The politicians in these locations who have accepted thousands and thousands of dollars from the hotel lobby, the gambling lobby and individual hotel chains and owners. State Attorneys General could sue based on existing state law to end hotel resort fees. Indeed, the Attorney General of Nebraska has sued Hilton Hotels over undisclosed resort fees. Any state Attorney General could sue but interestingly Nebraska (and DC) have taken a lead here. Nebraska, a state whose politicians are not beholden to hotel special interests and whose residents are being scammed by hotels when they take once in a lifetime trips to places like Disney World, has set the bar for a political response by suing over deceptive hotel resort fees.
It only makes sense for states like Kansas and others to work to protect their citizens from the work of politicians in Florida, Hawaii, New York, California and Nevada who have ignored this issue for far too long. When I contacted Buddy Dyer (Democrat), Mayor of Orlando, to talk to him about hotel resort fees his office told me to contact the Orlando Hotel and Lodging Association (the Orlando Hotel Lobby). This is truly ludicrous. The American Hotel and Lodging Association, along with their local affiliates like the Orlando Hotel and Lodging Association, has been the leader in advocating for deceptive hotel resort fees. Just to see what would happen, I did write to the person the Mayor’s Office suggested I contact at the Orlando Hotel and Lodging Association. To no one’s surprise, that person never responded to my email. When I wrote back to the Orlando Mayor’s Office that I’d actually like to talk with someone to work together to end hotels scamming tourists in Orlando, no one at the Mayor’s Office ever replied to my email. I CCed multiple people in the office.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was endorsed by the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association PAC. In 2015, he took in over $8,000 dollars of political contributions from The Walt Disney Company. He has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from hotels in Orlando and beyond. He is in the interest of protecting his political contributors, not in protecting tourists from Kansas.
In other locations where predatory hotel resort fees have become ubiquitous, like Las Vegas, Nevada, politicians are similarly silent. Look at Nevada’s previous Attorney General Adam Laxalt (Republican), the current Attorney General Aaron Ford (Democrat) or Congresswoman Susie Lee (Democrat). No state has seen more of a total blanketing of hotel resort fees than Nevada. Below is a video of Democratic Congresswoman Susie Lee, who has accepted tens of thousands of donations from hotels and the hotel lobby, saying that “legislation is unlikely for resort fee controversy.”
LOL. Look to Susie Lee’s top contributors to see why she would say such a idiotic thing. She’s literally being bankrolled by the worst hotel resort fee offender in the books, MGM Resorts International. They charge deceptive fees at every hotel from Detroit, Michigan to Springfield, Massachusetts - even in areas where absolutely no one charges deceptive fees, MGM hides them in. And they apparently love giving money to Congresswoman Susie Lee!
MGM Resorts International gives more money to Democrat Susie Lee than any other member in the United States House of Representatives. The only politician they donate more money to is Nevada Senator Dean Heller. Given these donations, it should be no surprise that she makes ludicrous statements defending hotel resort fees.
Conservative political commenter Scott Simon summed it up well on Twitter.
It is time for states from Alaska to Georgia, Idaho to Maine to unite together and defend the rest of the country against a few hotel paid off politicians from states like New York, Hawaii, Florida and California. The free market requires knowing the price of the item. The average family from Kansas traveling to Walt Disney World deserves better. Girls from Idaho going to Vegas for a bachelorette should not have Susie Lee’s political coffers stop them from being able to know how much they’ll spend on a hotel in Las Vegas. It’s time that the rest of America rise up and fight against the deceptive, misleading scam of hotel resort fees.
Sources: Central Florida Hotel and Lodging https://www.cfhla.org/pac-pc-endorsements
Walt Disney Contributions https://ditm-twdc-us.storage.googleapis.com/2015-Contributions-Report.pdf