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Caesars to start charging resort fees, says guests demanding them

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Showgirls from Jubilee! march up the Strip during a publicity stunt to draw attention to Caesars Entertainment’s policy of not charging resort fees Thursday, July 21, 2011.

Updated Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 | 5:20 p.m.

After years of marketing "no resort fees," Caesars Entertainment will start charging the fees at its Las Vegas hotels.

Caesars will begin adding fees ranging from $10-$25 on March 1, covering charges for amenities including Wi-Fi, local calls and fitness centers. Caesars operates nine hotels in Las Vegas, including Caesars Palace, Harrah's, Bally's, the Flamingo, the Quad, Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood on the Strip.

It's something guests asked for, said Gary Thompson, the company's director of corporate communications.

Until now, Caesars had charged separately for such amenities, instead of tacking on resort fees, which have upset some hotel customers in the past. Now, it seems, the company is hearing otherwise.

"This is in response to the increasing demand from our guests to provide a package price instead of the inconvenience of separate fees," Thompson said in a statement today. "We continue to do all we can to provide our guests with the best value, best products and best experiences in Las Vegas."

Most visitors to Las Vegas do not pick hotels based on whether they charge a resort fee, according to a recent survey conducted by the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV.

In a survey of more than 200 people on the Strip, 88 percent said they did not pick a hotel based on resort fees.

"They stayed where they wanted to stay, regardless of the resort fee," said Toni Repetti, an assistant professor at the hotel college.

But that doesn't mean hotel guest prefer the fees. Only 30 percent of those surveyed said they valued the amenities they were paying for through the fees. More than half said they'd rather pay what they used separately, as Caesars had been doing. Still, they pay them.

"They didn't value the items that came with the resort fee but it didn't change their decision on where to stay," Repetti said. "The attitude was we know we have to pay it, so we might as well suck it up."

The value of the resort fee comes in the bottom line of the hotels, where resort fees generate profits of 80 to 90 percent over the cost of the amenities provided, according to a report from NYU, where the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management tracks national trends.

The fees are in line with those charged elsewhere in Las Vegas, Thompson said. Hotels run by MGM Resorts International, Station Casinos, the Palms and Boyd Gaming all have charged resort fees for years. They range from $4.99 to $25, according to Vegas.com, an online hotel booking site and a sister website to VEGAS INC and the Sun.

Station Casinos began charging resort fees in 2004. MGM added them in 2008. The Caesars company, when it was going by its former name, Harrah's Entertainment, launched its "no resort fees" campaign in 2010, trying to cash in on visitors upset by the extra charges. Some guests said they were caught off guard by extra fees on top of their room rates.

The company started a "no resort fees" Facebook page, which drew tens of thousands of followers. In 2011, the company held rallies parading showgirls from the Jubilee show at Bally's down the Strip with signs reading "Just Say No to Resort Fees!" and "Our Money, Our Choice!" They wrapped casinos with ads about their lack of resort fees charged by other casinos. At the time, the company claimed it had saved Las Vegas visitors $37 million a year by not charging the fees.

But times change.

"Based on the current industry standards in the market and evaluation of the services our guests choose and use, a comprehensive package of bundled services and amenities proves to be the best and most meaningful value to our guests," Thompson said.

Most customers, when faced with the fees, would rather see them wrapped into the room rates, instead of broken out as a separate fee. In a separate, nationwide survey conducted by UNLV, 67 percent said they preferred higher room rates over being charged another fee.

"Las Vegas is one place they break it out, but it really is essentially raising the room rates," Repetti said. "In the nationwide survey there was more acceptance, because in other areas resort fees have been common for years. They just haven't been around for as long."

Resort fees have been rising, and more hotels adding them, across the U.S. during the past decade. After being introduced in 1997 as an "amenity tariff," such fees have increased in 10 of the past 13 years, according to the NYU report. The industry set a record for resort fees in $1.85 billion in 2011, and NYU predicts when last year is tallied, the lodging industry will eclipse that at about $1.95 billion.

Nearly three dozen hotels across the valley still do not charge resort fees, including most downtown hotels, the M Resort, the two Arizona Charlie's casinos, the Cannery casinos, Terrible's Hotel & Casino and the LVH.

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  1. Guests want resort fees? Some statements strain credulity and then some, like this one, break it. If you read the article, people are saying they want one price (not to be nickel and dimed with separate fees). That is a far cry from wanting a resort fee. Stupid reports like this make me question the wisdom of reading or trusting LV Sun news at all.

  2. A company $20 billion in debt claims the customer wants more fees!!

    Like the Hard Rock advertising that with their $20 fee, you get free use of their free valet parking or free self parking...

    Its pure profit that does not have to be shared with the booking engine or travel adviser.

  3. Lets not forget this is a company that helped elect the Messiah. An idiot who said we can spend our way out of debt...

  4. Guests want resort fees? Absolute hogwash.

  5. If you gamble (more than a Few Hundred bucks - Not Necessarily Loose) and pay for a Room in Vegas - You're a Fool. If you're coming and need a room, Never Ever approach the Hotel Bookings Sites Yourself.
    Look at Hotwire, Bid on Priceline, go to Book It, or Travelzoo, or Tripadvisor, then Kayak, Then airline travel Package Deals. And there are Plenty of Deals to be found. But better Yet Skip all the nonsense of Las Vegas, if you live on the East Coast there are plenty of Free Ocean Front Junkets to the Bahamas which will blow Las Vegas Deals Away. Unless You are Coming for The Clubs - Then Pay Up!

  6. What a lame excuse to justify gouging the traveling public. Any smart traveler knows to ask up front if there are any resort fees and how much before booking a room. Bundling resort fees into the hotel room rate is another gimmick by corporate America to pick your pocket without disclosing what specific resort fees apply. All under the guise of industry standard.

  7. If they raised their room rates to the equivolent of the resort fee for that hotel,it would have been a smarter play. Having been in the travel business, I can say first hand, people have chosen one hotel over the other because of the resort fee.

  8. Guests want resort fees? Bet me!

  9. I've paid $25-$45 to a hotel for overnight parking in downtown San Diego, depending on the night, and still had no free wi-fi, although they offered free wine in the lobby every night... But not everyone who visits a hotel needs overnight parking, nor wi-fi in their room, and both of those things cost money. Businesses need to decide what amenities are "expected" by most of their target market guests, and include those things in the basic rates they charge. Other items not "expected" by the majority of their market can then be offered for an extra fee, or not offered at all. Why this is even a story is questionable; if Caesars sent out a press release about this, that was poor strategy.

  10. I'm the first to call shenanigans on stories like this, but I gotta say that it's absolutely TRUE!

    For years I used to work up and down almost all of the strip hotels and dealt with guests directly in their rooms for their internet and TV services. And the biggest complaint was over the fact that Internet Access was a paid service.

    "What do you mean I have to pay $12/$13/$14 A DAY for WiFi?!? Even Holiday Inn gives it to their guests for free! Are you telling me that roadside motels have better amenities than a casino on The Strip?!?"

    And then when Stations and other resorts started bundling the WiFi in with the Amenity Fee and people realized this, it made them even madder. Guests would get angry and call the hotel greedy. You could remind them that it wasn't "free" at other hotels, but was paid for with those Amenity Fees. That would anger them even more, because then they'd complain about how whenever they DID pay an amenity fee elsewhere, they would at least get the complementary news paper and coffee maker in the room, as well as access to exercise rooms and pools.

    No Amenity Fees sounds good to a traveler until they actually get to their hotel room and realize that they have to pay for all of those additional services ala carte. Even if it's the tally is the same, if you break things down into multiple charges, people feel like they're being nickeled and dimed to death. Charge them a flat fee, and they only see a single charge and psychologically think that things are cheaper.

    A single $6 invoice to someone whose bad at math sounds better than five $1 invoices. And people who gamble are indeed very bad at math. It sounds outrageous I know, but it's the absolute truth about how people feel.

  11. Fitness centers are a joke on all of Caesars hotels, I rather they didn't charge me resort fees.

  12. Guests want resort fees like welfare clients want more taxes--so the other guy pays for what I use.

  13. Price gouging the tourists...

    does not leave a favorable impression on your guests.

    Corporate double-speak like, 'people DEMAND Resort Fees!' insults their intelligence to boot.

    When you peruse your bill for a $150 per-night stay at a decent hotel and find that the ACTUAL price (including taxes & resort fees) is closer to $250, you start to realize that what happens in Vegas is that one way or another, your MONEY stays in Vegas!

    Part of the lure of Las Vegas has been the notion (however illusionary) that you are getting a 'deal'...& that you have a chance at a 'free vacation' if you get lucky gambling. Many of the old operators took great pains to create and sustain that illusion...'free booze', a comped meal or 2, a stay at a fab property at budget/standard hotel rates; making the guests feel 'special'...then, if you lost money gambling you could rationalize that 'well, I had a great time and it didn't cost me a fortune'...

    These corporate clowns that run the big properties now have NO CLUE...
    switching from a marketing scheme that claims, 'NO RESORT FEES!' to 'YOU DEMANDED RESORT FEES; WE GOT EM!' is something that only a highly paid, highly compensated, totally out of touch with reality corporate clown could conceive.

    Las Vegas's big-shot ceo's have a knack for killing the geese that lay the golden eggs.

  14. only 53 comment. i would of expected alot more for the ridiculous reason of 'guest wanting a resort fee.'

    been visiting vegas for over 30yrs: used the pool/spa facilities ONCE & never used the internet. now lets just figure 6 nights a year @ $20 per night for 30yrs...thats $3600 (not counting the taxes)

    why must i pay for things i dont use???? i dont expect other visitors to pay for my rental car when im there. they arent using it but if i have to pay for their daily workouts at least they can chip in for gas.

    i have no problem with the 'club kids' who pay $400 for a $20 bottle of liqour BECAUSE IT DOESNT COST ME ANYTHING!!! the 'resort fee' does. i guess if im stuck at one of their properties that is $75-$100 less going to the restaurants/shows.

    i dont go to vegas to 'surf the net', exercise, make local calls or read the paper. thats what my home is for.

    anyone under 50 already has the internet on their cell phone. the only reason i use the phone in the room is to call for towels or the bell hop.

    if i was one of the head honchos at harrahs mr. gary thompson would be looking for a new job for saying something so stupid.

  15. I am not happy about this policy at all. The last time we were in Las Vegas I chose to stay at a Caesar's property on account they were the cheapest AND they didn't have resort fees. I always add in the cost of the resort fees when I make a reservation and this will certainly impact my decision on whether to stay at their properties. Hopefully they rethink this choice... I for one don't use the resort amenities like WIFI or the fitness clubs and resent being charged for it.

  16. What if I don't want to use the things the Resort Fee covers? I don't need to use their phone or internet, I carry a smart phone.
    Fitness Center? Would rather spend the time in the poker room.

  17. if 'guest demand it' why not offer guest the option to 'bundle' those amenities to meet their needs & not screw the rest of us.

    get a clue you buffoons.

  18. Thompson is a liar. Shameful. Huge mistake by Caesar's.