Know your hotel rights when staying somewhere. Learn tips and tricks to make your trip easier and stress-free.
It’s imperative to know your hotel rights when traveling. The federal government has an almost complete laissez faire approach to the lodging business. State and local governments are marginally involved, but only to the extent of making sure that a hotel restaurant is up to health standards, stipulating the maximum room rate, or imposing taxes. Some states also have laws stipulating what services or provisions an “innkeeper” must provide, such as a safe deposit box. However, that doesn’t mean that the final arbiter of a dispute between a traveler and their hotel is the innkeeper or general manager. Know your hotel rights.
Remember the way an airline complaint is funneled into a centralized consumer affairs department, which is most often the last and only word on a grievance? When it comes to lodging, there are multiple layers of accountability – and many opportunities for an appeal. A general manager often answers to a vice president in charge of the hotel chain, or to a regional manager. Those, in turn, are accountable to shareholders or investors.
Finally, there are state and local accountability mechanisms, from small-claims courts to better business bureaus, that will help articulate travelers’ hotel rights (and sometimes define hotel rights that many never knew they had). As we’ll show in this chapter, travelers have a final metaphorical ace up their sleeve – a loosely-worded statement of understanding between the hotel and customer that can be leveraged against a property that is denying a traveler his or her hotel rights.
As we examine travelers hotel rights as a guest, we’ll take a look at these areas:
- Hotel ratings – Can travelers trust them? What do they mean? And what are their hotel rights if a property doesn’t live up to its rating?
- Reserving rooms — What’s the difference between single and double occupancy? What if one is bringing children or pets on the trip? We’ll also take a look at the different room rate categories.
- Mandatory hotel fees — Many hotels these days add mandatory fees to their published room rates. Though consumer advocates have been attempting to get the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to declare the practice of adding mandatory fees to room rates misleading and deceptive, the FTC has sought to have simple disclosure of these fees acceptable. All consumers should examine the full cost of accommodation before using a credit card to pay or make a reservation. If there is a hidden mandatory fee, go somewhere else if possible.