ASTA Backs Hotel Advertising Transparency Act of 2019

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The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has come out in support of the Hotel Advertising Transparency Act of 2019 (H.R. 4489), which aims to “prohibit unfair and deceptive advertising of rates for hotels rooms and other places of short-term lodging.”

The bill was introduced September 24, 2019 by Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska), who say, among other findings, “hotel rooms and other places of lodging are often advertised at a rate and later in the buying process, mandatory fees are disclosed that were not included in the advertised room rate.” These fees are most often listed as “resort fees,” “cleaning fees” or “facility fees.”

In a letter to Reps. Johnson and Fortenberry, ASTA executive vice president, advocacy Eben Peck says, “ASTA has long supported efforts to increase transparency in travel pricing, including the U.S. Department of Transportation’s full-fare advertising rule and Federal Trade Commission efforts to increase hotel pricing transparency... We believe hidden hotel resort fees violate this principle of transparency, and that public sentiment is with us (and with you) on this issue.”

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Peck adds that, according to ASTA’s annual “How America Travels” consumer research study, in 2017, 61 percent of consumers opposed altogether the practice of hotels adding mandatory resort fees atop advertised rates.

 “As such, we strongly support H.R. 4489, which would ensure that consumers are shown the full pre-tax price of a hotel room while searching and comparing lodging options for their next trip,” Peck says.

According to The Washington Post, there is no companion bill in the Senate yet but efforts are underway to get similar legislation filed. It adds that attorneys general from all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., are investigating resort fees. Hilton and Marriott International have already seen lawsuits accusing the companies of deceptive and misleading pricing practices.

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