Staying at a hotel should make guests feel that they’re well taken care of. But it’s more likely these days that travelers may feel nickel-and-dimed instead of pampered. That’s because hotel fees are on the rise.

While fees and surcharges are not new, many hotels are finding more ways to charge fees to boost profits.

New York University professor Bjorn Hanson says the hotel industry will charge consumers a record $2.55 billion in extra hotel fees in 2016—an increase of 4.1 percent from 2015, hitting up guests for everything from common fees, such as for room service, to more unexpected fees, such as paying for the use of an in-room safe or for baggage holding.

Such fees are more likely at full-service high-end hotel chains, such as Hilton, Sheraton, or Weston, rather than at lower-cost chains, such as Days Inn.

While the charges might come as an unwelcome surprise, Hanson says that most hotels disclose the fees before a guest checks in. The problem, though, is that the fee disclosures are not always easy for customers to see.

“If there’s an email confirmation for a reservation, mandatory fees and charges are disclosed in the email, but not everyone opens up the emails,” Hanson notes. Fees may also be disclosed on a hotel’s website, but even if the information is there, it can be buried in the fine print.

Consumers are pushing back against the charges, notes Doug Carrillo, vice president of sales and marketing for Virgin Hotels, which opened its first hotel, located in Chicago, with a “no extra fees” policy. He says his company’s consumer research found that extra hotel fees are a sore point for customers.

Because a hotel’s general manager is responsible for its fee policies, the types and amounts of charges can vary from property to property, even within the same hotel chain, Hanson says. That can make it particularly difficult for customers to know what to expect.

Ask About the Fees

Before booking a hotel room, Hanson recommends that travelers take a few steps to ensure that they are aware of which hotel fees they might encounter.

Ask about mandatory hotel fees. If you book a hotel room on the phone, ask the reservations agent which mandatory fees are charged at the property, and write down their responses. Before hanging up, ask for the agent’s ID number or name. If your bill includes a fee that wasn’t disclosed on that phone call, show the hotel front-desk employee your record and ask for the charge to be removed.

If a hotel says it offers free Wi-Fi, ask about the speed and whether it charges for faster internet access, Virgin Hotel’s Carrillo recommends. He says he recently stayed at a hotel that told him its WiFi was free. When he checked in, he learned that he needed to pay either $6.99 or $12.99 for speeds adequate enough for his purposes.

Send an email. Many travelers prefer to book online, where it might be harder to find out about fees. In this case, Hanson recommends taking the extra step of sending a separate email to ask the hotel management if there are any mandatory fees or charges. Keep a copy of the response in case there’s a dispute at checkout.

Educate yourself about the fees you may encounter. Some newer types of fees include unattended-parking fees, which is when hotels charge for parking in an unattended lot, and early check-in fees, which can amount to half the price of a hotel room. Knowing what you might encounter can help you avoid extra costs. Among the fees to look for are:

  • a resort fee (an all-inclusive fee charged by resorts)
  • a reservation cancellation fee
  • internet charges
  • telephone call surcharges
  • fees for receiving or sending faxes or receiving packages
  • automatic gratuities
  • baggage holding fees
  • fees for in-room safes
  • restocking the mini-bar.

Be prepared to hear “no.” “It's quite difficult to remove fees from the bill unless there is something unfair that has been charged,” says Hanson. He says that employees are given scripts they can use to respond to requests to remove fees.