Hotel ‘fee’ added to rooms for marketing
Money to be used to get conventions
At least some of Hamilton’s hotels are moving ahead with a plan to charge three per cent extra on room bills to help fund a regional marketing effort.
Destination marketing program fees are already charged by most of the city’s nearby competitor communities, including Toronto, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.
Ontario provides fee guidelines for industry groups that specify the extra cash must not be characterized as a tax. The fee can be included in the total room price advertised or separately added and explained to customers.
The destination marketing cash, to be administered by an industry association, is meant to help lure more conventions and events to the city, which in turn is expected to help fill hotel rooms.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Vrancor Group regional marketing director Karen McQuade, who noted competition among cities for hotel-packing events is growing. “We’re looking forward to being able to welcome more groups to the city.”
Vrancor co-chair P.J. Mercanti said last year the hotel industry loses out on up to $20 million annually in revenues based on the number of vacant rooms.
He said the fee would provide hundreds of thousands of dollars for tourism marketing if most local hotels signed on to the voluntary program. It’s not yet clear how many hotels will participate.
The idea has its detractors. Coun. Matthew Green called the fee a “pseudo tax” on customers.
Falls hotels have received criticism about the transparency of a similar program, including how it is described and if it can be removed by customer request.