Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Are hidden fees costing your members?

A Wall Street Journal story (7/23/16) about hidden fees inflating home prices got me to thinking about the hidden fees in the cost members pay to participate in your event.

In many cases, cities and other government entities create these “add-on” fees/taxes to pay for “desired extras” (such as a new stadium) with the governmental body telling its citizens that “this won’t cost you anything; we’ll just charge our visitors.”

Here’s what your members are paying when they come to your convention:


  • If you have flown recently, you know the hidden fees (fuel surcharges, TSA fees, etc) and “extra” fees (baggage fees, food, etc.) that scale up your costs. 
Rental cars
  • Four “add-on fees” showing on a May 2016 rental car receipt totaled $58.71 which was 24.8% of the total bill. They included a “concession charge,” a “garage recoupment fee,” a “rental car facility charge” and a “vehicle license fee.” 
  • My St. Louis hotel bill this weekend included a 3.5% “hotel/motel” tax and a 3.75% “convention tax” ... making the fees a little over 7% of the room charge.
Perhaps associations should “steal the idea” from governmental agencies. Just think of it, you could add a “processing fee” to your member dues; or a “concession charge” to the conference registration fee.

Well, maybe not as our members may see that you are just trying to grab more money without raising your dues or registration fees!

PS.  If you don’t read the WSJ article, here are some of the added home fees they cited:
  • $3,500 for customized architectural plans for each lot
  • $8,000 for new type of storm water capture devise
  • Impact fees average $21,000 per home
  • $1,500 to $2,000 per unit in park fees


  • I forgot to mention one of the "worst" hidden fees at many convention properties:  the daily"resort fee."  
  • In just received my bill from the O'Hare Hilton's stay last night.  It had three "fees:" a state occupancy tax (11.9%); a city occupancy tax (4.5%); and a county occupancy tax (1%).  Total fees equaled 17.4%.

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