CLAUSE: Hotel hereby confirms a Group single/double sleeping room rate of $100. Current tax charged on sleeping rooms is 12 percent, including 8 percent sales tax and 4 percent occupancy tax. Neither Group nor its attendees will be responsible for paying any taxes or surcharges on guest sleeping rooms not enumerated in thisor otherwise disclosed to Group and its attendees unless required by law. Hotel will inform Group of any changes in tax rates or types that will affect Group or its attendees.
EFFECT: Many attendees — and sometimes meeting planners — are startled to discover how much a $100 per-night sleeping room actually costs with sales tax, occupancy or bed tax, and other fees. If attendees are paying for their own sleeping rooms, taxes that add an extra 5 percent to 25 percent can be an unpleasant surprise. If the group is paying for these sleeping rooms, these extras can add up — even if the group is only paying room and tax. In most areas in the United States, hotels are required by law to charge tax on sleeping rooms. The sample clause above simply requires that hotels disclose the exact amount of taxes and fees upfront. A tax-exempt group may be exempt from sales tax but not occupancy tax, so it is helpful to break out the different types of taxes.
Although the “energy surcharge” issue was resolved in favor of meeting groups, it would not be surprising to see new surcharges on rooms as hotels try to keep their sleeping room rates competitive. Adding a clause like this to a hotel contract requires the hotel to affirmatively disclose any surcharges that are a part of the total amount paid by hotel guests for sleeping rooms and relieves the group and its attendees from paying any surcharges that have not been disclosed by the hotel. Groups can then pass this information along to attendees and avoid any unpleasant surprises upon checkout or review of the master bill.
Some savvy planners even have the hotel complete a “Hotel Disclosure Checklist” at the time of contracting, requiring the hotel to disclose surcharges for local calls, long-distance calls, Internet access, newspaper delivery, and other services associated with guest rooms. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.
Tyra W. Hilliard, Esq., CMP (TyraH@gwu.edu) is a meetings industry attorney and Assistant Professor of Event and Meeting Management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.