What Is a Hotel Tariff?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Hotels may be obligated to collect a bed tax.
Hotels may be obligated to collect a bed tax.

A hotel tariff is a full schedule of fees for the use of hotel amenities. It includes a disclosure of room rates along with other rate information which may be relevant to guests, including discussions of bed taxes and similar fees which may be collected by the hotel.

Hotels are sometimes required by law to make all of their tariff information available, so that guests can see the options which they can choose, and so that guests can challenge rates which may differ from those disclosed by the hotel. For example, a hotel can state that premium rooms are available at a set prices which is higher during peak season, and if a guest visits during the off season and is charged the peak rate, he or she can use the published hotel tariff to dispute the charge. In other cases, a hotel is not required to provide the information, but it does so as a courtesy to guests.

A hotel tariff may include use of the hotel pool.
A hotel tariff may include use of the hotel pool.

The top of the hotel tariff usually lists the prices for the rooms. In a small hotel, each room may be priced individually, while others may group rooms by type and have a generic price for all rooms of the same type. Below the rate disclosures, the hotel must mention any taxes and fees which it is obligated to collect, such as a Bed Tax or Value Added Tax (VAT). The tariff also discusses what is included in the disclosed rates, such as breakfast, bathrobes, use of the hotel pool, and so forth.

In addition to general information about room rates, a hotel tariff must include a breakdown of additional rates and fees which guests can incur while they stay in the hotel. These can include fees for meals not included in the flat rate, room service, phone calls, and so forth. The tariff may also discuss services offered by the hotel such as dry cleaning, the ability to make reservations on behalf of guests, a concierge doctor service, and so forth.

When researching hotels, it pays to look at the hotel tariff sheet very closely, as it can provide useful information. Especially for travelers who are unfamiliar with the norms at foreign hotels, for example, it may help to know that a tax will be collected at checkout, or that a hotel's rates do not include certain services which travelers may have grown to expect in their home nations. Researchers should also confirm that they are looking at the most recent tariff schedule available from the hotel, as rates can and do change.

How Is a Hotel Room Tariff Calculated?

When calculating a room tariff, there can be multiple factors to take into consideration. Hotels should offer their guests the ability to view what goes into their charges. This may be provided through a tariff card which gets displayed in each room or as a sign that the public can view behind the front desk.

Upfront Charging

Most mid-size hotels will bundle all of these costs into an upfront room charge. In this case, guests are charged for available meal plans or common amenities regardless of whether they take advantage of them. This approach can simplify bookkeeping for the hotel and make charges easier to comprehend for customers.

Alacarte Charging

Due to smaller volumes, small establishments may have the ability to break out amenities and charge them on an individual basis. Likewise, luxury hotels with an extensive list of available amenities are likely to allow guests to pick and choose which services they wish to partake in. Guests are charged a set room rate plus tariffs for shared amenities and taxes and are then offered a menu of items that they can add for an additional fee.

How Are Basic Room Charges Calculated?

Room charges are typically calculated based on the type of room rate being charged as well as check-in and check-out times. When a guest books a stay in a hotel, they are paying a specific room rate for a specified period.

Room Rates

All hotels have a basic rack rate for each type of room in an establishment. Single rooms will have a lower rack rate than a suite or penthouse. However, many establishments vary their rates based on the season or the individual guest leading to a wide array of possible rates:

  • Group rates for meetings or conventions
  • Day rates for guests not staying 24 hours
  • Package rates negotiated with other entities to offer a bundle of services to guests
  • Discounted rates for stays booked during the hotel's off-season

Check-in and Check-out Times

Hotels can choose from a variety of methods to determine a guest's daily rental:

  • 12:00 Noon - This is one of the most common methods used by hotels. A guest has access to their room from noon on the day their stay begins to noon on the day they leave. This method offers the simplest calculations for the hotel and gives the clearest parameters for guests.
  • 24 Hours - With this method, a guest's stay is calculated as a 24-hour period from the time they check in. This method offers the most flexibility for guests and ensures that they are never asked to pay for unused time.
  • Nightly - A guest is charged based on an overnight stay. In this instance, a guest checking into a room in the evening and leaving early the next day will still incur the full charge for the room. This method offers the possibility of additional revenue for a hotel because a room can be rented out more frequently than once every 24 hours.

What Are the Different Types of Tariff In a Hotel?

Four tariff components are common to the majority of hotels:

  • Room Rates
  • Meal Plans
  • Luxury amenities
  • Taxes and Fees

Meal Plans

An additional tariff that is common in most hotels whether large or small is a meal plan. There are several types of meal plans that may be offered to guests and some hotels may offer more than one:

  • European plan - No meals are included
  • American plan - Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Modified American plan - Includes two meals, typically breakfast and either lunch or dinner.
  • Continental plan - Includes a light breakfast. Usually, the meal is served as a buffet and includes fruit, toast and a beverage such as coffee or juice. Other items that may be included are bagels and cream cheese or yogurt.
  • Bermuda plan - Includes a hearty breakfast that includes proteins such as eggs, bacon and sausage. Depending on the hotel, this meal may be offered as a buffet or it may include table service.

Hotels in large cities tend to offer a European plan or a Continental breakfast as guests have a wide array of choices when it comes to meals and may prefer the variety provided by local establishments.

Hotels in more rural settings such as resorts and small elite establishments gravitate toward more robust options including either the American plan or the modified American plan. These establishments receive a healthy portion of their income from their meal plans and sometimes make their restaurants available to customers who are not staying in the hotel.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HistoricalIndex researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HistoricalIndex researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Bakersdozen

@Acracadabra - You are so right to mention checking the tariff carefully when comparing hotels.

I just made reservations online for our trip to Europe. I thought I'd lucked out with a cheap hotel in England, only to discover too late that the prices on the tariff were per person, per night.

Being used to paying for a room I just didn't think it could be different.

Acracadabra

You'll find this term used in most hotels in India too. It can be quite confusing when you are trying to work out the cost in a totally unfamilar currency which counts in the thousands! Add to this the variety of informational styles used and it can become hard to budget.

If you are booking online I would recommend checking several sites for research purposes. Otherwise you may not spot key things, such as the 'luxury tax' which is commonly applied to tourists in India.

This may not be included in the published tariff, but if you see it elsewhere you will be able to double check.

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    • Hotels may be obligated to collect a bed tax.
      By: robert lerich
      Hotels may be obligated to collect a bed tax.
    • A hotel tariff may include use of the hotel pool.
      By: anyaberkut
      A hotel tariff may include use of the hotel pool.