Pay for the pool? Hotels try an à la carte business model

August 17, 2021, 4:11 PM UTC

After seeing the airline industry successfully monetize services that used to be free, one of the nation’s biggest hotel owners is hoping to adopt the practice for its guests.

MCR Hotels is rolling out an à la carte pricing model on everything from pool and gym use to early/late check-ins/checkouts to breakfast at select hotels. The TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the High Line Hotel in Manhattan are among the first to experiment with the surcharges.

They’re not insignificant. An early check-in runs $20, the Wall Street Journal reports, while a dip in the pool could cost as much as $25 per day.

MCR is the fourth-largest hotel owner in the country, but it’s currently the only one experimenting with the additional pricing model. Other chains say they’d be concerned about extensive customer pushback, something they’re trying to avoid as the hospitality industry attempts to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.

It’s not exactly new territory for the industry, though. Many hotels charge customers to use resources such as Wi-Fi. And some have cut back on daily housekeeping services, charging customers who want their room cleaned daily.

The model certainly has been a successful one for the airline industry. Charging customers for things like buy-on-board meals, onboard entertainment, checked baggage, and priority seats brought in an extra $109.5 billion worldwide for carriers in 2019, according to airline consulting firm IdeaWorks and technology platform CarTrawler. (As travel dried up last year, that figure dropped to $58.2 billion.)

The practice could win some travelers over, though. MCR says that by charging separately for amenities, it can offer lower room rates, which might attract travelers who wouldn’t plan on using features like the gym or pool anyway.

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