A booking fee relates to the common practice of charging extra money when you’re booking a vacation, buying tickets for a concert or show, or even buying an airline ticket. Not all hotels charge a booking fee, particularly if you book online, but many cruise ships do, and numerous travel agencies, including many online ones, may add a booking fee when you buy tickets, vacation packages or reserve hotel rooms. Most ticketing agencies charge booking fees for obtaining tickets to events, plays and concerts, which can usually only be avoided by buying tickets at the door of such an event. Yet, you usually can’t get same day tickets if an event is popular, so people are willing to pay the extra fees.
Some booking fees aren’t terribly expensive. You might spend $10-20 US Dollars (USD) to pay a booking fee on a flight. Other companies charge booking fees that represent a percentage of the total cost. However in recent years, people in the UK have been shocked to find that such fees for buying tickets to a show can be as high as 25% of the total cost, and many have called for greater disclosure about such fees. Additionally, online travel agencies that advertise lower prices if you book with them may not be such good deals if an extra fee is charged. Often it’s less expensive to make reservations directly with the hotel if they don’t charge these fees.
Most companies will tell you upfront if they charge a booking fee, and it should be recognized that many companies like travel and ticketing agencies make most of their money through these fees. There are questions as to whether price gouging occurs and whether these fees are too high. Several business magazines and news reports suggest these fees are on the rise. On the other hand, it’s hard to begrudge a travel agency for charging a small booking fee if they’ve spent several hours helping you arrange a vacation.
Yet when a ticket for a show costs about $100 USD, and it takes you three or four minutes to buy one, charging a $25 USD booking fee does seem somewhat high. Similarly, being charged to book flights or hotel rooms through the airline or hotel chain you’re going to be using is hard to justify. You’re already paying the hotel or airline to use their services, and many people argue that buying a ticket or reserving a room shouldn’t cost you extra money. Some companies like JetBlue® will only charge a booking fee if you talk to someone on the phone to book your flight. If you order from the Internet there isn’t an extra charge.
To save a little money when you travel or purchase tickets, look for agencies or companies that offer low or no booking fees, and compare costs between agencies that propose they’ll save you money and the costs of calling up hotels and making your own reservations. You might also save money on travel expenses if you have membership in travel companies like AAA® (American Automobile Association), although such companies do charge for membership. Additionally, you should be sure to ask about any fees upfront. If a company won’t give you complete disclosure on what they charge, find another company that will, and that offers either low booking fees or waives these fees.
When purchasing concert tickets, you’re pretty much stuck with whatever fees a ticketing agency wants to charge. Often ticketing agencies have exclusive rights to sell tickets for certain events. Usually your only options are paying the extra charges, forgoing the event, or hoping you can win tickets from a contest on a local TV or radio show so you can attend the event for free.