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Saturday, Jul 20, 2024

When It All Adds Up to Too Much

That $98 hotel room you just booked in Oahu? It might be a too-good-to-be-true deal that will cost you $200 after all the extras are added up. Consider a visit to the Moana Surfrider hotel on Waikiki Beach. A traveler will pay a $31.41 “resort” fee in addition to the nightly room rate. For a five-night stay, that will increase the tab by $157. Joseph Fienberg thinks he has the answer to that sticker shock. The owner of Hawaii Connection, a Westlake Village online travel agency, he has created a system that tracks additional fees at hotels and condominiums in Hawaii. Those ancillary costs – such as cleaning fees and resort fees– are displayed on the company’s “Checkout Fee Calculator,” a chart that details prices at hotels in Hawaii. “It allows consumers to quickly see how much it’s going to cost (them) at checkout. We put it all in one easy-to-compare web page,” said Fienberg, 49. The calculator, which debuted this month, was developed after Fienberg received calls from travel agents wishing there was a way to compare the ancillary fees. He developed the calculator himself – in keeping with the company’s origins. Hawaii Connections was started by Joseph’s father, Steve, an engineer, in 1978 at the family’s Encino home. While planning a summer vacation with his children, the older Feinberg discovered there was no directory of rental condominiums in Hawaii. So he compiled a directory and published it. When a travel agent called and asked if the elder Feinberg could make a reservation, he quickly expanded to booking reservations. The agency was a wholesaler to retail travel agencies during its first 20 years in business. The son came aboard as a full-time employee in 1994 after completing his accounting degree at Michigan State University. He has focused on integrating computer and Internet technology into the business. Still, it’s not at all clear how much of a boost its fee calculator will be for its business, according to Douglas Quinby, vice president of research for PhoCusWright, a travel industry market research firm in Sherman, Conn. “When consumers are shopping for hotels in general, price is hugely important but also the star rating of the property and if it’s a branded property,” he said. “We haven’t seen resort fees or those types of additional fees become a major sticking point for travelers.” – Jacquelinne Mejia

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