Destination Marketing Fee – Opt-out even after hotel check out

by Anshul
14 comments

Points Miles and Bling (blog) contains referral or affiliate links. The blog receives a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your continued support. Credit Card issuers are not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details, current product information, and Terms and Conditions, click the link included.

This past summer, I wrote about the Destination Marketing Fee (DMF) and referred to it as a cash grab. Personally, I do not like paying the fee due to lack of transparency on its use and application.

Destination Marketing Fee – Quick Primer

*Borrowing some text from my previous writeup on this subject *:

DMF is a fee levied by hotels in some cities, who contribute to a collective fund  used for promotion, marketing and “other tourism development initiatives”. Hotels can charge you up to 3% on room rates, as DMF.

It comes in other forms as well, like DMP (Destination Marketing Program), DMDF (Destination Marketing and Development Fee), PF (Promotion Fee), TIFF (Tourism Infrastructure Funding Fee). They essentially all mean the same.

Getting it removed from your hotel bill

Most tourists and guests simply assume it to be a mandatory “tax” and don’t question it. However, that is far from the truth. Hotels add this as an item on the bill without asking the guests to volunteer and thats what makes this fee both pesky and dubious.

When asked to remove the fee, most hotels do it without hesitation while some will hum and haw their way until you ask for a manager that can authorize it to be removed.

During a recent check-out, after completing a stay at Andaz Ottawa (Presidential Suite review here), I was distracted with other details on the bill and completely forgot about the DMF charged.

Destination Marketing Fee

I caught it the next day while reviewing the final bill.  Called the hotel and requested for the fee to be removed, the staff was nonchalant about my request and happy to oblige. Five minutes later, I received an updated bill with the charged reversed and credited back to my card. Simple.

Destination Marketing Fee

This fee is not monitored by the government, it is collected by the industry provincially. The Ontario ministry of tourism culture and sport has a handy explanation of consumer rights pertaining the fee, details here.  The statement for consumers reads “Consumer protection is a priority for this government.  Businesses collecting fees are responsible for ensuring that fees are not misrepresented as taxes.  Businesses may include fees in the price or make the amount to be charged known in advance to the prospective visitor and accurately describe its purpose. …”

Take away

While this instance may have worked in my favour, I am cognizant that not all hotel properties would be as willing to remove the charge retroactively. Let alone the day after a completed stay. While the best practice is to ask for the charge to be removed before settling the final bill, it can also be done after. $7.89 may not seem like a lot but these charges can add up, especially when staying multiple nights at the property.

Have you come across DMF fee during you recent stays? What has been your experience? Please leave a comment below. 

14 comments

Diana May 9, 2022 - 3:56 pm

It allows you to add content to multiple social networks, and you can change hashtags on different platforms for each one. Promo republic (better try it) also recycles evergreen content and allows you to set it to expire so that it stays fresh for your audience. Moreover, Promo republic has a calendar function and can automatically post to multiple social networks at the same time.

Reply
Des Brady March 3, 2019 - 7:46 am

The Glen House Resort in Gananogue Ontario has a 3% DMF associated with the cost of a room .I suggest reading all communications thoroughly prior to completing your reservation or checking out. They will remove it but reluctantly. We have a large group that yas gone there the past eleven years, I am not certain how long this has been charged but it was removed last year and this year but I have been told it is mandatory next year should we return . The Resort is excellent and the Smugglers Glen Golf Course is scenic and is a great layout for all skill levels.

Reply
Points Miles and Bling March 3, 2019 - 9:04 am

Thanks for sharing, much appreciated. I can confirm that this is not mandatory and properties cannot force it on you, although they try. You can always refer them to the Ontario legislation – http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/invest/destination_marketing.shtml

Reply
Destination Marketing Fee, Land No Country Wants, The Woman Who Fought Apple - Rapid Travel Chai June 22, 2017 - 6:34 pm

[…] Destination marketing fee – opt-out even after hotel check out. […]

Reply
matthewsf December 15, 2016 - 12:42 pm

The KEY and most confusing part of this as I found out through your post/CBC piece is knowing whether or not there is government involvement or not which allows one to ask for it to be taken off…e.g. the difference between British Columbia and Ontario. I had no idea of this, so on a subsequent stay at a Toronto Airport Hotel, I didn’t rightfully ask to have it removed.

Reply
matthewsf December 12, 2016 - 10:40 pm

I first came across this when booking and staying at a couple of Hilton hotels in Toronto (airport and downtown). The issue though as it relates to getting it taken off/not paying is that the fee is indeed displayed/disclosed when making a reservation by viewing the breakdown of taxes/fees. So as a customer, we agree to pay for it and any other fees (e.g. resort) when securing the reservation and staying at the property. The fact that it’s technically not a tax by the government is moot. I made one of my reservations BEFORE the fee was implemented. When I saw it on my bill, I complained and showed that it was not a part of my initial reservation. The line item was removed. Had I made the reservation after they began doing it, then I wouldn’t have had the same result.

I have a friend who is a hotel owner at a local hotel near the airport. He too belongs/participates in a similar program and when I brought it up, he explained to me that it (like resort fees) is another line item charge that is passed along. As a marketing/pr professional (and frequent hotel guest) I told him I thought the whole idea was B.S.; why should I, the customer, pay for your marketing initiatives. His response is that because they (the hotel owners) can and that we as consumers can stay elsewhere. The problem is though when all hotels in a particular area do this, so there is no alternative for the consumer to go.

It’s good that you are bringing this more attention, and would be curious to hear the experience from others.

Reply
Bling December 14, 2016 - 11:32 am

Thanks for the great insight matthew! Your exchange with the hotel owner is pure gold. I could be wrong, but have never noticed DMF mentioned under tax+fees before booking, will keep a closer eye. That being said, I have been opting out of this fee for 3-4 years now. Last year a friend paid ~$100 just in DMF for a 2 week stay in Niagara region, that’s when I started writing about it. Kicker: DMF is also applied by restaurants and tourist sites in some regions of Ontario!!!

Reply
Weppy April 3, 2017 - 9:08 am

We were just told at the Embassy Suites in Niagara that it’s mandatory now. How can I find out if that’s true?

Reply
Bling April 3, 2017 - 2:28 pm

Here is the link to the Ontario Ministry of tourism (http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/invest/destination_marketing.shtml ) and it still does not state that the fees are mandatory. So I would challenge the hotel on that and refer them to the ministry website or ask for proper documentation identifying that the fee is mandatory. Niagara region is notorious for forcing customers to pay this fee.

Reply
matthewsf April 3, 2017 - 6:32 pm

If they dont accept that and charge you anyway, just pay the bill and dispute the charge with your credit card company…you will have the proof. And then off course leave a negative/unsatisfactory review on tripadvisor. 🙂

Weppy April 3, 2017 - 6:49 pm

Sounds like a plan! Thank you 🙂

Weppy April 3, 2017 - 6:49 pm

Thank you so much! I’ll call them up tomorrow.

Sharon Maharaj January 4, 2018 - 6:57 am

This just happened to me too! I spoke to 3 people including a manager and they said as of April 2016 it’s agreed to when you book online, however we always had it off in the past…they refused to take it off.

Reply
Anshul January 4, 2018 - 5:48 pm

Hi Sharon, seems that that one property is speading the fake news. I would suggest you email corporate office and dispute rhe charges. Use the Ontario ministry link I provided as proof. You can also refute the charges with your credit card company..
Robbery. Plain and simple.

Leave a Comment

You may also like