Now that’s a nice way to say good-bye

The Vogue in downtown Dubai doesn’t seem like the kind of hotel where guests would be surprised by anything. The furnishings are spare and modern, and the amenities are about what you’d expect from a boutique hotel.

But when Luke Fitzgerald tried to check out of The Vogue early, a smiling concierge greeted him, offering him a Mango Lassi, an Indian yogurt drink.

“I was handed a receipt,” recalls Fitzgerald, an American search engine specialist who lives in Ireland. “But what surprised me the most was a no strings attached free night at the hotel on my next visit.”

Hotels are using the checkout process as more than an opportunity to say “goodbye” and sign your folio. It’s a final shot at making a positive impression and inviting you back. Even though experts predict 2016 will be another record year for the lodging industry, some hotels will be more profitable than others. It’s farewells like The Vogue’s that could make the difference between a successful year and a so-so one.

The checkout process has become almost completely automated, experts say.

“A bill is placed under your door the night before and, if there are no disputes, you’re automatically checked out and the credit card that was provided at check-in is automatically billed,” says Margo Gorra-Stockman, a senior principal at Accenture Travel. Or there’s no paper needed, as “mobile check out through an iPhone or iPad offers an eFolio of your charges.”

But hotels are rethinking that impersonal bye-bye.

• At the Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa in Lake Placid, N.Y., guests receive house-made and “notoriously delicious” chocolate chip cookies for the drive home. Mmmm.

• On your way out of the Napa River Inn in Napa, Calif., don’t be surprised if the receptionist offers you a discounted return guest rate — and a bottle of wine.

• At Paradise Beach Resort on the Caribbean island of Nevis, guests receive a pair of Havaianas flip-flops customized to their foot size. At check-out — surprise! — they’re yours to keep.

Hotels are rethinking “check out” in other ways, too. For example, at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, guests check out the evening before the last day in their suite “to allow for a stress-free departure,” says Carlo Bicaci, the hotel’s general manager.

“Guests appreciate the personal touch and respect of their privacy, especially when settling a bill,” he adds.

Connect all the dots and it almost looks as if some hotels are quietly eliminating those negative checkout surprises. Those include unwanted mandatory “resort” fees or surprise charges from the minibar (“I didn’t know that bottle of water cost $10!”) or a “misunderstanding” about the room rate.

Hotels collected an estimated $2.47 billion in fees and surcharges last year, according to an estimate by NYU professor Bjorn Hanson. Many of these extras, such as charges for receiving overnight packages, automatic gratuities, fees for unattended parking and baggage holding charges, are traditionally tacked on at the end as an unwelcome check-out charge.

Instead, what if checking out was easy, private, seamless and the only surprises were good ones — like the mango cocktail or the custom slippers? Hotels appear to be rethinking the way they bid you farewell. Instead of one last chance to stick you with a higher bill, they’re seeing it as an opportunity to invite you back.

If they keep it up, we might just say “yes.”

What to look for when you check out

You can eliminate the negative surprises on your next hotel bill by doing the following:

• Mind the tent. The “tent” cards in your room, often ignored by guests, contain important information about surprise charges. Experienced guests read them even when they look like they’ve seen them before. You never know how much that in-room call will cost.

• Tell them before they tell you. If you’ve helped yourself to items from the minibar or opened that $10 bottled water, let your hotel know and settle the bill before you leave. It’s better than waiting and receiving a possible late charge on your credit card.

• Read your bill carefully. Some hotels still stick it to their guests at the last minute by sliding a bill under their door that’s littered with industry acronyms. If you don’t understand something, ask. If it doesn’t make sense, ask for it to be removed.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at,,, and

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend