TIPS

How to snag a hotel upgrade

July 17, 2013
View of Central Park from The Pierre Hotel New York City

View of Central Park from The Pierre Hotel New York City

Want to snag a hotel upgrade? Don’t be too shy to ask for a room with a view—even if it’s not your birthday.

When you check into a hotel and hear the melodic words, “We’ve upgraded your room,” it’s natural to feel like you’ve struck pay dirt. Being assigned to a room with an ocean view or to an exceptionally spacious suite is a perk that can make any trip even more enjoyable. Here’s some advice from industry experts and veteran travelers on how to enhance the odds of snagging a coveted hotel room upgrade:

1. Watch for Promotions

You may be able to score a guaranteed upgrade prior to your arrival. Before you firm up your plans, shop around for travel deals online that advertise promotional upgrades. Hotels often try to lure guests with attractive room upgrades when business is slow and during off-seasons, in particular.

2. Book Directly

Instead of using an 800-number, contacting the hotel directly increases your chances, says Marie Lotode Chandra of ViaHerWorld.com. “Hotels need to pay a commission to large clearinghouses like Orbitz, Expedia, and Hotels.com. If the hotel is going to receive 100% of your room rate, you’ll be considered a prime candidate f or an upgrade,” she says.

3. Use a Travel Agent

“Many travel agents have established relationships with various hotels and resorts through consortiums, such as Virtuoso and Signature,” says Joseph Sobin, a travel agent with Concierge Services and Consulting. Because of this leverage, agents can be very effective in negotiating upgrades on behalf of their clients.

4. Fan Your Favorites

“Follow the hotels you’re planning to visit on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for their newsletters, too,” says John DiScala (aka Johnny Jet) who travels to more than 20 different countries each year. “Many hotels and resorts offer special deals for their friends and followers on social media,” he says.

5. Just Ask

The most straightforward approach is often the simplest: When you check in at the front desk, routinely ask for an upgrade. There’s a distinction between asking, wishing and demanding. Don’t be shy because when you ask nicely, the worst thing that can happen is you’ll be turned down. “It’s kind of like asking out a girl,” says Dan Nainan, a professional comedian who plays gigs around the globe. “You never know unless you ask.”

Nainan points out that working behind any front desk can be boring and repetitive — so being friendly and engaging at check-in can go a long way (Be sure not to be too long-winded if a line is waiting to check in behind you).

If it’s a birthday, anniversary, or another special occasion, be sure to let the front desk person know how meaningful an upgrade would be to you.

6. Beg (If You Have To)

If you can’t kill them with kindness, a good sob story may help, says Gabriella Ribeiro Truman of the travel website theExplorateur. “If you’ve been delayed, tell someone. If you’ve had a horrendous journey in, say it. A sympathetic ear behind the front desk can easily translate into a better stay,” she says.

7. Trade on Your Loyalty

Hotels want to do their best to accommodate guests and make them happy — especially those who are congenial and/or loyal. So if you’ve been there before let them know and if your travels allow you to stick to one brand or chain, join its customer loyalty program, such as Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, or the Fairmont President’s Club to accrue points that can be converted to upgrades. American Express Platinum Card members are entitled to a free hotel upgrade upon checking in at any one of the more than 700 properties within the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program.

8. Befriend the Bellman

If you aren’t able to score an upgrade at the front desk and you’re disappointed after the bellman shows you to your room, ask if the hotel is full. The bellman may offer to call a colleague at the front desk and show you a better one in anticipation of your “appreciation,” says DiScala.

9. Don’t Take It Personally

If you don’t succeed snagging an upgrade this time, be confident that you’ll have better luck next time around. The hotel may be overbooked in which case the front desk has no degrees of freedom. “In the end it may just depend on which side of the bed the clerk woke up on,” says Michael Matthews of Tucson, Arizona, a retired general manager of many 5-star hotels.

Have you ever snagged a hotel upgrade? If so, how did you do it?

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    July 18, 2013 at 7:51 am

    This list is great – requires a print-out! Don’t know if I could actually beg, but maybe a modified version of begging could work? 🙂

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