Picture it. Sicily. 1912. (I’m kidding). But seriously, picture it. You’re traveling. You’ve driven to the airport; you’ve waited in line and been through security; your ears have popped; your luggage made it around the carousel (thank God); you’ve paid for your cab and you’ve arrived at the hotel. You walk in, the front desk agent greets you warmly, flashes you a wry smile and while handing you the keys to your room half-whispers “you’ve been upgraded to a suite for your stay.” Jubilation! Success! Of all the hotel rooms, in all the towns, in all the world, you had to walk into this one. Perfection. Free Room Upgrade achieved!
But why you? Why now? How did this happen? And most importantly, how can you make it happen again?
You might come back to this same exact hotel expecting a suite and the red carpet only to be given keys to (gasp) the room you reserved. Don’t be disappointed. And whatever you do, don’t call the front desk with an attitude. Here are three ground rules for how to get complimentary upgrades on your travels!
- Be nice.
At the end of the day, your front desk agent decides whether or not you get the Honeymoon Suite, or the room next to the elevator. So be nice. Front desk agents deal with all kinds of people, with all kinds of crazy requests. At the end of the day, they are the “brain” of the hotel. They make sure people get what they need, when they need it and with a smile. So don’t condescend. Don’t throw your ID and Credit Card “at” them when you check in. And whatever you do, DO NOT raise your voice if you don’t get your way. That’s just rude. And at that point, you’re pretty much asking for Karma to come and kick you in the butt. The moral of the story is, if you are asking for a free room upgrade, the best way to get it is to ask nicely.
- Travel a lot.
The best way to get a free room upgrade is to be a frequent traveler with a particular hotel brand. With Marriott Rewards, for example, Platinum and Gold Elite members are required to be given room upgrades if there is availability. The operative term being “if there is availability” – before you get upset about this, please refer back to Rule #. The front desk wants you to be happy. Especially if you’re a Preferred Lifetime Unobtanium Member. But if we have 30 Preferred Lifetime Unobtanium Members staying in the hotel, and we only have 8 suites, that means that we are going to be dealing with 22 very unhappy people. So please don’t be one of them. Odds are, that the guy who stays 299 nights in my hotel each year is going to be one of the 8 upgrades. And although we appreciate your 10 nights of business per calendar year, we really are not going to bump Mr. 299 for you. Sorry.
- Tell us if you are celebrating something special.
Don’t make us feel like your inattentive ex-boyfriend. Tell us if it’s your anniversary. We aren’t mind readers. We don’t stalk your Instagram. If it’s your birthday weekend, tell the front desk agent checking you in! If you are e-mailing ahead of time to request a crib in your room, tell the reservations specialist that you’re coming for a family reunion. Hospitality workers exist to make you happy – so stop making it so hard. We want a reason to prioritize your free room upgrade so give it to us! Hey, even if you don’t get an upgrade (see Rule #2) you might get a bottle of champagne!
Do you have any other tips for scoring complimentary upgrades at hotels? Let us know!
And for a chance to win a free room upgrade at a Howard Hospitality managed property, e-mail email@example.com and tell us what TV Show we were referring to at the beginning of the Blog Post. First person who gets it right wins!