I will ask anyone for an upgrade, whether it’s a better table at a restaurant or a first-class seat on a flight. Scoring a hotel upgrade, however, comes with its own set of difficulties. You can’t exactly assess what’s available or which rooms will open up during your stay.
NBC News recently asked concierge expert and author of Concierge Confidential, Michael Fazio, how guests can score better service at hotels, where amenities like extra terrycloth robes and room upgrades are up for grabs. Fazios, who stood behind the concierge desk at New York’s Intercontinental Hotel for seven years, explained why timing and politeness go a long way when dealing with hotel staff.
Stay on the right days
If you’re desperate for an upgrade, you might have better luck on weekends; according to Fazio, week days are generally the busiest time for hotels because of business travellers (so asking for an upgrade on a Friday might work to your advantage).
Checking in early is better than checking in late, too. When guests check in, there are probably more options for an upgrade at the start of the day than towards the end, when any possible room upgrades are more likely to be taken. As TravelZoo writes, most hotel cleaning hours are between 7am and 3pm. If your check in is at 3pm, it doesn’t hurt to arrive at or just before then, when your chances for scoring a better room are greater.
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Join loyalty programs
If you’re a frequent traveller, it helps to stay with the same hotel chain and join its loyalty program; you might end up getting a few room upgrades out of it. Make sure your reservation has your account attached and don’t be afraid to mention your status when checking in, as TravelZoo recommends.
On the flip side, booking with a brand new hotel also might get you an upgrade as they try to drum up future business and get positive reviews. I recently stayed at a new, boutique hotel in Honolulu and received an upgrade without even asking.
Book directly with the hotel
According to Fazio, you should book directly with a hotel whenever possible. Here’s his reasoning, as NBC News writes:
Hotels tend to look down on guests that book through discount travel sites. The inexpensive travel sites and aggregators like Expedia and Priceline and Orbitz have low rates, but the hotels sometimes don’t love seeing that you booked your reservation from the aggregators. It’s like you’re coming in with a scarlet letter attached to you that says ‘cheap rate.’
So the next time you’re considering a hotel, call them directly and ask to reserve a room. (Often times, they’ll be willing to match the rate on any third-party reservation site.) And upon check-in, see if they’ll be willing to accommodate a request for an upgrade.
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Mention you write reviews
As any restaurant waitstaff or hotel attendants might tell you, reviewers are a pain in the arse. But as Fazio said, gently letting staff know you’re a reviewer might be a boon in your quest to obtain an upgrade. You should not threaten them with a bad review. Instead, politely ask the hotel staff how to write a review when you check in, which is an obvious enough indication.
And as we’ve written before, if you really want an upgrade, just ask for it! “Sounds simple but just making sure they know you’d appreciate it (and know it’s a common practice) will increase your odds,” Dave of SantoriniDave, a hotel and travel review website, said in an email.
If your room isn’t what you expected — or just plain bad — that’s even more reason to ask. “If you feel you deserve an upgrade don’t be shy about asking to speak with the manager,” he added.
And be polite and courteous at all times. Good manners might be the most effective tool in scoring an upgrade.