by Amita Patel, Area Director of Sales and Marketing, Kahler Hospitality Group
I travel a great deal and I am always looking for ways to elevate my travel experience, so when I come across an opportunity to upgrade, I will immediately take advantage, even if there is a small cost involved.
So how does one go about securing a guestroom upgrade? Simple - Check out the tips below and reap the rewards!
Tip 2 – Hotel Loyalty Program: Hotel brands such as Marriott, Starwood and Hilton have fabulous loyalty programs that provide wonderful rewards. It is in the hotel’s best interest to keep their frequent guests satisfied and loyal to the brand. Request an upgrade and chances are that you will be placed into a higher room category. For example with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, you can upgrade your room for as little as 1,000 points. Another tip: Have your account number readily available for the front desk staff making it is easy for them. Efficiency will often result in a well-deserved upgrade.
Tip 3 – Be Polite and Engaging: There are days when I am simply feeling bold and will ask at check-in if I can receive an upgrade. When I use this approach, I always make sure to maintain eye contact with the Front Desk Agent and engage them in casual conversation such as sports or weather. Keep it light and polite! The Front Desk Agents are the key providers of upgrades and are often well versed in which rooms are best for elevating ones experience.
Tip 4 – Book Through a Site that Monitors Price Dips: Websites such as Tingo.com; DreamCheaper.com and Triprebel.com will monitor your reservation and continuously check for price dips. When a higher category room becomes available, you will be sent an alert and an offer to upgrade your current reservation. These websites provide quick and easy ways to know when an upgrade has become available.
Tip 5 – Be Well Dressed: – Okay, we all want to be comfortable when we travel. I too have been guilty of, on occasion, dressing down while traveling. However, the chances of getting an upgrade increase, when you arrive dressed nicely and well presented. Who wants to give an upgrade to someone who looks like a slob vs. someone who is nicely ‘packaged’— Look the part and you will be amazed what you can get!
Tip 6 – Book Directly With the Hotel via the Phone: This is a simple strategy – reserve your reservation over the phone while speaking with a live agent. Be engaging and fun – and simply ASK for the upgrade. Take this a step further and send an email or note to the General Manager advising he or she of your arrival. Be sure to include how much you are looking forward to experiencing their hotel. Chances are the General Manager will provide an upgrade or send you an amenity upon arrival. Another advantage, by booking directly with the hotel…the hotel will save on commissions thereby increasing your chances for an upgrade.
Tip 7 – Celebrate Special Occasions: Be creative with this strategy…Front Desk Agents are bombarded all of the time with upgrade requests due to birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries (though they are good reasons to garner an upgrade). However, by being a tad creative you can also be advantageous. Examples include celebrating a divorce, securing a large piece of business, completing a massive project, etc. The possibilities are endless…so make the occasion special for you and only you!
Tip 8 – Experience a New Hotel: – You are likely to secure an upgrade at a hotel that has recently opened. These hotels are seeking word of mouth referrals and reviews on websites such as TripAdvisor. They offer lower than market value room rates on luxurious accommodations to compete in their market and also seek to grow their dedicated ‘fan’ base. Research new hotels in the area you wish to travel to. You will be surprised how the newness can play to your advantage.
Tip 9 – Research the Hotel: By researching, the hotel you are staying at will reap many benefits. Research should, at minimal, include the busiest time of year for the various room types – standard to penthouse suites. Be slightly conservative in your expectations about the possible type of upgrades available. Educate yourself to become familiar with higher category room types. Going from a basic Deluxe room to Superior room with a terrific view is a realistic expectation.
Tip 10 – Know the Right People: This final strategy dovetails nicely with Tip 6. Once you have confirmed your reservation, email the General Manager to say how excited you are about staying at the hotel. You will be amazed with what you may receive in terms of upgrades and additional amenities. It is also wise to get to know the Concierge Staff, whose primary job is to personalize your stay as much as possible (they generally have more influence on upgrades than desk agents do).
Now that you are armed with a few great tips, upgrading your next stay should be faster, easier, and more enjoyable with additional rewards!