The Great 'Hotel staff, tell us how to get upgraded' Hunt

MSE_Jenny Posts: 1,312
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
MSE Staff
There's nothing sweeter than bagging a free upgrade to a bigger, better, more expensive hotel room. So we'd like any MoneySavers who work or have worked at hotels to dish the dirt on their upgrade policies.

What's the best time to arrive, is it worth mentioning your anniversary/birthday, dressing up posh or just asking outright?



  • malkie76
    malkie76 Posts: 6,170
    Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    Isn't the accepted technique to actually pay for what you want ?
    Legal team on standby
  • calm down malkie- i bet you wouldnt turn down a nicer, biffer room, eh?

    I once worked for a travel agent, and got to know most hotel reservation staff, and managers, through the many bookings we made.

    being flexible, clear in what you want / can afford, and not wasting time helps everyone..

    where i worked there was several 'standard' rates we could use- a corporate rate for the firm, a rate for using a certain payment card, etc..
    i would always ask for the lowest rate, and advise x passenger was checking in late/early (which was true, in most cases!), needed help (luggage / privacy/ security issues etc), and most times the hotel would look after them well- either a bump up, or a courtesy fruit basket etc.

    its the little things that make the difference. and repeat bookings!
    Long time away from MSE, been dealing real life stuff..
    Sometimes seen lurking on the compers forum :-)
  • dmg24
    dmg24 Posts: 33,925 Forumite
    Exactly the same principles as the airline upgrades saga (with the primary one being common sense)! :rolleyes:

    * Be an elite member of the chain's loyalty offering.
    * Be a VIP/ have social standing.
    * Pay for it.

    I have worked in a hotel and at Butlins (and at a Butlins hotel!). Neither upgraded people that asked. Butlins will upgrade those that have booked early, but only when their booked accom is oversubscribed. 'Special requests' at Butlins meant that your accom was allocated first, and therefore you would definitely get what you booked and nothing more.

    On the subject of Butlins and upgrades, I did once upgrade Anthea Turner ... to a Noddy room! :D
    Gone ... or have I?
  • Raffles99
    Raffles99 Posts: 34 Forumite
    edited 26 October 2009 at 11:33AM
    1. Pay for the room you want

    2. Remember that at modern budget properties (Holiday Inn Express, Travelodge etc) the rooms are basically all the same anyway!

    3. Book a short stay - you are more likely to be upgraded on a short stay because they don't want to lose the flexibility of selling your expensive upgraded room in a day or so's time. A hotel is unlikely to block out a suite for a week for an upgrade.

    4. Find a fault with your room and ask to move - you are likely to be moved to a better one

    5. Use forums like to find discount codes or other ways to get cheaper rates in the global chain properties, and learn how to maximise the points from their loyalty schemes. You can reach the highest Platinum level in the Holiday Inn / Crowne Plaza / InterCon programme with a surprisingly low number of stays, for instance, if you sign up for the unpublicised bonus point offers you'll find on these forums.

    6. Join the loyalty scheme if there is one. Some give benefits such as a free newspaper to even base level members, and they are always free. InterContinental Ambassador GUARANTEES an upgrade at InterContinental hotels but costs $150 to join - however, this also includes a voucher for a free weekend night at any InterContinental hotel plus a free pay TV film on every stay and 5000 points in their loyalty scheme, plus Gold status at Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza properties.

    7. Some booking agents like American Express Fine Hotels & Rewards (for Plat or Centurion charge card holders only) have a deal with the hotel to upgrade you on availability if you book through them, and also give benefits such as free breakfasts, free lunch etc.

    8. Remember that upgrades do not necessarily mean a bigger room. It could mean a 'business' or 'club' room where the room is usually the same size but the amenties are better (eg bathrobe and slippers, perhaps a coffee machine) and possibly with a private lounge with free refreshments. An upgrade can also represent a room on a high floor or a room with a better view. I have also turned down upgrades in the past because the upgraded room was in a bad location or a strange shape - a junior suite can often be better than a suite, for example, because you get one large open-plan room instead of two small rooms separated by a door.

    9. Accept that if you are not a regular guest and / or have paid a discounted rate, you are likely to be at the back of the queue.

    10. Arrive early or late. A late arrival may be upgraded by default if other rooms have gone, an early arrival may be upgraded if they have no standard rooms available but are still willing to let you check-in early. This often happens if a large group was staying the night before.
  • feesh
    feesh Posts: 328 Forumite
    I usually smile nicely at check in and if it's a big building, ask for a room "with a nice view" or a room "as high up as possible" - this normally results in an upgrade (did it the other week at the Bristol Marriott).

    Sometimes, I just ask blatantly for an upgrade with a nice smile, and it sometimes works, if the hotel is fairly quiet.
  • lfabia1
    lfabia1 Posts: 4 Newbie
    edited 26 October 2009 at 2:32PM
    I used to work in a hotel as a receptionist. There were a few occasions where I would upgrade people.
    1) If someone either rung up (or on arrival) said it was a special occasion, one that would always guarantee an upgrade would be if they said it was their anniversary and they got marrried at the hotel.
    2) If they were a very nice persion then I would usually give them at least 1 upgrade.
    3) Some people were very fussy, they would go to a room and always find someting wrong with it i.e. it is noisy, its near a lift, it was too far from reception etc, and the only rooms I could find to move them too would be an upgraded room in order to avoid any more complaints.
    4) If the hotel was full we would have to upgrade people, this would be done firstly on the customers paying the highest rate for the room.
    Generally though - if it was someone really nice (like a sweet old lady or just someone very polite and happY) I would upgrade them without them asking.
    We did have a reward system though where if we charged someone for an upgrade we would get a % of that - so I know some people would try to get them to pay for the upgrade before giving it away.

    I recently went to a hotel in US, to upgrade with virgin it would have been extortionate, at reception they said it would be $50 a nt (a lot less than virgin) but I managed to get it down to $20.nt - so often it may be worth waiting until you are at the hotel to negotiate it with them.
  • ocalllo
    ocalllo Posts: 443 Forumite
    Myself and o/h travel alot mostly 2/3 nights at a time and we are very lucky in the upgrade department.
    We have NEVER asked out right but we are just nice to the check in staff and this seams to work - not always but very often.
    For example in July we were in Hong Kong for a week, we booked a basic room on the net, seeking out the cheapest deal - got a bargain. Then when we arrived we were told we had been upgraded to a harbour view room - fab!
    This December for our anniversary i ctc'd the hotel direct (first time ever)and asked if they had any special offers as celebrating - got super cheap rate and nice room and promise of bottle of wine when we arrive.
    Not so lucky with Flight upgrades as we usually go budget, however did blag an upgrade to NZ with BA for our wedding! had to ask for that and it turned out the manager was from the same town as my Nan in IRELAND! small world lol.
    Saying Thank You doesn't cost anything :beer:
  • I work in a small independent hotel and always upgrade all guests if possible. However, guests are reminded that if they have booked a single room we cannot always guarentee a double in future, nor from double to suite etc. Generally, guests who attend on a regular basis will get better rooms.

    On a similar theme independent hotels can offer very good prices to those who book direct as they do not have to pay booking fees to agents (usually upto 15%).
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  • A slightly unorthadox way worked well for me, whilst staying at a nice hotel in San Francisco earlier in the year I ended up getting a little inebriated with the reservations manager on the first night of my stay (she was off duty and the hotel had a nice bar!!)
    Came back in after doing the touristy stuff the next day to discover there was nothing in my room, all my cases were gone etc.
    Went down to reception and found that she'd upgraded me to a junior suite for the rest of my stay.

    As I say, a slightly different way of going about it, but worth it!
    Working through my debts one company at a time
  • malkie76
    malkie76 Posts: 6,170
    Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    calm down malkie- i bet you wouldnt turn down a nicer, biffer room, eh?

    I'm unsure in what way I'm not being calm? I'm prepared to pay for the room I want in the first place rather than look or request for an upgrade. You'll notice from the detailed responses in this thread that indeed the number 1 tip is to pay for the service that you want.

    The other pretty sensible tip (as detailed above) is join a loyalty scheme and stick to a particular hotel chain or group. You'll find that many people who travel alot and generate significant money for hotel groups will routinely experience a better service. However I'd guess that about 90% of MSE users don't fall into that category and are actually looking for tips for their annual holiday.
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