Upgrade Me Up
Everybody always love unexpected upgrades, especially when it is F.R.E.E. It's human nature that we all think we deserve some pampering since we have been working our butts off and too poor to afford any luxurious treatment.
Well good news is that hotel upgrades may be easier to achieve than an upgrade in the air (trust me, all the 'hacks' about getting free airline upgrades are soooo 90's now). Let me share a few tips and stories from my experience based on working and staying at hotels.
1. A dirty room or some 'unexpected' visitors can be a good thing.
The possibility of a guest checking into a dirty room or an occupied room is higher than what you expect...unless if you have working experience in this industry. I can assure you that this issue comes up on a regular basis and I think hotels have already accepted it as a norm.
I was travelling in Korea a few years ago and had interesting visitors in my room. After checking in and unpacking a few of my stuff, I went to have an afternoon nap and soon was disturbed by buzzing noises. Woke up and found three huge cockroaches flying around the room...#mothernature. Both my partner and myself are not afraid of cockroaches but I thought this is the perfect opportunity to score a free upgrade as service recovery. To make it more dramatic, we captured one in the hotel water glass and brought it down to reception.
As we expected, the front desk agents were screaming and horrified and well I was grinning. Voila! We were then upgraded to the best suite category in the hotel for the remaining duration of our stay.
So I would suggest you to check your room thoroughly when you entered. Or perhaps pray to the hotel heavens that you will get a dirty room. Even though you might be grossed out, but think of the sweet sweet upgrade.
2. Be nice to front desk
No hotel is perfect and there are bound to be flaws even if you have paid big bucks for the best experience of your life. The logic is simple: the more you pay for something, the more you will expect it to perform. So if you found something off-putting, please do let front desk agents know in a nice manner and they might score you with an upgrade in return. And again, the logic is simple: if you want something, ask politely and nicely. Front desk agents do have a higher power to convince managers on duty for upgrade authorisation compared to airline staff. When a guest feels appreciated, it will make the front desk agent's day. Trust me, approximately 70% of the time a front desk agent deals with rude guests on a weekly basis. So if there is a really nice guest, we treat that person as a saint. But please don't be too nice to the point of creepy-ness, that will probably cause more trouble.
3. Arrive late but not too late
Like airline companies, hotels do tend to oversell their rooms (especially standard rooms) and hope that there will be last minute cancellations or no shows. The first rule of thumb is to bump those who have higher level in the loyalty program first, and then wait until the standard rooms are actually filled up. Once the standard rooms are fully occupied, the next guest arrival who has booked a standard room will get a free upgrade. The hotel would rather the guest stays in a higher room category than having to tell the guest that he or she needs to go to another hotel for the night. But be careful! Don't arrive too late as there is a chance the hotel doesn't even have any rooms or suites for you and you will have to be allocated to another hotel (unless the hotel allocates you to another better hotel which could happen!). I find that 8 to 10pm is a good time in general but this rule does not apply to all hotels. And also keep in mind that you are taking a risk and won't be able to guarantee a 100% success rate. Another factor to consider is that if you arrive late means that you won't be able to spend more time exploring the hotel and using their facilities.
4. Discounted upgrade
Lastly, why not consider an upgrade with a discounted rate? Generally this works well when you arrive in the morning. Like I have mentioned in the previous point that hotels do tend to oversell, they would seek for any opportunity for guest to 'voluntarily' pay for an upgrade, which most of the time will be at a discounted rate. It's a revenue strategy.
Hotels would assume that you are a traveller, whether it is for business or leisure, when you rock up early in the morning to check in. So if you ask whether there is a better room available for you to check in, front desk will know the juice and would be more than happy to as it will involve their upsells incentive. Or front desk will ask you instead if you would like to upgrade to a better room at a XX rate. International hotel chains generally have a standardised discounted upgrade rate, so why not take advantage of it the next time you travel somewhere and had to check in early? Subject to availability
So next time when you yearn for a hotel upgrade, always remember that it is easier than trying to score an airline upgrade. You might be surprise that it is easier than you thought and for a free upgrade, you will be shocked to know that the odds are pretty high. Unless of course you don't stay in hotels ever then...yeah sorry can't help you.
Until next time, take care and stay inspired!