In this economy, you don’t have to pay full price for a suite in order to enjoy extra amenities such as multiple rooms, fancy tubs or even just a robe and slippers. With high vacancy rates hitting the priciest rooms, it’s often possible to upgrade for free. The most important part is simply to ask, says Anne McAlpin, travel expert and author of Pack It Up. “Most people don't know or remember to request an upgrade.”
Here are additional tips for how to score a better hotel room while still booking at the standard rate.
Charm the Front Desk
Guest rooms are usually assigned at the discretion of the front desk employees. Ask for an upgrade upon arrival, especially if it’s low season or you’re staying for the weekend at a business hotel. Genevieve Brow, a senior editor at Travelocity, suggests providing details about why you’re staying there. “Maybe it is a special anniversary, your honeymoon or just a night away from the kids – don’t be afraid to tell the person at the desk exactly why you’re there and why you choose that hotel for your celebration.”
Sign-Up for Loyalty Programs
With most companies including hotels and online travel booking sites using loyalty programs to attract customers, it’s often possible to get a free upgrade by simply using the same booking service. If you’re willing to splurge, check out the Tablet Plus Program at Tablethotels.com which offers guests free upgrades at high-end boutique hotels for an annual fee. For hotel loyalty programs like Hilton (STOCK QUOTE: BX) or Starwood (STOCK QUOTE: HOT), always sign-up before arrival in case the hotel is able to provide last-minute perks. “That way it’s on your record when they assign rooms before you show up,” says McAlpin. Since cheaper rooms fill up the fastest, hotels often upgrade frequent guests to leave room for last-minute walk-ins.
Shop Around for Promotions
If you’re not looking for a specific place to stay, there’s plenty that individual hotels are doing to compete for guests. Hotels “are adding in great values to their offerings – everything from free nights to free breakfast to – yes – free room upgrades,” says Brow.
State Your Requirements
With so many different travel scenarios, it’s best to tell the hotels exactly what you’re looking for in a different room – whether it’s a desk to work at, an ocean view balcony or more luxurious linens. “If what you want out of your upgrade is a bigger bed, that may be a more manageable request than an upgrade to a suite,” explains Brow.
Develop a Relationship
If you’re assigned to organize a convention at work, or some other reunion make sure to become acquainted with the manager where you have brought extra customers. That way, when you’re going somewhere that the hotel has locations, you can tap into your network and inquire about an upgrade from within.