You know that coworker who always manages to score a club level hotel room while you’re stuck on the first floor. Or gets a corner suite with a river view while you draw back the curtains to reveal…the building next door. How does she do it? Her business travel budget can’t be that much bigger than yours.
Getting a room upgrade is a quick way to turn your stay from so-so to fantastic. Fortunately, upgrades aren’t that hard to get—and you can often get them for free—it just takes a little travel savvy. Here are 11 strategies for getting a free hotel room upgrade.
1. Ask for one. Sound too easy? You’d be surprised how often a simple, polite “Do you happen to have any upgrades available?” actually works. Be nice, smile, and don’t forget the power of “please” and “thank you.”
2. Join the hotel’s loyalty program. Just like courtesy, loyalty goes a long way. Even if the loyalty program technically restricts upgrades to members at the highest levels, you can often get one anyway just by being part of the club.
3. Use the right credit card. Many credit cards, especially hotel branded credit cards, entitle you to automatic upgrades.
4. Name-drop your company. Don’t be an obnoxious name-dropper, but if your company name is impressive and you can find a way to do it subtly, go for it. Hotels are anxious to appeal to business travelers because they are often repeat clients and will recommend properties to their coworkers.
5. Stay at a new hotel. It can be tough for new hotels to break onto the scene, so they frequently offer upgrades and perks to entice travelers away from more established brands.
6. Wait until the last minute. Even when you reserve a room in advance, wait until later to check in—if the standard rooms are already taken, you might have to make do with an upgraded king suite.
7. Book a room in the mid–price range. An upgrade is more likely if you book a mid-price room rather than a base price room. In this case, a small additional investment can lead to a large bonus.
8. Don’t use an online travel agent. Hotels are much less likely to give special treatment if you book your room using an online travel agent like Expedia. For your best chance at an upgrade, book with Hotel Engine or call the hotel directly.
9. Contact the manager. This tip comes from travel goddess Wendy Perrin. She recommends emailing the manager to compliment the way he or she responds to online reviews and to express how much you are looking forward to staying at the hotel. The manager might think you are a frequent hotel reviewer and want to impress you.
10. Tell them if it’s a special occasion. Is it your birthday or anniversary? Are you receiving some kind of special recognition at the business conference? If your stay coincides with a special occasion, there is no harm in mentioning it.
11. Don’t complain. Remember that old adage about catching more flies with honey? It’s true. Unless you really do have something to complain about, complaining is not an effective upgrade-seeking strategy. A smile and a few pleasant comments will lead to much greater rewards.