Photo: stgeorgeswales via flickr
A couple weeks ago, I traveled to the Midwest and stayed at a nice Holiday Inn with comfortable bedding and a view facing the city.The only problem: the hot water had a hard time getting, well, hot. After one cooler-than-warm shower, my second attempt at bathing a couple of hours later wasn’t fogging the mirrors.
Usually I’d toughen it out because getting rejected can be a huge hassle.
But I was travelling during a slower season, and it didn’t seem like the hotel was that busy. Why not stand up for my money?
I explained the situation to the front desk, who said they would switch me to another room on a lower floor, which felt like a bit of a downgrade. I then asked if there were any upgrades available and what I could do to get one (hey, showering in cold water sucks). Bingo: Magically, I was upgraded to a suite for free.
How did I do it? My short visit probably helped, a front desk manager in an Atlanta told MSNBC:
“Staying only one night, coming in late and travelling when there’s a conference in town make it easier to give someone an upgrade. We want to keep people happy. We could be under-booked, and if someone comes up and is really pleasant, but obviously exhausted, I’ll give him a nicer view, or a bigger bed.”
Timing my check-in between 3 and 5 p.m. also helped since most guests would have already checked in by then, allowing the hotel more wiggle room to grant me an upgrade.
MSN Money says consumer demand for travelling has picked up in the past two years, so getting an upgrade has gotten harder. But if you follow my tips, you just might find yourself living the high life:
- Be kind to the front desk, but don’t be bashful either. Clearly state what you want and hold firm. If they don’t have it at the moment, you might just get it later.
- Do your homework. Knowing exactly what you want–a view by the sea or a penthouse suite–will help you get it.
- Online presence is everything, so mention you’ll write a review. Nothing breeds bad business like a negative Yelp review.
- Join a hotel loyalty program. If the hotel sees you’re a returning customer, they’ll be more apt to keep your business. Many also offer incentive programs and “on-the-spot upgrades may go to members of their programs,” says USA Today.
- Use reward cards to up the ante. Frequent travellers rack up more perks.
- Name drop. This isn’t a tried-and-trued method, but sometimes it can be persuasive, writes Kiwicollection.
- Dress for success. Yes, it’s superficial, but you look the part, you might land the freebie. Professionally-dressed travellers who look all business tend to earn more respect at hotels.
NOW WATCH: Money & Markets videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.