5 Ways to Increase Your Chances of a Free Hotel Room Upgrade

We can all picture the scene, recreated on the big screen in hundreds of Hollywood movies. A handsome male actor, in his mid-forties wearing a tailored suit, arrives at a hotel.

“How was your flight, Sir?”

He replies simply. The receptionist checks her computer, frowns.

“It seems Sir, unfortunately your room is no longer available.”

Before he can react, his face only hinting at a note of disappointment, she quickly says, “But we can offer you an upgrade,” she looks at him and smiles, “to the Penthouse Suite, if that would be to your liking.”

“Thank you, that will do nicely,” he says, before the scene cuts to a set of double doors being opened onto a beautiful view.

We have all smiled hopefully, knowingly or a little enviously at this kind of scene, with suites overlooking the canals of Venice, bright lights of Vegas and gridlocked streets of downtown Manhattan; all from comfortable spacious hotel rooms far above the maddening crowd.

But how easily can you score an upgrade?

It all depends on room availability, of course. It is, however, a lot easier than you might expect, providing you establish the right kind of relationship with your hotel. Here are six tips that will help:

Spend a Little Extra, Get A Lot

Staying in an entry-level room signals to the hotel you probably don’t have the disposable income to drop on extras, like mini-bars, restaurants or spa treatments.

Spending a little extra, by purchasing a suite or mid-range room makes that more likely, which makes the staff more inclined to offer an upgrade if one is available.

Be Polite

Quite simply, treat hotel staff as you want to be treated.

Hotel staff, especially those on the reception desk see hundreds of people every day. Tired, cranky, arrogant, bossy, rude people, who have been traveling for hours and just want comfortable bed, shower and some food. Staff, however, have been working for seven hours after waking in the early hours are expected to be polite, friendly and happy regardless.

Instead of being that guy who just wants to get up to his room, take a moment, smile, be nice and polite. Make small talk. Staff will be much more likely to give you an upgrade than others who asked without making an effort first.

Join a Loyalty Scheme

Most hotel chains have loyalty schemes. They are worth joining and come with perks other travelers can’t get. These are especially useful for those who often travel, like business customers. Every time you book you are making an upgrade more likely, thanks to the loyalty scheme recording the frequency of your visits.

Hotels, like airlines and supermarkets, reward loyal customers, so when asking for an upgrade don’t be afraid to mention you are a member.

Shorter Stays: Increased Chances

Scoring an upgrade is a lottery.

Your chances increase, the shorter your stay, since of all the rooms in the hotel a penthouse often has the lowest occupancy. So if you are aiming for a three day weekend, then it’s worth asking. For a full two weeks, not likely. Out of season, and weekends that aren’t major holidays are also good times to ask for an upgrade.

Book Direct

When clicking book, have a think about whether you do it on the hotel site or by a third party. When you arrive at the reception desk they’ll know, so chances are if you book directly they’ll see you as a more valuable guest. You’ll be left feeling rather smug compared to the person behind you who didn’t book direct.

Hotels always aim to provide the best service possible. They want you to come back. They hope you tell others about how great it was. Getting a free upgrade is a sure fire way to achieve that and with our 5 tips you can increase your chances.

What has worked for you in the past? Tell us in the comments.

About The Author

All of our blogs are written in-house by the team to give you a mixture of news hot off the press, advice columns for hoteliers, and Triptease business news.