Read on to find out 7 different ways to score a free hotel upgrade that you can use during your next trip:
1. Be really nice. Dress well
Front desk staff and hotel managers deal with lots and lots of people. Be polite, friendly and act nicely when dealing with them. Dress nicely- hotels don’t want to give away free room upgrades ‘just because’. Sometimes the way you look and act can go a long way when aiming to score a free hotel upgrade.
2. Join the loyalty programs
You will have a better chance to score a free hotel upgrade if you are loyal to the hotel and provide repeated business. All the big chains have loyalty programs, make sure to join them. Let the hotels know that you are a rewards program member. Also, make sure to let the hotels know if you have stayed there before (or you can just say that you did). The reasoning behind this is that it is hard to acquire new customers and consequently hotels will give you special treatment if you are a returning customer. This will increase your chances of scoring a free hotel upgrade.
3. Check in late
Timing is key. Do not check in early in the morning. Wait to check in later, the best is between 4-6pm because this way the front desk can see the cancellations and no-shows of the day. Booking dates can also have a huge influence on your chances of scoring a free hotel upgrade. Aim not to book your stay during busy dates because upgrades cannot be given if the hotel is at full capacity.
4. Make it a special occasion
Just make it one- it doesn’t really matter what is it. Let the hotel know prior to your booking if you are going to be spending your birthday or anniversary there. If you are not celebrating anything, make sure to make out of your stay a special occasion. Whether it is an anniversary or a divorce, let them know you have something to celebrate. This way you’ll boost your chances that they’ll treat you to a free hotel upgrade.
5. The $20 trick
Ever heard of the $20 trick? It goes like this: slip the person that is checking you in at the front desk a $20 bill between your credit card and passport and ask if they have any “complimentary” room upgrades available. It is no secret that the front desk folks are not making very much money. This is an old trick that you can learn more about online. It even has multiple websites dedicated to it such as Frontdesktip and Twentydollartrick.
6. The business card trick
This is fresh out of Justin Ross Lee’s collection of tricks on how to maximize what you get for your money when traveling.This is an easy trick that only requires some research and preparation prior to your trip. Many large companies have agreements with hotels to get their rooms at discount rates. For example, a room might be $1k per night usually, but Remington gets it for 199$. You just need to conduct research and print your business card for $4.99 prior to your trip to become a Remington employee for the night. You can learn more about this trick from its creator Justin Ross Lee.
7. Do some research
Make sure to do at least 45 minutes of research prior to your check in at the hotel. If everything else fails, you will be able to leverage this research to obtain a free upgrade. Find out about the nearby hotels, the different room types the hotel you are staying at has to offer and the name of the managers on duty at your hotel. Once you check into your room, carefully scan the whole room in search of something that might not be working (you can even pretend something isn’t working if you don’t find anything, as Justin Ross Lee suggests; for example, lighting a match in a non-smoking room). Once you find the issue, call front desk and let them know you wouldn’t like to have to change to the nearby hotel XYZ just because this issue is going on in your room. They will offer you a change of room and it will most likely come with a complimentary upgrade.