One of the biggest hotel aggravations is knowing that while you’re crammed into a closet, luxury suites sit empty. Here are a few tips for getting luxurious upgrades.


  1. Book direct
    When you book your hotel rooms directly you do the hotel a favor by saving them distribution or commission cost. They often return the favor in terms of upgrades. Hotel companies like Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, Radisson and others offer a “best rate” guarantees. So, by booking direct you can get a great deal.
  2. Build your loyalty
    By dealing directly with the hotel you build loyalty. That’s important because loyalty can pay off in upgrades. Loyalty can be easily leveraged. If you’re in a lobby full of convention attendees who are only in the area for a long weekend, and not likely to return, stress your loyalty to the person helping you. Tell them that you love the hotel and you’d like to come back. You’ll be the perfect choice for an upgrade.
  3. Time your arrival
    Most hotel guests check out between 12 and 2pm. Business travelers tend to check-in around 5pm and after. Time your check in between 3 and 5pm so the good rooms are still available. If you can’t make it between these times call the hotel and inquire about your room type. Usually you can get the hotel to block a nice room before your arrival.
  4. Think competitively
    Call reservations managers at two competing hotels; explain that you’re trying to decide which hotel will offer better value and let a bidding war ensued. This can reap inexpensive rooms and a nice upgrade.
  5. Get on the list
    Call ahead and ask the hotel’s manager to place a note in the computer, a request for an upgrade. Requests with the boss’s name get results.
  6. Write for results
    Tell the desk agent, you would be happy to write a note to management about how helpful they are. Hotel staff members love letters because it becomes a part of their permanent personnel record helping them get raises and promotions.
  7. Tip Wisely
    Getting escorted to your room by a bell person? Offer them a $20 tip to help you score a nicer room.



Joel Widzer Psy.D., is an expert on consumer loyalty and frequent flier programs. He is the author of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel and a contributor to MSNBC. His consulting firm advises travelers and businesses on a range of issues from maximizing their travel programs to managing travel fatigue. He can be reached at 714-544-2855.