Who are the Most Critical Hotel Staff in Obtaining Hotel Room Upgrades?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Lighthouse, May 30, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Lighthouse
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    Lighthouse Gold Member

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    Having achieved high status levels with several hotel groups we have generally been very fortunate in obtaining upgrades to suites. In addition we are by our very nature always polite and appreciative of the hotel staff.
    Nevertheless it seems that there is at most properties a high level of discretion in handing out extraordinary suites versus some of the dog rooms we have all stayed in.
    I would appreciate hearing from both industry employees and experienced travelers how much discretion they feel really exists in the room selection process and who typically wields the most day to day power on those decisions: the general manager, the front desk manager, guest relations?
     
  2. jwsky
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    This is such a good question.
    I also wonder whether customers with booking deals through , say, the Travelzoo or Priceline have any chance of a free up grade of some kind.
     
  3. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    There are many ways and inflection points for getting hotel upgrades.

    1. Hotel status obviously matters a lot. It's the reason to ask and ticket in the door. But lots of people have status. With Hyatt, I do find having my private line rep request the upgrade makes a difference versus using a suite upgrade cert just calling the diamond line. With Intercontinental, it's important to understand the upgrade procedures for a hotel since there's little consistency in Royal Ambassador upgrade treatment, some hotels have few room categories and do a 2-category upgrade on any rate (so I booked a $175++ rate at the IC Manila and confirmed upgrade into the Presidential Suite with emails back and forth with the hotel).

    2. Upgrades can be arranged through correspondence with a manager.. GM, reservations manager, revenue manager, etc.

    3. Even without any status, and a 'special occasion' reason for asking faxed to the hotel has yielded some decent upgrades.

    4. Booking through a Virtuoso agent (or Amex FHR) helps, though not usually to the stellar suites but someone doing the booking with some juice or a deal matters.

    5. Various hotels give varying levels of discretion to front desk staff, Randy was quoted years ago in the New York Times suggesting walking up to the counter and saying something like, "I'm feeling pretty important tonight, any chance you could upgrade me to that big Presidential suite?" and it doesn't hurt to ask, once in a blue moon it might work.

    6. I've been upgraded on Priceline reservations, e.g. because the hotel winds up oversold and I'm checking in late, they need to upgrade someone.

    7. Tipping in Las Vegas, a $100 bill at the checkin couner on a 4-night stay at the Bellagio yielded a suite with 5 bathrooms. (I slipped the $100 under my credit card, and asked "I was wondering if there are any upgrades available, I'd love one of those great big penthouse suites.")

    It varies by hotel and by chain, and it pays to investigate others' experiences in advance, what kind of upgrades have folks received and how have they gotten it?
     
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  4. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    It's my understanding (corrections welcome if I'm way off base) that many hotels have a process that helps them determine who receives upgrades. Supposedly, they receive a report listing high elites who will be checking in on a given day; the hotel works with that list, along with its own internal data (for example, noting the arrival of a guest who stays once every week for an entire year) to determine who gets which upgrade.

    Although some premium rooms/suites might be held in reserve, it's possible that virtually all of the desirable upgrade stock is unavailable to the incoming guest who "casually" tries to upgrade at the front desk.
     
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  5. Knowing the Rooms/Revenue/Front Office Manager is invaluable if you stay at the same property more than once.
    I have a stay @ the IC EZE in December and already have a suite confirmed thru the personal relationship (am RA of course too)
     
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  6. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    I've always heard about the $20 trick, but never the $100 trick...well done!
     
  7. FetePerfection
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    And I thought this only worked in the movies - cool...
     
  8. Lighthouse
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    Lighthouse Gold Member

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    Thanks for the helpful input. I am currently at the Willard Intercontinetal where I have received a full range of suites over the years -- from quite stunning view oval suites to junior suites. I am currently in a comfortable Executive suite.

    I am trying to better understand the decision making structure. I booked a deluxe room and was upgraded several days before my arrival to a junior suite. A day before my arrival I found I had been downgraded to a Willard room. When I actually called to inquire about that they were able to upgrade me to an Executive Suite. There seem to be a lot of players behind the process and a lot of arbitrariness in the decisions. I agree that status and politeness allows you to get your foot in the suite door and that there are a lot of variables but I am trying to assess who in the hotel structure really has the most day to day clout on making those decisions.
     
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  9. Travelsavant
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    Gleff, as always, had great input, as have all the others. I'm in the category of receiving knock-out, unforgettable upgrades to wondering if my actual room booked had been downgraded! I believe what it comes down to is a combination of status (personal, money, club), who-you-know &/or talk to and just plain luck. My 3 important road rules: be courteous, always ask & never take no from one not empowered to say yes. So far, has worked pretty well for me.
     
  10. rajuabju
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    rajuabju Gold Member

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    Whatever you think $20 might get you... $100 will get you 5x that (5 bathrooms!). Has worked for me at multiple Vegas hotels in the past. I just wish I could do that at ANY hotel, not just Vegas!
     
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  11. wombat18
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    I am surprised that sometimes the front desk staff don't know their rooms. My strong preference is for a quiet room, which means not only away from the elevator, but also away from the stairs, the hospitality suites, the janitor closet, the ice machine and the industrial plant. (Of course, usually that means one of the suites which isn't bad). Should I be asking for the front desk manager?
     
  12. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Many people answered the right stuff. Being a frequent guest and knowing the front desk manager helps a lot. Currently I work at a 4 Diamond Hotel and won't name the property and it seems to be that way. We don't have status but we acknowledge returning guests.
     
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  13. NYBanker
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    Nothing says you can't try...
     
  14. pearl girl
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    It seems to me that the front desk manager has the most day to day clout. There seem to be a number of them at the hotel..day, evening, etc.
     
  15. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    In addition, even if you do not know the manager or never stayed at the property before, do not hesitate to negotiate rates / upgrades for longer stays.
    If you plan to stay at a business hotel (not resort type properties) longer than 10 days always inquire about extra space (upgrade) for comfort.
    All hotels can knock off some $$ for longer stays, especially if you mention their competitor is willing to do the same.
     
  16. richinaz
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    richinaz Silver Member

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    A number of years ago (10+) I was working out of state and spent a large number of days at a hotel (nothing fancy) and was given a substantial discount if my stay exceeded 30 days. The discount was large enough that even if I was heading back home for a weekend or so, it made sense not to check out of the hotel.

    A consistent customer who is low maintenance can get treated well (this also includes restaurants/bars/clubs). They would often leave me snacks in my room w/o asking for anything.
     
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