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Travel Tip: How to get a hotel upgrade

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Who doesn’t love getting an upgrade? Have you ever wondered the best way to ensure upgrade success, without having any hotel status, or having to resort to bribery?

First of all, you should always select a room in the minimum room category that will make you happy. Not just the minimum acceptable room category, but the one that you will be happy with even if you do not get an upgrade. You will commit time and money to this trip, don’t gamble these expenses in hopes of saving a few dollars.

Once you have determined your preferred room category, get in touch with your travel advisor to make the reservation. Check to see if they participate in the preferred partner program for that hotel. Not every hotel has such a program, but for the ones that do this step can give you an edge over other guests attempting to upgrade. It can also offer you special rates not available through any other channel.

For example, my preferred partnerships include:

  1. Four Seasons Preferred Partner (FSPP)

  2. Belmond Bellini Club (formerly Orient-Express)

  3. Ritz-Carlton STARS

  4. Starwood Luxury Privileges

  5. Rosewood Elite

  6. Peninsula Pen Club

  7. Relais & Chateaux

  8. and others

Next, let your advisor know your anticipated arrival time at the hotel. Will you need an early check-in? Will you be arriving late in the evening? This information helps the hotel plan for your arrival. If you show up unannounced at 10:00 AM after a redeye flight, the hotel is going to do their best to find you a room in your category. It may be the room next to the elevator. It may be the smallest version in the category. It may be an upgrade. Give yourself the best chances for it to be the latter by helping the hotel prepare for your arrival.

Along these same lines, consider the math. Do you need a room with two queen beds? Then do not expect an upgrade into a room category that only has king beds. Are you trying to upgrade from a category with 20 rooms into a category that has 5 rooms? This will be very challenging. Finally, upgrades from one category to the next are also difficult. For, example from a regular room to a suite.

Are you traveling during a peak time? Upgrades are hardest when the hotel is at full occupancy. This is typical during school vacation weeks, the festive season (last two weeks of December, beginning of January), and other major holidays. If you have flexibility with your dates, let your travel advisor know. We can steer you away from these busy periods which will help increase your upgrade potential.

Do you have specific requests for your room? If it must have a fireplace, or a balcony, or any other item that limits the number of available rooms, your chances of an upgrade decrease. If your require special bedding or a child-proofed room, or similar work that must be done to your accommodations prior to your arrival, then there can be less flexibility when you arrive.

Of course everyone has preferences. I recommend communicating them to your travel advisor, no matter how complex. What’s most important to you about this reservation? What items are must haves, and what are just preferences? We can talk through the options, the pros and cons of the room categories and help you make the best selection for your trip.


About the Blogger
Erin Logsdon

Owner and Principal Travel Advisor

Erin is a third generation small business owner. The foundation of her travel agency is one of independence, integrity, and a client-first ethos. 

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