How to Get a Room Upgrade (When You Aren't a Frequent Traveler!)

How to Get a Room Upgrade (When You Aren’t a Frequent Traveler!)


Lets’ face it: business and frequent travelers are often handsomely rewarded with room upgrades. But what about people who don’t travel that often? Is there any chance for a room upgrade for us? I say yes! These 8 tips may help you secure a room upgrade on your next trip!

Before I get to the tips, I want to remind y’all that the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale starts today! Go get in the virtual line RIGHT NOW to get amazing markdowns on some of my favorite Lilly items that are perfect for your 2020 vacations!

Fun fact: one of my very first jobs was at the front desk of an iconic San Francisco hotel. I learned a few tips and tricks there and ever since traveling with my husband.

I can’t promise these seven tips will land you an upgrade every time, but they are definitely worth a try!

  1. Ask to enroll in their rewards program. One time upon check-in my mom asked a Westin front desk employee if there was any chance of up an upgrade if she enrolled in their rewards program. He said, yes, as a matter of fact, if she signed up they would upgrade her to the concierge floor. Bingo!  And it was a nice concierge floor with wine, beer and heavy hor d’oeuvres (i.e. dinner for the children!). Lessons: you never know until you ask! And sign up for their rewards program!
  2. Don’t ask for an early check in AND an upgrade. During the early afternoon the front desk staff is busy checking people out from the night before and getting early arrivals checked. They aren’t as likely to give upgrades as perhaps they may be later in the day when everything shakes out. Between 5-6 pm is a time when most rooms are cleaned and before the evening rush. If an upgrade request is declined at first, ask if your chances would be higher if you waited a few hours to check in.
  3. No brainer here: upgrades are more likely to happen on non peak days. We checked into our hotel on a Sunday.
  4. Ask for the front desk manager. Not in a pushy or angry way (that rarely goes over well!) but in a friendly “can you help me out?” kind of way. Share if it’s your anniversary or a special occasion. See what they can do to enhance your stay. They might only send up some chocolates and a bottle of champagne, but he also might upgrade you. You never know!
  5. Better yet: email or call the front desk manager or concierge a few days before your stay. Tell him or her how excited you are about your upcoming stay and inquire if there is anything they can do to make the trip more memorable. Definitely mention if you are a rewards member in this email. (Again: this is important!) They will most likely say they can’t guarantee anything but will often put a note in your reservation and the front desk staff member may decide to upgrade you on the spot, especially if they aren’t near capacity.
  6. Ask if there are any larger rooms or rooms more suited to families. This tip is especially helpful if you are staying in an older hotel where every room isn’t exactly alike. For example, at the Fairmont in San Francisco there was one random L-shaped room on every floor that was technically one room but had the square footage of two rooms. It was perfect for families with children and pack ‘n plays. It technically wasn’t an upgrade but guests were quite happy to have more space than a standard San Francisco hotel room. Again: you never know until you ask!
  7. If you are unhappy with your room, ask to see a few more. Sometimes you have to get to your room first and have a (legit) reason for asking for a room change. If the location is too noisy, it isn’t cleaned properly, or smells like smoke, these are all reasons to ask to see other rooms. Sometimes hotels will go the extra mile to make sure you are happy with your stay and don’t leave a negative review.
  8. A Tip Can Go A Long Way! If you are confident enough, slip the front desk staff member a $50 or $100 as you ask if there are any upgrades available. You are definitely rolling the dice with this trick but it often works. The first time someone did this to me I was shocked. But I definitely upgraded him to a suite!

What tips do you have for getting an upgrade? Share your experiences below! And don’t forget about the Lilly sale!

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