When I first heard about this strategy, I couldn’t believe it.
“That’s really it?” I asked. “Don’t I need to have a cool $20 bill in my hand as I shake their hand or something?”
My friend Reece said no, there was no need for all that.
He worked at a hotel at the time, so the chance that he knew what he was talking about was high.
How to Get Free Hotel Upgrades
When you check in to your hotel, first, of course, be nice. Nobody gives free upgrades to jerks. Make small talk, be friendly. Don’t be awkward. After they know your name, but before they hand over the keys, simply ask:
“Hey, are there any upgrades available?”
The person behind the desk will check to see if there are upgrades available, and if there are (and there almost always are), they’re happy to give it to you.
Reece explained why it works, and after his explanation, it all makes sense.
Why it Works
Hotels run at an occupancy rate of under 100% almost every night, which means there are rooms available at every rate almost all the time. So, when a friendly person asks if there are upgrades available, and they’ve been booked into the cheapest room, it makes sense for the receptionist to move the asker to an upgraded room, making the cheap room available to someone who walks in off the street.
It Sounds Too Easy
The first time I tried this, I was really nervous. We were in New Orleans, and the receptionist said that our room wouldn’t be available for a few hours. “Um,” I squeaked, “do you have any upgrades available?” I was tempted to backpedal and say more, but I stopped talking after I asked.
“Let me check,” he said. Click click click. “Yes, there’s a suite available on the seventh floor. Will that work for you?”
We skipped to the elevator thinking we’d gotten away with something illicit.
When There Aren’t Upgrades Available
The absolute worst that can happen is that the receptionist says, sorry, but there aren’t any available tonight. That happened to us around Christmastime at a fancy resort in Phoenix. Turns out, Christmas is the tippy top of the high season for them.
We were just in Oakland (full post about that soon!) and I’d completely forgotten about the magic question. Brent has the memory of an elephant, though, so he asked, and she moved us from the third floor to the 20th floor, where the views were excellent. She also gave us a free parking voucher for the hotel’s garage.
So, friends. Ask! Always ask. Let me know if you’ve ever tried this.