Who doesn’t love a hotel room upgrade? The chances of getting a better room than the one you booked aren’t a pipe dream, according to Jack Ezon, a hotel specialist at the New York City-based travel consultancy Ovation Vacations.
“There are lots of ways to get upgrades at a hotel,” he said.
Below, he shares tips for snagging better accommodations for no extra cost, but cautions that travelers should make sure that they actually want the upgrade they’re getting.
“I’ve had clients who booked a junior suite and got upgraded to a duplex suite that they hated because of the steps. In another instance, I had four couples traveling together who booked separate rooms and got upgraded to a four-bedroom villa. They were irate because they wanted space from each other on their vacation,” he said.
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▪ Book with a travel adviser: Booking the old-fashioned way has its privileges, according to Ezon, because many advisers have close relationships with hotel managers.
“An adviser can call or email the manager and instantly get you an upgrade,” he said.
And, he said, travelers usually don’t have to pay an adviser a fee to make the hotel booking.
Some travel agencies are also part of agency-only hotel loyalty programs such as the Dorchester Diamond Club from the Dorchester Collection, which has 10 upscale properties. Travelers who book a stay at a Dorchester property like the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles through one of these agencies receive an automatic upgrade when they make a reservation.
▪ Ask on arrival: It sounds almost too simplistic, but it’s not, according to Ezon, because very few hotel guests outright ask for a better hotel room.
“Usually, if rooms aren’t booked, the person checking you in is open to giving you an upgrade,” he said.
In some cases, he said, hotels may be willing to upgrade you to a significantly better room for a minimal charge.
“Instead of paying $1,000 or more a night for a fabulous suite, they may ask you to pay $100” for an upgrade, he said.
▪ Play the special occasion card: If you mention that you’re celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary, at the time of booking, many hotels may upgrade you when you check in.
▪ Book a new hotel: When hotels first open, they usually have low occupancy, according to Ezon, and actually make it a point to upgrade guests.
“New properties want to get as many people buzzing about their hotel as possible and want to spoil you with an upgrade with the hope that you will come back,” he said.
▪ Travel off-season: Since hotels have lower occupancy when it’s not the peak season, they are more apt to upgrade guests to a room that is several categories higher than what they booked, Ezon said.
“It’s no consequence or lost revenue to a hotel to let you stay in a better room that’s sitting empty. If anything, it’s going to make you so happy that you’ll book another stay at the property,” he said.