Top 7 Ways to Score Free Hotel Upgrades

Today I am very pleased and honored to share with everyone a great guest post by Amy Chan, Director of Marketing for Kiwi Collection. She was gracious enough to offer some great insider tips on how to get the best upgrade possible at hotels.

Hotel Upgrade


Sometimes, just being personable and friendly can go a long way in scoring a free hotel upgrade. But for times when a nice smile and pleasant demeanor aren’t enough, here are some other tricks to try.

1. Timing – The front desk needs to know the inventory of rooms they have. If you check in later in the day, between 4-6PM, you can increase your chances because they can see the cancellations and no-shows. Also, if your dates are flexible try to avoid busy holiday times, as upgrades cannot be given if a hotel is at full occupancy.

2. Book a room in the middle price range – It doesn’t help your odds to get an upgrade if you book the cheapest room category available. Book a room that is in the mid-range for better chances.

3. Ask – It doesn’t hurt to ask, and the worst thing that can happen is that you get declined.  If it’s a special occasion, it doesn’t hurt to volunteer that information either.

4. Hotel mistake? – Sometimes a hotel’s mistake can work to your advantage. Maybe your room wasn’t ready upon check-in, or there was heavy construction causing a sleepless night – you can always address a hotel issue with the management in a nice manner and see if they will do something to compensate for the inconvenience.

5. Where you book matters –  If you’re booking a standard room, a hotel can actually give you a different room just based on the booking source. Ever experience a really bad room close to the hotel’s laundry room when booking on Expedia, only to find that your friend who booked elsewhere paid the same price but got a better room? Blame it on sheer bad luck or the booking source.

6. Loyalty — You will have better chances of a free upgrade if you are loyal to the hotel and provide repeat business. Participate in loyalty programs and start accumulating points, they are usually free to join. It doesn’t hurt at the time of reservation to let them know that you’ve stayed there before either. Hotels know that it costs a lot less to keep a repeat customer happy than it is to acquire a new one, so often times they’ll give special treatment to return customers.

7. Title drop — There aren’t any guarantees, but you may find that title dropping can increase your chances of special treatment and upgrades. Hotels may want to impress you more because they know you’re an important businessperson, someone who can refer new business or have blogging or press power.

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By: Amy Chan

Amy Chan is the Director of Marketing for Kiwi Collection, the world’s largest luxury hotel reviewer. In her spare time, when she's not making mix tapes or up to general do-gooding, she's an avid blogger (with the moniker AmyFabulous), food enthusiast and ‘social-media-lite’ with a column in various print and online publications including The Huffington Post. To see more of her articles, visit Amy Fabulous.

14 Responses

  1. Eurotrip Tips

    These are useful tips. I can’t wait to put them to the test. Next step: flight upgrades.

    Reply
  2. iamthewitch

    I like these tips! There was once I was in a hotel room that had its power supply affected! The whole hotel was out of power for more than half a day, but instead of getting an upgrade, we were give 50% off our rates! Pretty good deal since we were not even in the room most of the time. 🙂

    Reply
  3. andi

    Very useful!!!

    Reply
  4. Misterbobbi

    Obviously tips from someone who has never worked on a hotel reception desk before. It does not matter how early you tryto check in, if anything, the later you try and get an upgrade the more chance you have of actually getting one as by then we are unlikely to get anymore bookings and don’t mind offering an upgrade. If you chance your arm and ask for an upgrade, you most likely won’t get one. Be nice to the receptionist, tll them it’s a special occasion before you arrive. And don’t be demanding. The nicer you are to the receptionists, the nicer they will be to you.

    Reply
    • AmyFabulous

      Misterbobbi,

      Your point on getting an upgrade later on in the day is what I stated in point one. The way I determined this was by speaking to a few front desk workers and also looking at the times I’ve received an upgrade.

      I’ve also politely asked before, and the front desk was lovely and did give me an upgrade, so I think it depends on who you’re dealing with, how you ask and availability.

      Definitely agree on not being demanding – no one wants to do anything nice for someone acting like a diva.

      Reply
  5. Alouise

    As someone who works at a hotel I can say it never hurts to ask. Just be nice about, and know that sometimes it won’t work out. I’ve had people come in last minute, with only one room left to sell, wanting an upgrade. You can’t really upgrade someone if there isn’t a better room available.

    Reply
  6. Jane

    Timing that’s one tip I never heard of, be sure to put it to test very soon=)

    Reply
  7. Lindsey

    Great tips Amy! Looks like one of those paid off for my upcoming Kiwi Collection stay in Istanbul 🙂 Can’t wait to get there!!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      that’s great! Plus Kiwi Collection is a fantastic company to use

      Reply
  8. Dan Collins

    Sweet tips! I’ll be sure to try and use them one day 🙂

    Reply
  9. Shane

    One thing which had worked for me is adding my blog link to my email signature. My blog contains Travel Reviews and I have in the past, especially in New Zealand, got upgrades by promising to add a review of the hotel on my site.

    Reply
  10. Nancy D. Brown

    As a freelance travel writer/blogger and lodging editor, I certainly agree with Amy about joining loyalty programs. In fact, some hotels provide free internet service for loyalty program members, in addition to room upgrades, when available.

    Thanks for sharing your tips, Amy!
    @Nancydbrown on Twitter

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      You won’t say it Nancy, but I will, Omni is one of those brands which offers free WiFi just for joining their free program. Great stuff. Thanks for the comments!

      Reply
  11. Steph / TravelShark

    Great post! We’re definitely using some of these tips the next time we get a hotel room!
    Thanks so much Matt and Amy 🙂

    Reply

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