NEW YORK (MainStreet) — During the recession, travelers could have walked into most hotels and motels in the country with a reservation for a standard room and easily talked their way into an upgrade, so desperate were these companies for customers, but that has changed in the past year or two as consumer demand for travel has picked up.
“It’s not as good a climate now for hotel upgrades as it was a couple years ago at the peak of the recession,” said Bob Diener, co-founder of Hotels.com and Getaroom.com and a hotel industry expert.
Hotels today generally have more customers on any given night than they did in 2008 or 2009, and therefore have fewer available rooms to offer travelers looking to score nicer lodging when they arrive and get more bang for their buck. But even though nicer rooms are harder to come by these days, there are still plenty of tried-and-true ways to talk your way into a free room upgrade.
Sweet Talk the Front Desk
The simplest way to go about asking for a room upgrade is, of course, approaching the front desk, but as Diener explains, there is a right way and wrong way to do this. You shouldn’t be too aggressive in how you approach the person working behind the desk. Nor should you be bashful about your request.
“The front desk wants to please you, and in the hotel business, they really appreciate people who are friendly, so the best tactic is just to be nice,” Diener said. He recommends going so far as offering the hotel attendant some candy or sweets while chitchatting with him or her before asking politely whether there are rooms available.
The exception to this tactic is when there is something actually wrong with your room, in which case Diener argues it is the hotel’s job to go out of its way to to please you and not the other way around.
Leverage Your Online Presence
The Internet has given consumers new leverage in their retail dealings, including with the travel industry, by providing nearly anyone with a virtual soapbox from which to complain or praise. Just consider the recent incident of a group of soldiers who were charged $2,800 extra for their baggage by Delta and posted a video to YouTube to complain, which forced Delta to quickly change its policy.
In the same vein, travelers can reach out to hotel management and offer to praise the company on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook or on review sites such as Yelp if they are given a better room.
“If you call the reservation department after you book a reservation, ask to speak with a general manager on duty and tell them you’d like to get a little more information about the hotel, that you’re really excited to stay there, and by the way, that you’re planning to write up a nice review of the place if you can get a better room,” Diener said.