The way to make a holiday extra special is definitely to get an upgrade to an amazing room. There is nothing that sets the tone for a well-deserved break quite like stepping into your hotel room and discovering that you were upgraded to a suite. Today I will share with you some of the techniques you could use to get upgraded. When it comes down to it, it’s often just about luck. The trick is to get luck working in your favor. I’ll give you an insider’s perspective.
The first thing to remember is to not be THAT guest with a dark cloud hanging over their head. After a couple of weeks on the job, any Front Desk person can spot this type of guest a mile away. I know many Guest Service staff who, after a long day on their feet, may be tempted to send you to the room in the next zip code (yes, that one with the flickering light with no cellphone service) if you flash any hint of negativity their way. They are just as tired as you are when you arrive late at night, five minutes before their shift is about to end. Always be as polite and friendly as possible. Guest Service staff are people too and are pleased to serve you. They are in the people-business and love interacting with guests. They are eager to please and feel great when their guests greet them the next morning looking happy, rested and enjoying their holiday.
As in any negotiation, you should always look for a win-win. Here are some techniques:
The first technique:Just ask for the upgrade. As easy as this may sound, it often works. I worked with a great manager who often told the Front Office staff to “Be the hero”. It really energizes workers when they can make someone’s day. I remember once in a shopper’s report that the shopper was upgraded when she checked in and the Guest Service agent told them: “….just don’t tell anyone!”, which was duly noted, to the entertainment of all of us who read the report. She was rewarded for her guest service.
If you have stayed at a property before, let the Front Desk agent know. History of stays normally become inaccessible after three years. If you have a favorite room, ask for it, even if it is a higher grade room than you booked. If a guest asks for a specific room the agent knows that they are going to be satisfied with the room and won’t require room moves.
If a new trainee is training with a supervisor, pick them. Your patience can pay off well. Show empathy with a phrase like: “I remember when I had to train” and prepare to be a little patient. This will put the trainee at ease and the supervisor will be grateful that they finally have a guest that understands. For your patience they will generally reward you with something, without having to ask.
Take a notepad with you and write things down – even if you are just doodling. The mere suspicion of you being a mystery shopper can really lift service in the industry. Guest Service managers and staff are often incentivized on performance on Mystery Shopper’s reports. Keep them guessing and allow them the opportunity to practice for when the real shopper arrives! This works best when you book directly through the reservations department and not through a third-party, (as mystery shoppers check the performance of Reservation staff too) and when you are not tied with a group.
If you check in with a manager/supervisor, you are ahead of the game. They are the parties that can bend the rules. Smile, comment on something. A good way is to relate to another property, for example: “That chandelier looks like the one at the Four Seasons / Ritz Carlton in …” Hotel staff want to be proud of where they are working. This shows that you are discerning and you think the best of their property. Mention something innocent and positive from Tripadvisor and be sure to mention their name: ” Kate, on Tripadvisor they mentioned that this place had a great pool!” Now they know that you know their name and that you know about Tripadvisor.com. This is especially important when speaking with management staff, who make a career out of the hospitality business. When Front-of-House Managers are interviewed, Tripadvisor reviews from their last property inevitably comes up.
Ask if they are full. Hotels are often full for only one or two nights and if you are staying for longer you could snag a great room after the busy night. You can offer to stay in a lower class room for a night and then have them upgrade you for the remaining nights of your stay.
If you are staying for a special occasion, let the reservationist know. Hotel staff will generally do as much as they can to make your stay special. Note, however, not to use this technique if it is not true. Every Front-of-House person at a resort has heard the “it’s our Honeymoon” line.
In all these interactions know that people who get into the hospitality business are very personable and eager to please. Put everything in your favor by being friendly and acknowledging good service. Your extra special, amazing room with spectacular views might be just around the corner.