Insider tips on scoring hotel extras

Hotel upgrades come in all shapes and sizes.

Hotel upgrades come in all shapes and sizes.  (iStock )

Travel deals and upgrades: they come in all shapes and sizes.  

As a seasoned hotel guest and a travel industry veteran, I’ve spent many years learning what makes hoteliers and travel operators tick, and especially how to get on their good side.

Simple tricks, or even how you treat staff, can turn an average stay into something special. 

Here are some of my most tried and true tips on scoring hotel extras.

Make every trip a special occasion, and be sure to let the hotel know 

Whether it’s your first time visiting your destination, a second, third or fourth honeymoon or even your first time at hotel, let the staff know. Either when you booking or before you go (like a week or so out), simply call the hotel and mention that this vacation is unique in some way. Right then and there, the reservation agent should make note of it within your reservation, which could mean anything from a room upgrade to a free bottle of bubbly awaiting your arrival. 

Check in early and always ask for upgrades 

One of my favorite tips is to always ask for upgrades because often the hotel is happy to oblige. In order to really take advantage of this, however, try your best to check in early. Get to the hotel just before 3pm. If you arrive right when check-in opens, there’s a good chance that you can get an upgraded room as there’s more flexibility at that time with room assignment. Plus, it’s in the hotels best interest to ensure their customers are happy, so if you reiterate that this is a special occasion, they’re more likely to give you that upgrade – whether it’s a room on a higher floor, a room with a view or a nicer room type. The worst they can say is, “no,” or that the upgrade comes with a fee, in which case you can make the decision.

Be nice--always

They say that the first impression is a lasting one, and that is especially true when you check into a hotel. While it might seem like an obvious tip, being nice to the hotel staff can go a long way. So, when you’re at the front desk, ask them how their day is going before getting into your reservation. And of course extend that friendliness to other hotel staff during your stay. If you’re seen as the pleasant guest, it will only help your chances of receiving an upgrade or perk you weren’t expecting.

Befriend the hotel’s concierge 

Most hotels offer a concierge service that can be underrated and overlooked. But the concierge can be your best friend, especially if you want something special or if you’re visiting a city for the first time. My advice is to take advantage of these knowledgeable professionals.  They are locals after all! They have the insider’s scoop on everything in the area and can get you tickets to concerts or event, VIP access to clubs, discounts at delicious restaurants and even free access to activities across the city. Don’t forget to tip well if they do.

Bonus tip: Utilize your parking resources 

If you’re visiting a big city like San Francisco, parking can be a pretty penny. Even if you’re using the hotel valet—they’re often run by third parties. My tip? Utilize parking apps such as Best Parking to find a parking garage close by that offers cheaper prices. All you need to do is plug in your location, when you plan on arriving/departing to and from your location, and it will scour the area map for the best parking rates. You can also ask the concierge for pointers on where to park because, (again) they’re locals and can steer you in the right direction.  

Henrik Kjellberg is the president of the Hotwire Group. Every month he provides readers travel information, tips and advice to help them plan a fun, affordable trip.