I’ve always been really jealous of those really jammy people that seem to get their room upgraded, leave hotels drowning in complimentary gifts or just get treated royally. I used to think the only way to get free stuff was to lie – pretend it was your birthday, had a sick relative or you were a raving reporter for Lonely Planet, well it isn’t and to be honest it can make things uncomfortable.
Remember with lying comes responsibility – if you lie about your birthday to get free cake then there is a chance the hotel will have seen your passport and draw attention to you, pictures of your ‘sick’ mum you’re so worried about might show her on Facebook dancing it up in Benidorm last week and saying you’re pregnant to get a quiet room isn’t so believable when you’re downing pina coladas at 9am.
As a travel blogger people think I get lots for free, well I don’t – in fact I’ve never been given so much as a gherkin and I find it a bit cringe to try unless I’m offering an article or promotion in return, however I have learned a few tips from people in the industry about how to get VIP treatment which I thought I’d share.
1. Holiday on a Sunday – Sunday is the slowest day for hotels. By starting your holiday on a Sunday you may find it easier to get upgraded to a better room or suite for free. Sunday stays are also dirt cheap and hotels have extra offers on such as free Sunday lunch or a complimentary drink when you check in.
2. Celebrate everything – ok I know I said ‘don’t lie’ but make a list of birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations and let the hotel know. I can’t stand couples that celebrate their first meet, first kiss, first ‘how’s your father’ until it comes to using it for free stuff on holiday, then suddenly I’m all over those minor-versaries like a cheap suit.
3. Be specific – there is no harm in emailing ahead and asking for what you want. Whether it’s a sea view, a reservation at a restaurant (I always pre book restaurants at all inclusive hotels as they are a nightmare to get in once you arrive); that way if anything does become available you will be first in the queue.
4. Flatter – It’s amazing how an email saying how excited you are about your upcoming holiday, how you would love to know more about the destination etc. really warms a hotel to you. Hotels may seem like faceless places but with personalised service becoming more and more important they will take notes and remember.
5. Say thank you – It goes without saying that you need to be polite during your stay but not treating staff like minions goes a long way, you’ll get a nicer table, better service. If being nice means ‘tipping’ to you then that’s fine but I think courtesy goes further.
6. Don’t forget them when you leave – Send them an email and say what you did and didn’t like about your stay as well as leaving a review. Feedback really helps a company and you will often get invited back or receive a discount on future stays.
7. Dress fancy – I know appearances shouldn’t matter but you are more likely to be allowed to rub shoulders with premier guests if you look the part
8. Strike up conversation about your interests – tell staff what you love whether it’s the gym, certain foods, and drinks and ask advice. People love to help and are likely to offer free trials at the hotel gym, cook you something special or recommend a great tour operator for trips.
9. Make sure they know who you are – Not in THAT way but if you have stayed at sister hotels or been to the country/hotel before then tell them. Loyalty is rewarded and you will often be given a room upgrade or a welcome back gift.
10. Social it – Hotels are realising the power of social media and by tweeting before and during your stay will be really appreciated and you might be rewarded for it.