We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

Toronto, Canada
4 posts
Save Topic
Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

This is more of a statement than a question.

I've quite a few people ask this question and as a front desk agent for a luxury hotel the answer is yes, absolutely.

Many people don't understand that we delegate where you sleep at night, we can move inventory as we see fit and complimentary upgrade at our discretion, but let's unpack some common misconceptions.

"the best way to get an upgrade is to smile and ask for one".

FALSE - when you go for dinner at a restaurant, do you say "I've never been here before, is there any free deserts available?" or "I was wondering if you had any free appetizers available?". No, of course not. Most agents will tell you no, but you may get lucky sometimes. It's the most annoying question though because what did you do to deserve an upgrade? Show up?

"The front desk staff will lose their job if you pay them cash for an upgrade"

FALSE - hotel management even admits to stating that they would give upgrades for cash. They're rooms, not retail items.

"check in early and you'll get an upgrade"

FALSE - The hours of operation in the hotel industry seem to be negotiable to some. They're not. Checking in early and asking for an upgrade is quite possibly the #1 way to not get one. Not only are you showing up before check in time wanting your room, you're also asking for an upgrade. That's like showing up to your dinner reservation 20 minutes early and asking for the best seat in the house.

"you can pay the front desk and get an upgrade"

TRUE - 110% true. Every agent I work with, every hotel I've worked at, every front desk will tell you the same thing. If you paid me $20 I would ensure you had the best room within my power. The agent delegates your room and can block it and prevent it from being moved, usually with no questions asked. We have guests that will pay the agent every time they stay and they've had an upgrade every stay for the past 10 years.

"my attitude can impact my upgrade"

TRUE - I've had guests check in who were complimentary upgraded to a private floor due to a high rate and because they checked in early, refused to speak, tossed their credit card on the counter (instead of handing to the agent like a human), and acted entitled, we had downgraded them from their complimentary upgrade and put them in a noisier room while making them wait 4 hours until check in time. This guest didn't even realize that they had just lost a $800 upgrade due to his attitude.

"if I'm nice I'll get an upgrade"

TRUE-ISH - this is a iffy one. It depends on the agent. Usually if there is space and your talkative and nice you'll get a nice room. Money is always a sure fire way. Agents appreciate nice guests, making eye contact and talking. Things like handing your card over instead of throwing it can make a difference too.

How to give a tip?

Easiest way, stop by earlier, don't ask to check in, ask to check your bag while you go out. Ask for directions for anywhere, after the agent shows you, compliment their service and tip them. $20-$50 will get you very very far as of these upgrades are $100+/night, $20 is fraction of the cost.

Either that or just give it to them.

So from an agent at a luxury hotel, yes it works and will for every hotel.

18 replies to this topic
California
Destination Expert
for Las Vegas
Level Contributor
45,457 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

If you were to post this on the Las Vegas Forum you would be shocked by the number and types of replies you would receive. This topic comes up every 2-3 days on that forum. Whether to tip desk clerks and how much to obtain a "free" upgrade.

You have to realize we are talking about hotels with 3000-7000 rooms, and a number of different room classes.

Actually I would love to see you post this on the Las Vegas forum. It might help a few posters there, and maybe even give you a look at another POV.

But be aware that the Las Vegas forum is very active. You literally might receive 50 or more replies and/or questions today. And a lot more tomorrow, when more people return to computers after their weekend.

Thanks for your interesting post.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel, Food and Travel
Level Contributor
28,021 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

>>>So from an agent at a luxury hotel, yes it works and will for every hotel<<<

Every hotel.

I also hear these claims frequently, and it never ceases to amaze me how these front desk agents seem to have this worldly knowledge of what happens on the other side of the world. Much like the open use of discount codes, the claims that 'it will work everywhere' are just laughable.

Simply put - what works and maybe accepted liberally in one region, does not make it a common practice in another.

Like tipping - so many assume because it's expected in one region, it's the same in another. So in other words, it's not that these front desk agents have worked in hotels all over the world, but because it's how it works in their little neck of the woods, it's assumed it will work elsewhere.

>>>They're rooms, not retail items<<<

LOL. Since it's not retail items, the guest should just have it for free - or for whatever they want to tip the agent. There are some regions around the world, where this sort of behaviour will make you lose your job very quickly, and in some others, will land you in jail.

There's this thing called 'selling to room type', that is closely watched by the owners and executive management. Providing upgrades for no revenue profit, is no different to giving something away for free - the same as theft. So again, why not just give the room for free, and pocket whatever they want to give you as a tip?

>>>hotel management even admits to stating that they would give upgrades for cash<<<

And this is the funniest clincher - the clutching at straws that nobody wants to address

If this was true and it's such an open thing that the management knowingly allow, then answer me this.

Why the need for a hint on 'How to Give a Tip' - why the need to be secretive or discreet? Why cant a guest just go to any front desk agent and slap down a $20 and say "I want an upgrade"?

Does it happen? Absolutely. In many locations around the world where people work for peanuts, there always a chance staff are gaming the system.

Does this mean it happens and will work anywhere as claimed? LOL no, but by all means people can go try it

Edited: 13 August 2018, 11:47
Toronto, Canada
4 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

Granted, stating that it will work everywhere was a bit presumptuous. I see that you're from Australia where tipping isn't as widely practiced or practiced at all.

However, you stating that giving away an upgrade is the same as stealing? If so then why would giving someone a complimentary upgrade not be stealing?

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel, Food and Travel
Level Contributor
28,021 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

>>>However, you stating that giving away an upgrade is the same as stealing? If so then why would giving someone a complimentary upgrade not be stealing?<<<

There’s a vast difference.

One is costed internally and account for, with potential to gain hundreds of thousands in future business. The other are losses not accounted for and doesn’t do anything for the hotel or owner.

Management endorsed/authorised upgrades are for the purpose of the hotel gaining something. Guest recovery, win corporate accounts, courtesy to executive management within the industry, courtesy to high profile clientele, reward high repeat spenders.

Random upgrades given out by front desk agents are losses that *serious* hotels calculate with ‘true costing’. A desk agent giving away an upgrade that may have a published rate difference of say $100 for a $20 tip, is not an $80 loss, it’s actually a $100 loss to the business.

Just because a hotel may have 5000 rooms, it doesn’t mean it’s meaningless. Say that happens 20 times a day. That’s a potential 3/4 million dollar sales loss a year, taking into account that if the desk agent made all the efforts, half of that could have been a genuine upgrade sale. Some of the best hotel staff have better than 50% conversion rate with upgrade sales.

So not, not even remotely similar.

And you didn’t address the matter about discretion.

I’ll ask again. If this is normal practice that happens so frequently/commonly and management know, why all the secrecy and discretion?

Edited: 13 August 2018, 19:25
Singapore, Singapore
Destination Expert
for Food and Travel
Level Contributor
4,526 posts
409 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

I believe it is considered an insult if you do that in Japan!

1 post
Save Reply
6. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

if you read his post he specifically addresses the matter of discretion so that the guest doesnt feel awkward. He specifically said

"Easiest way, stop by earlier, don't ask to check in, ask to check your bag while you go out. Ask for directions for anywhere, after the agent shows you, compliment their service and tip them. $20-$50 will get you very very far as of these upgrades are $100+/night, $20 is fraction of the cost.

Either that or just give it to them."

The last sentence is key.

Please read the post fully before posting

Edited: 14 August 2018, 21:42
Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel, Food and Travel
Level Contributor
28,021 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

Creative. But it’s garbage.

It’s got nothing to do with the guest feeling at unease. The hint is designed to mask the payment for an upgrade, so that it appears to other persons nearby, that they’ve received a tip for advice.

Again, why can’t any guest openly ask whether they can tip $20 for an upgrade?

Ok let’s make it simple. If a guest emailed the hotel and asked them whether they can get an upgrade for $20, what would the hotel reply?

I read the post just fine, and really this has nothing to do with Food & Travel

Edited: 14 August 2018, 21:49
Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
25,572 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

What's this got to do with food?

SWT

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
25,572 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

Devon S - are you the OP's alter ego?!

SWT

Lewes, United...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
25,572 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?

I've travelled all over the world. I've stayed in the most basic hotels and I've stayed in some of the world's most luxurious hotels (though admittedly rarely on my own dollar!).

Have I had free upgrades.

Absolutely, quite a few times.

Have I ever asked for one.

Never.

How did I snag them? A variety of ways and circumstances, as it happens.

Being polite may well have been useful. Walking up to the front desk at the right time may also have been useful. Having high level status with the hotel chain has certainly ensured upgrades (but those chains always say that that's subject to availability for obvious reasons). Because the hotel was nearly empty as I travelled at a quiet time of year has also reaped rewards. Being given the front of house service director's name got me an upgrade at the Bellagio once!!! Owing to an admin error so the room I had booked being unavailable got me an upgrade to the Presidential Suite once.

Bottom line. Stay in a lot of hotels over a long, long lifetime and these things can happen!

SWT

Reply to: Will tipping the front desk get you an upgrade?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions