We spoke with a front desk agent at one of Las Vegas' most reputable resorts who gave us the lowdown on getting an upgrade in Sin City at check-in. These tips will help you get an upgrade if you come to Vegas occasionally and you don't do a lot of heavy gambling. Still if you gamble at all, make sure to join the casino's players' rewards program. Depending on how much you can gamble you can get free stuff ("comps") ranging from buffet passes to show tickets to yes, free rooms.
1. All You Have To Do is Ask
Slipping the front desk agent a $20 can help you get a better room, our friend Mr. B says. After all, the agents are the ones who decide where your room is actually located (near the elevator, at the end of the hall, up high or overlooking the parking lot.)
But again, with so many rooms open in Vegas these days, to get a true upgrade all you have to do is ask. Several hotels, especially on the cheaper end like The Luxor or The Excalibur will let you upgrade to a suite for $25-$50 at check-in. The risk, of course, is that you don't know whether that suite will be available at the time of check-in. But when it does, you could get a real bargain. Mr. B says he's seen guests upgraded to suites for 50 to 75 percent off of the original price.
2. Be Specific
Room upgrades vary in definition from hotel to hotel and from check-in desk to check-in desk. When you say upgrade, you might mean "bigger room" but according to the front desk agent "upgrade" could simply mean "higher floor" or a room that's in better condition than the others. When you ask for an upgrade, specify what you are looking for, whether it's a room with a view of the Bellagio fountains or suite with one and half baths.
3. Be Prepared To Pay a Bit More
According to Mr. B, most hotels still have a fixed upgrade fee for their suites that's often more that $25 or $50 and could be as high as $100. You'll get a better deal if you book your room on sites like Hotwire, Travelocity or Expedia which are already selling cheaper rooms than the hotels. That way when you ask for a suite upgrade at check-in and the upgrade fee is $100, you'll be out less money than the person who booked a regular room price on the hotel's site and upgraded at check-in. Or the person who actually paid $600 for the suite to begin with.
4. Timing is Everything
Getting an upgrade on a Friday or Saturday night in Vegas is always going to be difficult. You will have better luck if you check in during the week (Monday-Wednesdays are the best days) or during a slower time in the year like July and August and right after New Year's Eve.
5. Learn From Others
It's worth it to do some research before you go. The VegasMessageBoard has entire thread devoted to the "$20 Trick" where people have shared their experiences slipping a front desk clerk a $20 tip. Over at FrontDeskTip.com, people detail their successes and failures getting upgrades at Vegas hotels including which clerk helped them (female or male and their estimated ages) and what types of room they ended up with. And it can't hurt to follow your own friends' trips in Vegas through their Facebook and Twitter status updates. If they get an upgrade, pump them for info on how exactly it went down.
Just remember, the front desk agent needs a legitimate reason to explain why a guest was upgraded. This will go into the hotel's computer system and a valid explanation is required. "The guest asked nicely" or "The girl was hot" or "The dude tipped me" are not valid reasons and the front desk agent could lose his or her job. So be prepared to bring a little extra upgrading cash with you. Or else, do what most of Vegas visitors do---party all night. You'll be too hungover to notice your room anyways.