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How To Get a Room Upgrade in Vegas at Check-In

June 19, 2009 at 1:45 PM | by | ()

You've just arrived in Vegas, baby, Vegas and you've bypassed the tortuously long taxi line at McCarran because you took our tip to Twitter the cab just after you landed and have just reached your hotel. (Sorry, the Twitter cab answers tweets no more.) Now, you're waiting in the check-in line at your hotel and you've got one thing on your mind. No, it's not boobs, booze or blackjack. It's an upgrade.

Upgrades are a fickle thing in the hospitality business. We've all heard the stories of someone slipping the front desk agent at $10, $20 or $50 and then getting an upgrade to a fabulous room or suite facing the street/ocean/park/bay or in Las Vegas, the all-important Strip. Still, that only worked when the hotel had availability or when the front desk clerk was in an especially good mood.

Before the economy plummeted, when Americans were spending money left and right on vacations, getting an upgrade at check-in was rare since hotels could command and receive their premium rates. But in Las Vegas in 2009 when thousands of hotel rooms are still open every night, those previously unattainable upgrades are in reach again. Here's how to get 'em.

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.

Archived Comments:

best room upgrade available in the hotel

I'm a front desk agent or "hotel clerk" in a 1200 room hotel in San Francisco's Union Square. Getting a simple free upgrade is one thing but getting upgraded to the best room or suite that is available in the hotel for "free" means you know things that only the employees know. Of coarse there are many factors behind the scenes that make upgrades possibile, but for the most part, if the hotel isn't SOLD OUT then you have a chance. The biggest set back is whether there is a shortage on the highest category rooms and the manager put a STOP SELL on those rooms. This means these rooms are not available even if you pay the highest Rack rate. Before you ask for the free upgrade, ask what's available, then apply your skills of sweet talking. There's a great info site out there that gets into more detail called luxury-hotel-secrets.com

Tips and Tricks

I used to live in Vegas, worked in hospitality and have done front desk, to night audit, to front desk management.  What I recommend is giving the front desk an agent to upgrade, along with that tip.  Example, if checking in as a couple, look as in love as possible, hugging, and say, "We're here to get married!!!"  Then slip that $50.  The hotel, interested in giving the best experience and customer service ever, has probably empowered their employees to offer upgrades for these purposes.  Unfortunately, a bad mood can prevent that upgrade from happening.  That's when the $50 comes into play to turn that frown upside down!  Not checking in as a happy couple?  Even a single person can say, "I'm here to get married but want to set up some rose petals (something sappy) before s/he arrives.  By any chance, are their any [suite/strip view/whatever] upgrades available?"  As you are asking, be handing that credit card with a $50 wrapped around it.  Now you have taken care of the front desk agent and given them the motivation to go in to Opera/LMS/SMS (whatever their property management system is) and type in a note:  Upgraded guest to suite per good customer service, couple is here to get married.

Best of luck!

PS:  Sometimes it is okay to tell a little fib.

Tip your maid

if you want a clean room and a maid that will give your room the extra touch, find out who she is, and commplement her.

Here is a Sure Bet

A program well worth your efforts is offered by (CET) aka. Bally's, Caesars, Harrahs, Flamingo, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Quad, and Rio! These comps are spent like cash from a players card, which is used like a debit card, for rooms, food, shows, and even Casino free play, A person can even fund entry into the WSOP! My last trip I redeemed $140! I'm collecting for my 2014 vacation, I'm up to $80 in 3 months!

To start, first go to> bit.ly/YuuhlV
once there get a TR players card.
(If you already have a TR card skip this)

Next go to Vegas Rewards facebook page, www.facebook.com/groups/vegasrewards

All the Social Rewards details are spelled out there!

Good Luck in Vegas!

Beware of 3rd party sites

Dunno if this is true, but a Caesar's reservation person said that they won't guarantee a 3rd party reservation because they overbook.Furthermore, many hotels in Vegas won't price match 3rd party sites like Expedia or Travelocity.