The biggest benefits of holding mid-to-top tier hotel elite status is complimentary breakfast, suite upgrades, and lounge access. Breakfast and lounge access is harder to deny to elite members since there’s no way the hotel can really tell you they aren’t available – however, hotels love to play games with suite upgrades. There are hotels that go above and beyond and upgrade all elite members and treat them like royalty and then there are other hotels that shouldn’t even belong to the chain if they refuse elite benefits to loyal members.
A suite upgrade for elite members is one of the most important benefits of the hotel stay. A suite provides greater comfort, more amenities, and increased space to work or relax – something that loyal members do appreciate and one of the reasons they might renew their status every year or be loyal to a certain chain. There are a few ways and tips/notes that you should keep in mind to make sure you receive your suite upgrade if you are eligible.
Auto Suite Upgrades Prior to Check-in
The way that all bookings theoretically should work is that on the day of check-in, the hotel should automatically assign you a suite if you are eligible for one, and a standard suite is available. If you are upgraded, you will usually be notified about it in your mobile app of the hotel chain.
When you arrive, you will simply check-in as normal, pay for your stay at the rate you booked for the standard room, but you can enjoy the suite. Note that suites do take longer to clean and if there is an elite member in the suite with late 4PM check-out, you may have to wait a bit for your room to be ready.
No Suite Upgrade Prior to Arrival?
If you are checking your mobile app and you notice that on the day of arrival you have yet to be upgraded to a suite, you can check availability at the hotel by running a dummy search and checking for available suites. Note that top-tier elite members are eligible for complimentary upgrades to standard suites and not premium suites, at select hotel chains. So if you aren’t upgraded it may be that there are only premium suites available, at which point you could inquire about those but an upgrade would be at the discretion of the hotel.
If there is a standard suite available and after checking in you are still not upgraded, you can ask about that suite. What I usually do is say “thank you for the upgrade to the X room (like deluxe or premium), but I see there are still standard suites available, could you please assign me one of those?” – at which point the conversation will go two ways: you will get the suite or they will tell you it is not available.
Suites Available but Hotel Claims Otherwise?
There is a huge variety between different hotels – some upgrade elite members into suites before check-in and other hotels love to play games with suite upgrades and will constantly deny them. There are a few ways you can approach the second situation – usually I start by thanking them if they already upgraded me to a premium room and I will inquire about the standard suite.
Depending on the nature of the conversation, I will let the front desk person know there are still suites available as shown online. Then they will either type away at their computer checking the availability or they could deny you right away – “we are sold out”. It all depends on how comfortable you are with pushing the suite upgrade request if a suite is showing as available. There are times when the availability is phantom and the hotel indeed might be sold out of suites, but most of the time, the availability is accurate.
You could push further and ask for a manager or continue to stand your ground with the agent checking you in. Chances are if they tell you right away that a suite is not available but the website shows it as being available, you are probably going to have to put up a bit of a fight.
Escalating Your Request for Suite Upgrades
If I am still being denied a suite at this point, sometimes I just let it go and probably won’t stay at the hotel again. Other times when the stay really matters to me, I push further and ask for a manger or even get in touch with the hotel chain directly via social channels. If a suite really is available and it is clear to the manager or other front desk people that I understand my benefits, they might finally assign me the suite or continue to push back.
If a manager pushes back and says no suites available (even though the website is showing availability), I will probably get in touch with the hotel chain. Their social media is usually good about getting in touch with the hotel and giving them a reality check as to what should happen if a suite is indeed available. Finally at the end, it could still go two ways – finally you get the suite or hotel says still not available, in which case, there probably isn’t much more that can be done.
All in All
Suite upgrades for elite members sometimes have to be a fight – and it really should not be this way as loyal elite members stay with a hotel chain a certain number of nights every year and spend a significant amount of money so they should really receive their benefits without having to fight for them.
There are amazing hotels and there are hotels where “no” is the answer to every question. It really comes down to the hotel in the end as to how they treat elite members – some will go above and beyond and others won’t care that you hold top tier status.