Tips, Tricks, and Hacks to Make the Most of Your Elite Hotel Status!
Elite hotel status and its perks seem like a dream come true for frequent travelers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads. However, in practice you may not get all of the amenities, upgrades, and perks you may expect. Here's how we get the most of our elite hotel status using these tips, tricks, and hacks!
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Obtaining elite hotel status with one hotel brand is often a goal of many frequent, long-term travelers and digital nomads alike. Of course, not all elite statuses are equal, and perks vary by brand and elite tier level.
Elite hotel status with each brand varies in the benefits assigned but for those who travel frequently the perks can seem like the end-all-be-all of an enjoyable and luxurious stay. Most hotel’s elite status will give you access to upgraded rooms, welcome gifts, and free breakfast. Some hotels offer access to executive lounges and dedicated floors. Plus, you unlock higher earning potential for reward points and sometimes get bonus points just for checking in.
With all of that said it's easy to think that getting elite hotel status with Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott/SPG, IHG, Radisson, etc., is the key to unlocking a fabulous stay with room upgrades, additional amenities, and perks some people pay high dollar for. It also seems inherent that the status would be recognized and highly respected by the hotel staff and management, therefore making special requests for your digital nomad and long-term traveler needs a bit easier to get fulfilled because you expect your brand loyalty to be appreciated and recognized.
Tip: Don’t just make the most of your elite hotel status, but also make the most of your reward points! See how to maximize your redemption value by booking lower category hotels. Plus, we make it easy to find category 1, 2, and 3 Hilton, Radisson, Marriott/SPG, and Hyatt hotels with interactive maps!
So, What’s Elite Hotel Status Really Like?
We were impressed by the perks that elite hotel status would get us and just a bit by the glitz of it of all. We knew that the advertised benefits would make our travel lifestyle that much easier (upgraded internet, upgraded rooms, complementary breakfast, etc.). So, we went after status with each hotel brand (via status matches and challenges) we stay with and eventually achieved the highest elite tier with several recognizable hotel brands. Unfortunately, what we were told we should get out of elevated status and what we actually experienced were different stories entirely.
It’s unfortunate, but the hotels weren’t in the wrong for not giving us the perks we expected with our elite status. The terms clearly state that it’s up to the hotels' discretion to give us access to many of the listed perks such as a suite upgrade or an executive floor placement. Plus, we can’t help but think that it also has to do with the training and current disposition of the person checking us in.
We knew this going into it, but ultimately we were optimistic that the hotel(s) would want to acknowledge our elite hotel status and brand loyalty. More often than not though, our elite status wasn’t even mentioned unless we brought it up. Of which we interpret (correctly or incorrectly?) as a lack of training or an indifference to our elite status and therefore a lack of knowledge or desire to provide an improved experience and additional amenities for our stay.
Tip: One of our favorite reward programs is Hilton Honors (just check out our article The Ultimate Mattress Run | Hacking Hotel Rewards for Free Rooms with Hilton! to see why). If you haven't signed up yet, you're in luck. Sign up through our link and get a head start with 2,500 Hilton Honors bonus points (awarded after your first completed stay, before December 15, 2018). That's halfway to a free night at a category one hotel!
How to Make the Most of Elite Hotel Status
We’ve learned that if we’re passive about our elite hotel status and check-in as if we’re any other guest, we’ll likely be treated as any other guest. There are certainly exceptions though, as we’ve stayed at hotels which immediately welcomed us, thanked us for our elite status and for choosing them, and gave us upgrades and amenities without us asking (kudos to the DoubleTree in Warsaw, the DoubleTree in Bratislava, the Le Meridien in Cairo, and the Four Points by Sheraton in Brussels!).
On the other hand, if we arrive and our status isn’t acknowledged and we haven’t been given an upgrade or other amenities, we’ve learned a few ways to go about increasing the likelihood of receiving them. Using these tactics will vary depending on your comfort level and understanding of the terms of each program, but they’re completely acceptable practices.
Here’s what we do:
Attitude is Everything
We always put on a big smile and engage in friendly conversation. Even if we've had a long day and are tired, a good attitude can make all the difference. What we've experienced in all facets of life, including checking in to our hotel, is that having a positive attitude and respecting the person on the other side of the counter goes a long way. People are often willing to do what they can to help you out.
Mentioning Your Status at Check-In
As soon as you begin the check-in process, mention in conversation that you’re glad to be there and that you’re looking forward to experiencing the amenities for elite status holders (e.g. Marriott Platinum Elite, Hilton Diamond, etc.). Dropping your status in conversation is sometimes enough to get the clerk to remember that you’re eligible for additional attention and perks.
Mention that you know it’s not always the case, but if they give a welcome gift in the room, you’re really looking forward to it. We use this as an opportunity to ask if they can make a note on our reservation that we’d prefer fruit over a sugary dessert.
Specify Your Choice
If there’s a choice of receiving points, breakfast, or a gift, and you haven’t been asked which you’d prefer, mention your preference. We find this perk is often over looked at check-in and a simple reminder is helpful.
If complimentary breakfast, upgraded high-speed internet access, water bottles, etc. are a perk of your elite status with the hotel, confirm them at check-in.
Politely Inquire About a Room Upgrade
Ask if they were able to give you a room upgrade. This is a non-confrontational way of letting them know that you’d really appreciate an upgrade. Additionally, if you know the type of room you’re eligible to be upgraded to (top tier status holders can sometimes be upgraded to a Jr. Suite or higher) you can ask if you were upgraded to that type of room.
Ask Directly for a Room Upgrade
If the clerk says they can’t upgrade you for whatever reason, there are still a few tactics you can use:
Check the hotel’s website ahead of time and see what types of rooms are listed as available for the nights of your stay. If they tell you they’re full you can politely show them that their online booking inventory says they aren’t.
If they say that an upgrade isn’t available for your entire stay, offer to move into the upgraded room at a later date. For example, if you have a reservation for five days, offer to move into the upgraded room on day three of five.
If the hotel is full you can point out that a standard room is more likely be booked than an expensive suite. Therefore upgrading you to a suite and freeing up a standard room would be more likely to increase revenue for the hotel.
At one point, we had a hotel tell us that a suite was too valuable to give to us for free for our entire eight night stay. We mentioned that we’d be willing to stay in the suite for a shorter time and that it was important to us because we were consultants on ‘workcations’ and the suite offered a larger workspace. We were kind and persistent and in the end the room manager offered to move us the same day and for the duration of our stay!
Is Elite Hotel Status Worth It for the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
Earning elite hotel status looks great and should be great, but in our experience, it sadly hasn’t measured up. If the amenities listed were guaranteed, we think it would definitely be worth it for frequent travelers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads.
We’d even venture to say that being acknowledged and appreciated as an elite status guest, even without receiving upgrades and additional amenities, would go a long way to make it worth it.
As digital nomads and long-term travelers, we live and work from our hotel rooms, therefore we have unique needs. So, when a hotel appreciates our stay with them, recognizes our elite status, and our requests for amenities and services are easily received and filled, it goes a long way with us.
However, since many of the advertised perks for elite hotel status aren’t guaranteed and in practice they seem to be hit or miss (more miss than hit), we’re not sure it’s worth it. We’d venture to say that we have a better success rate because we’re assertive and ask for the perks that we’re eligible to receive but in our opinion this shouldn’t be necessary.
The tactics outlined here can be employed not only for receiving elite status benefits at hotels, but also with airlines, rental companies, cruise lines, etc.
Based on our experience, if you aren’t able to be assertive and employ the tactics above, then it’s unlikely to be worth it. The success rate of getting the advertised perks of your elite hotel status probably wouldn’t justify the extra time, effort, and money it would take to earn the status.
On the other hand, employing a mix of the tactics above, in our experience increased our success in receiving the advertised perks of our elite hotel status. So much so, that we’d say it’s worth going after elite hotel status (via brand loyalty, status matching, credit card spend, etc.), as long as your willing to put in the extra work at check-in.