Instead of settling for another beige box when you check into a hotel on your next business trip, use these strategies to score a better, bigger, more luxurious room.
- Always ask. Never sit back and let a computer or a front desk clerk choose your room for you. When you check in, ask for something specific, such as a great view, morning sun, a king bed or a room near (or far away from) the elevator. By doing so, you avoid getting stuck with the room no one else asked for.
- Show your stripes. Are you a frequent or returning guest? Let the person checking you in know that. Mention something you really liked or disliked about your last room, and request something different this time.
- Don't settle. If you get to your room and something is wrong--it's too small, a light doesn't work, the view is bad, the neighbors are noisy or it smells awful--call the front desk immediately, and let them know you're coming back down for a reassignment. Your next room will most likely be better. (This is especially true at big downtown hotels that have a variety of room types and sizes.)
- Extended stay? If you're staying at the hotel for more than four or five days, or plan to return frequently over an extended period of time, write the hotel manager a note a week or two before you arrive. Let him or her know you intend to stay for a long period of time and would like a price break or a space-available upgrade. When you check in, ask to say hello to the manager, who may have already marked your reservation for an upgrade.
- Pay up. If trying to get something for nothing doesn't seem to work at the check--in desk, ask how much it might cost to upgrade to a suite or a room on the concierge level. If there's availability, an extra $10 or $20 per night could be worth it.
Chris McGinnis, travel correspondent for CNN Headline News, is author ofThe Unofficial Business Travelers' Pocket Guide.