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JLeslie's avatar

Do you tip hotel reception when you check in hoping to get a better room?

Asked by JLeslie (65568points) June 28th, 2013

I’ve heard that tipping can get you an upgrade, but I have never done it. I was wondering if it works at the moderate hotels, or if it is just something seen at the higher end establishments.

If you have done it, how exactly does it work? Do you slip the tip as soon as you arrive? What’s the etiquette?

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15 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

No, I have an Elite card that automatically empowers me to ask for an upgrade. When there was a question a couple of years ago, I asked for an upgrade and was told nothing was available. I later found out there was an upgrade available, and was given a credit for the cost of my room when I complained in writing to the company.

Ron_C's avatar

I never heard of doing that. I have a million points with Holiday Inn and with Marriott and get upgraded automatically. There really isn’t much difference except you might get a lunch bag with snacks and water..

Some years, I’ve stayed in hotels more that at home. I don’t care as long as the room is clean and quiet and the bathroom works.

janbb's avatar

Would never occur to me. It seems sleazy somehow.

JLeslie's avatar

I wouldn’t expect it to bump someone else, that would make me very uncomfortable, but if an upgraded room was going to be empty otherwise. I am silver status with Marriott, basically their first level of their elite levels. I don’t think that gets you upgrades automatically, but the staff is always very nice in helping get a location in the hotel I will be happy with. But, even before I was silver they pretty much did that for me.

I saw a show that talked about tipping reception, and also that they make notes about customers on your profile. I don’t remember which hotel chain it was.

There is a big difference to me between getting a basic room or a suite. Also, an upgrade can mean a better view or a balcony. Sometimes I pay for the suite, it depends on why I am travelling, but when using free certificates or points, sometimes the suite isn’t an option. Like I will be staying at a Residence Inn in a couple of weeks for free and only the studio can be assigned to the certificate. However, I am staying at a different Residence Inn in Oct where I was able to reserve the suite. If $10 would get me the suite with ocean view in a couple weeks I might consider it. The person who helped me with reservations said there were many rooms available.

But, I am uncomfortable trying it if it is atypical at those hotels. I also admit, I kind of resent it if it actually is a custom. But, might be willing to play the game on occassion when the room really matters to me.

The hotel industry asks for tips at every turn. Wanting to take my luggage for me, insisting on valet parking, tip the maid, tip the waiters, tip for bringing me extra towels, etc.

bkcunningham's avatar

The times I have gotten great upgraded rooms were purely by chance. A couple of times I arrived a few hours before check-in and politely asked if my room was by chance ready and I was surprised with fantastic upgrades because my room was not yet available. If you pay then in a way you are really paying for the more expensive room and not really tipping.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Funny you mention that because next week we will be arriving at the hotel by 11:00 am, and I was just thinking maybe I would get lucky and get early check in. If an upgrade is thrown in that would be great! I would have paid for a suite if the price difference was not so extreme at this hotel. It isn’t the Residence Inn, it is a different reservation. We almost never arrive early to hotels.

flo's avatar

Tip is a bribe to have someone do something they shouldn’t do, or not do something they should so it is at the expense of another person.

rojo's avatar

I had a brother-in-law who would not check into a hotel/motel without asking for an upgrade. He said he figured it never hurt to ask and the worst they could do was say no.

He claims he was successful in getting one about 60% of the time. Don’t know how true the percentages are but I know he did succeed from time to time.

He didn’t tip to do this, he just did it as soon as he arrived.

marinelife's avatar

No, never. They are white collar workers. Tipping is a no no.

Gabby101's avatar

I have read articles where tipping the front desk person is suggested for an upgrade, but the person giving the suggestion was a front desk person and I was suspicious that he was just trying to get tips for doing his job.

I would prefer just to be friendly and ask if there are any upgrades available than to tip for it. I would guess it’s pretty tough in those hotels that have robust VIP programs though. I would think they would save the goodies for their guests with a lot of points – like the airlines.

jca's avatar

I usually have a reservation ahead of time, and it never occurs to me to ask for an upgrade. Usually I am reserved in a type of room that will be satisfactory, and most of the large chains have decent rooms (Doubletree, Marriott, Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn, Best Western, Crowne Plaza, Hilton). I travel for work a lot and the chains we stay in (Hilton, Marriott) have good rooms, nice beds, large TV’s, granite vanities. I may throw a few dollars at the maid and believe me, it’s amazing how they usually start jumping thru hoops to bring you more shampoo, coffee, whatever you want for just a few bucks.

JLeslie's avatar

I would hope the front desk assigns the best rooms first within the category booked. Meaning, if I book a standard king bed room, I would hope out of the 50 rooms that fit the bill, they are assigning the best ones first, first come first serve. But, then they have these rewards programs and maybe they assign by status, and even if you come in at 11:00 at night, the platinum member has the best location. I know marriott holds aside rooms for platinum members, because they hate to ever turn away a platinum member if they need a last minute booking. If there is a waiting list, the hotels don’t necessarily go in order, but go platinum first. I went into a Residence Inn practically begging for a room, and she swore me to secrecy because she had platinum members on a list. I don’t know if she was trying to tell me she did me a grand favor or really did bump me ahead when she shouldn’t. She did give me a reduced rate, it was a bad situation, and I am very grateful she squeezed me into the hotel that night.

FYI: I’m not going to try tipping the front desk, it still makes me too uncomfortable. I googled a little and there is conflicting information out there about it. Similar to tipping the host at a restaurant, which I never do.

bkcunningham's avatar

You don’t have to check-in at the check-in time. They will hold your luggage for you, @JLeslie, and have it in your room when your room is ready. That way you can get your day started and not wait until the afternoon to get checked in and get your trip started.

Here’s something to think about. We went on a cruise a few years back. We booked two balconies suites and two inside cabins. Our travel agent called and said the cruise line wanted to upgrade us at no additional costs to the family suite in exchange for the two inside cabins. Why?

There was a convention booking the cruise and they needed two inside cabins. The family suite wasn’t yet booked. They could upgrade us and resell the inside cabins and make money. Talk about a fantastic upgrade! Two separate bedrooms, double balcony, a living room, turndown service included and use of the minibar. Suite.

I think the same thing happens with hotel. They will upgrade you from a nicer room that isn’t sold yet in order to resale that room. So it depends on the luck of the draw as to what rooms they have and what rooms people are seeking at that particular time.

bookish1's avatar

It never would occur to me to tip someone at the front desk to try to score a better room. That does indeed sound like a bribe.
If I have the cash, though, I try to tip housekeeping and room service generously.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Oh, I know, that s exactly what we will do, leave the bags with the hotel if they don’t have a room ready. I’ve done it before. It’s just that most of our hotel stays are when we travel for racing, so we get there very late in the day, after a day of driving, or seeing friends or family, and we go to them first before checking in. Or, we arrive in a destination midday and have a car, so we want at least part of the day touring, so we don’t wase time checking in first. Next week we will arrive early, going to Orlando, and I rather my bags not sit in the hot car, and the hotel has a free shuttle to sea world and tickets for quick queue, or whatever they call it. So, going to the hotel first makes sense. I already can’t believe I am going to Seaworld in the summer, kind of breaking my own rules. The last time I remember arriving early at a hotel we had to check our bags and the room was not ready. It was in Montrael, busy city obviously. We didn’t have a car, so we couldn’t just leave the bags in the trunk.

As far as cruises, even the cruise people tell you to reserve cheap and hope for an ugrade. If you want a balcony that upgrade is less likely, but from outside room with barely a view to ourside room with a view happens a lot. Last cruise I took they linked my room with my parents and their friends. A coupe weeks before cruise time they gave us one upgrade, but it was at the front of the boat. I was nervous there might be more rocking there. I have never had sea sickness before, but I had been in a bad accident a few months earlier and it game me severe positional vertigo. It’s two different things motion sick and positional vertigo, but I was still a little worried. I wrote a note asking for a room more towards the center and explained my situation. They upgraded me separate from the st of the party. My room was much better. Larger, and larger window. I wouldn’t do it again though. It was an honest concern of mine at the time, I wouldn’t do it just to do it.

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