This theory is more from experience than a definitive guide on how to get a room upgrade. Maybe I’m just lucky but looking into it further it could be to do with my style of travel. With travel I always book one, maybe two nights at a fancy resort for each destination. When comfortable and familiar with the area I move on to book a budget stay elsewhere. I regularly find myself with a room upgrade. If I am given the upgrade I go online to book extra nights for the same hotel and same room which I had booked previously. The chances of being downgraded from the upgrade to the original standard room is unlikely (unless the hotel is fully booked). While I feel long stay visitors should get these perks; I find the opposite from experience and from the perspective of the hotel the short stay customer could be more valuable. My reasoning below.
With every room upgrade the hotel gives away a more value room. Giving away a more valuable room means they are at risk of losing a more valuable sale. To offer the room upgrade for longer periods only increases this risk of lost sales and incomes. Therefore a room upgrade for short stay customers should bring less risk and will likely be preferred by the hotel. For one night stays, depending on availability, the risk can be next to zero and if a room upgrade is possible on check-in there will be no additional costs incurred by the hotel yet there are potential benefits through customer satisfaction and feedback.
Tripadvisor, online review sites, word of mouth… these days customer satisfaction and unbiased feedback is essential to every hotel. By offering a room upgrade a hotel can almost guarantee to better them. So if the hotel has a string of seven one-night stays ahead they have the potential to satisfy seven different customers. Seven room upgrades will likely give a quick boost to feedback and the hotel’s ratings and rankings and drive future sales. With longer stays however during the same period there will only be the potential for one customer review and of course to upgrade the long-stay customer will lose the potential benefits of the seven others. It is also easier to please customers in the short-term.
Online booking sites such as Agoda share their own source of customer reviews and allow customers to filter by customer rating. This will always be my first method for hotel bookings; starting with the highest customer rating and working down through the list. I rarely see the bottom ranks. The reason this works well is because only past customers can give feedback on hotels and it is encouraged through Agoda’s loyalty reward scheme (freebies). Regional hotel booking sites (like Agodo) are also preferred by domestic and ASEAN tourists who have a better grasp on value for money in the region. They are therefore better trusted. Also new hotel listings are worth considering as they are often desperate to make a good first impression to build rankings and reputation.
International tourists are more likely to be long stay customers and with a world of choice they are also more likely to be one off customers. On the flip side short stay customers are more likely to be domestic or ASEAN tourists / travellers with higher chance of return sales and customer loyalty. Weekend breaks, short holidays, long holidays, year round and ongoing sales continuing into the future. Word-of-mouth with domestic travellers will also be more valuable than with international travellers. Lastly international tourists with little regional comparison will be easier to please than when compared to the more expensive hospitality of the west. For example $80 for a Travel Lodge in the UK will get a 4* resort, all facilities and breakfast in Thailand. Who do you think will get the room upgrade?