I'm writing this column from a balcony overlooking the ocean. The only reason I'm staring at sandy beaches - and not at a parking lot - is because of a few e-mails I sent a week ago.
After I'd booked us into the basic rooms at the three hotels we're staying at, I set out to try to get an upgrade in each hotel. About a week prior to arrival, I e-mailed each general manager directly and told them why I was travelling to their hotel, which room I was currently booked in, and the specific name of the suite I'd ideally like to be in. I then added a few things I could do in return for such a generous upgrade: post a positive review on tripadvisor.com, recommend the hotel to colleagues, friends and family, agree to return if possible in the future, etc.
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The key with most requests is to be gracious. Kindness goes a long way in getting more for less. Also, if you're part of the hotel's preferred guest program you should make that clear, but it's certainly not essential.
The lesson I learned: Don't wait until you check in to ask for upgrades. The first hotel wasn't able to upgrade us, but did give us a free brunch; the second bumped us up to an ocean-view room; and the third gave us an ocean-view suite and sent a bottle of bubbly to our room. If you're travelling soon and would like an outline of the letter I've been using, send me a message via Smartcookies.com.
Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the new globeinvestor.com.Report Typo/Error
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