Dear Hotel Manager: Email Your Way to Free Room Upgrades and Welcome Gifts

Gimme dat! “Say please first,” your mom always said. Mom’s right. Asking for something nicely like free room upgrades, spa access, and welcome gifts greatly increases your probability of success with a hotel manager. And as some wise person once declared: “half of life is in the asking.” Further, giving a good reason why your wish should be granted tilts the playing field in your favor.

Put these concepts into practice by writing friendly, concise, and specific emails to hotel managers and I predict Great and Wondrous Things shall be granted to you. Sometimes it’s better to receive than give. However, if you show good character, courtesy, and respect in a hotel manager email for a special room request, you’re in a sense giving kindness. And Kindness is King. From my perspective specifically, a King Corner Suite, Top Floor with lounge access. 🙂 Join me as we learn how to soft-sell our way into hotel perks typically reserved for Elites.

What you might ask for explicitly in a hotel manager room request email

By making nice through the Internet, we’ve received:

  • Complimentary Suite upgrades
  • Complimentary Corner Room upgrades
  • Top Floor Rooms
  • Ocean Front Rooms
  • Late check-outs
  • Spa Access

These items are often reserved for Elite hotel guests with Status in the hotel chain. Or those who obviously pay for rooms (aka “revenue stays”). In this post, we’re discussing how to turn free, Standard Room point and free night certificate stays into non-standard, extraordinary experiences.

What you may receive as a surprise welcome gift

  • A Bottle of Merlot or Cabernet
  • A Bottle of Champagne (Sparkling Wine, actually)
  • Chocolate covered strawberries (a My Points Blog Family Favorite)
  • A Fruit plate
  • A Cheese and cracker plate
  • Small cake or cupcakes
  • A letter acknowledging your celebration signed by staff (nice touch)

I’m sure hotels offer these welcome packages for a fee. I just don’t like paying for them.

How to improve your chances for success

  • Have something to legitimately celebrate
  • Travel during off-peak seasons (more empty rooms)
  • Soft-pedal your request and be nice; never demand or dictate
  • Have some sort of Status with the hotel chain
  • Have a clear idea of what, specifically, constitutes a Good Room
  • Get your email seen by the right people

We’ll cover these in turn.

1. Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Are you celebrating anything special? If so, let management know in the email so they can justify doing a bit extra. You could be celebrating:

  • An anniversary
  • A birthday
  • A new job or promotion
  • Retirement
  • Festivus (kidding) – though I have mentioned visiting family on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Typically, my wife and I travel during our anniversary or our birthdays. So it’s easy to truthfully state what we’re celebrating. Don’t make stuff up. Bad karma.

2. Travel during shoulder or off-peak seasons

Our anniversary is in late September and my birthday is in late May. Conveniently, both fall within shoulder seasons for places we love: like Hawaii and Europe. During non-peak times–absent special events or other unique conditions–more room inventory is available. When a hotel isn’t at peak capacity, it’s easier for staff to make judgment calls and provide complimentary upgrades to those who ask correctly.

3. Soft-pedal your request and be nice

If I have to explain this to you in great detail, you may not be a nice person. Let’s leave it at that for now. I will, however, provide some templatized “nice guy” verbiage you may use for your email.

4. Have Status with the hotel

The higher the status, the more likely some or all of your request will be satisfied. At the very least, do a free sign-up with the particular hotel chain’s loyalty program. That gets you the lowest status; but it can beat no status at all. It at least shows Management you’ve got an idea that there’s a loyalty program and a path to higher status. Maybe they’ll impress you. Some hotel credit cards provide middle to high-level status for as long as the card is active. That’s a subject for another blog post. Some status levels come with One Level Up free upgrades, etc. Good Stuff.

5. Know what constitutes a good room

This will vary from property to property; particularly for large resorts with different buildings and phases. The view may be different from one side of one building. One building “#8” may be new, while another is old and tired. My strategy is exactly as follows:

  • Google the property of interest and navigate to the Trip Advisor page for it
  • Start reading the reviews and look for a Room Tip to appear in any review
  • Click on more Room Tips to show them all
  • Highlight and copy/paste the Room Tips to another document and start reading

This is likely much more than most travelers will do. Distill those Room Tips down based on your unique interests. You’d like a view of the Eiffel Tower, an Ocean Front Room, etc. Certainly won’t receive both in Paris, but you get my meaning. Learn what various classes of rooms are named by exploring the property’s own web site. This way you can speak the correct lingo when it comes to making your special hotel room request.

6. Have your email seen by the right people

The General Manager (GM) can route your email to the proper person. That’s my first choice. But anyone in Management might work. The trick can be finding any email addresses at all. Start with a hotel’s web site, delving into obscure specialty areas perhaps like Conventions, Weddings, etc. Take note of any general hotel email addresses for your CC section. If you can’t find the GM’s email address from the web site, start googling Hotel X General Manager email address. See if you can find the current GM’s name through press releases, etc. Rinse, lather, repeat. I’ve spent up to an hour locating current hotel managers’ email addresses.Trip Advisor reviews will sometimes list contact emails. Become familiar with clicking More on individual reviews. This exposes Hotel Staff responses to customer reviews, be they favorable or damning.

Hotel GMs seem to move around from property to property and chain to chain, so even information on the web may be dated. One option I’ve never tried is calling a property’s local reservations desk and simply asking for the GM’s name. It just never occurred to me until I began writing this section. Another viable technique may be, once you’ve found the right person, to see if you can Connect with her or him via LinkedIn. I routinely connect with hotel staff who’ve assisted me. And once you’re in a single Manager’s network, you may have access to others in that network. You’ll also be able to see if you’ve got the correct person, as well as find other managers to reach out to for any given property.

A template for making an effective special room request via email

An effective hotel room request email is one that is:

  • Identifying – shows who you are and why you’re making the request
  • Specific – asks for clear items ideally in order of preference
  • Kind – requests, not demands, items

And contains the word complimentary. Many hotels are happy to upgrade (Up Sell) you to a better room for a fee. In some cases, it’s worth it. But always begin from a position of Free. For example, use verbiage like “best complimentary room upgrade available.” Not “best available upgrade.”

Here’s a general example for a married couple celebrating their anniversary. Copy/paste and edit as suits your needs:

To: <hotel’s general manager>, <whatever other manager you can find>
CC: <hotel’s general reservations email address>, <perhaps your spouse>
Subject: Room request for DD/MM/YYYY check-in, DD/MM/YYYY check-out <include property name or hotel brand if you’d like for easy searching>

Dear <General Manager>, <other Manager> and Staff,

Please forward to the appropriate person. My wife and I are <Loyaty Program Name & Tier> members celebrating <our nth anniversary> at your property. <State anything else of interest here, like first time in City X or County Y, first time at hotel chain Z, etc> We realize anything beyond what we booked would be a courtesy on your part and subject to availability. But anything you could do to make our stay special would be appreciated.

Here are the booking details <may not be strictly necessary, but I like to provide>:

Check-in: <date>
Check-out: <date>
Reservation #: <number>
<Loyalty program name> #: <number>
Current Booked Room Type: <e.g. Deluxe 1 King City View>

Here is what we would like in order of preference. We’d be grateful for any accommodations you could satisfy as we spend this special time with you:

* Complimentary upgrade to <River View> on <top floor or highest floor available, if either are important to you>

* Best complimentary room type upgrade available (suite, etc)

* Corner Room <if this is important; often the best views are from corner rooms having two sets of windows>

* King bed (preferred); or two double beds if all or some of the above can be accommodated

* Room away from noise as we are light sleepers <if you are>

* Late check-out of <time>. However, if upgraded to a premium room we could check-out early

* Complimentary access to common areas in the Spa <if that’s your thing>

* Lounge access <if there’s a lounge and that’s your thing>

Cross your fingers and hit Send. Expect nothing. Hope for everything. 🙂

First Follow-up

If you hear nothing back in a week, try a quick and friendly follow-up email. We all get so many emails daily that some undoubtedly go unnoticed. Don’t foul up. Be sure to give the process time. But not too much. Your letter may have landed in a junk mail folder.


If you don’t hear anything after your first follow-up, it may be worthwhile reaching out to a regional manager. Check the corporate web site or follow the instructions in Step $6 above: Have your email seen by the right people. No dice? After that, it’s as high up as you care to go. And you can go all the way up need be. Use your imagination. But also be mindful that Real People with Real Jobs “live” behind email addresses. You might say, “Dear X, could you please see that this email is forwarded to the correct person at property X.” Kind beats cruel every time, despite the crap you see at airline boarding counters; those taking “customer is King” quite literally. If satisfying your room request comes to escalation, your phone may begin ringing. Or your device may ding with a New Email alert faster than you’d expect.

Say Thank You

It’s your Mom again. Not of the Anthony Perkins “Mother! Mother!” variety, but Good Manners 101. If your request was successful, send a simple to moderate-in-enthusiasm “thanks.” After your stay is complete, presuming it was a spectacular one, reach out in praise. Good karma. Single out exceptional staff members who served you, CCing Management, and thanking them for their hospitality and professionalism. They brightened your Stay? Brighten their Day. Really. A little acknowledgement goes a long, long way.

Your Mileage (and Points) May Vary

None of this is a guarantee. You may get some, or none, of the things you request. But it sure doesn’t hurt trying. And it’s an absolute rush when your efforts pan out. Occasionally, they pay out beyond your wildest imaginings. Like a stay of ours in Venice. Ah, Venice… Grazie mille!

Gallery of Awesomeness

In another blog post, I’ll share photos and videos of some of my successes. Until then, Happy Hotel Manager Email Room Request writing! I hope we’ve removed most of the pain and mystery out of the process for you. Perhaps you didn’t know there was pain or mystery. Nonetheless, score a success or two and you’ll be hooked like a fish on live bait.

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