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October 25, 2021

Hotels look to cash in by selling 'standby' upgrades

Staying only one night, coming in late and traveling when there's a conference in town have always increased the odds of of getting an upgraded hotel room.

AdBut these days room upgrades are harder than ever to come by. Unless you're willing to pay for them up front, of course.

Basically, what some hotels are doing is following the airlines' lead by charging extra for something you used to get "free," at least some of the time, depending on your frequent flyer status or the metallic colour of your credit card,

According to Consumer Traveler, asking prices for conditional upgrades start at $9 for a room on a higher floor, $20 for a room with a better view or a smoking room, $65 for a late checkout, or $125 for a suite – assuming there’s one available when you actually check in.

It’s a great idea for hotels trying to squeeze a bit more revenue out of what's essentially a “standby” option. But is it worth the money?

No one is twisting your arm, of course. If there are any losers, it's frequent-stay members without promised upgrades who might otherwise receive discretionary perks on arrival.

Top tier frequent guests will still likely have priority for any free upgrades that are available, but it’s hard to be sure, warns travel agent Janice Hough.

Would you pay upfront for such an upgrade? Or do you try to dicker when you hit the front desk? If so, how has that worked out?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...