In the frequent travel world, you’ll hear “it doesn’t hurt to ask” a lot. This is even more true in Vegas, where many things are negotiable.
Someone was just asking me about my experience with getting upgrades at hotels. While I have status at various hotels in Vegas, my major upgrades have come from tipping.
Please note that this advice is only true for Vegas. I’ve been asked about trying this in other locations, and I am very sure this would come off as very strange behavior anywhere else in the United States.
Tipping doesn’t guarantee you an upgraded room, but if you do your homework and ask in the right manner, you will increase your chances of a successful (or decrease your chances of an unsuccessful) tipping situation.
Here are my tips. And for this advice in action, here’s my experience with getting a really nice upgrade at the Mirage.
1. Know your hotel
First, know whether or not anyone else has had experience getting upgrades at your hotel. Tipping was pretty much a standard norm in Vegas, but I’m not so sure with some of the newer properties.
I’ve had luck with every Mlife property I’ve stayed at, including Mirage, MGM, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, and Luxor (but you definitely don’t need to tip $100 at Luxor).
But for other properties, I’m not sure sure. I haven’t tried at Wynn/Encore (my only stay there was booked into a suite), but they are very strict about certain things compared to other properties. So it wouldn’t surprise me if they were more strict with this too. In fact, a quick Google search shows some success, but also some complaints about being upgraded but with strings attached.
I’d do a quick Google search for any property I wasn’t sure of ahead of time.
2. Know the room availability
Before going to the front desk, make sure you know what rooms are avaliable. If you ask for an upgrade and there’s only a strip-view upgrade available, technically the front desk is giving you what you asked for by moving you to that room. Know if there’s availability and ask for it by name. You can do this by searching a same-day reservation on the hotel website. This gives the person at the front desk a clear idea of what you are looking for and whether or not they “earned” the tip by the end of the transaction.
It can also affect how much I decide to tip. For example, I Heart Music was doing an event at the Mandalay the same time I was staying there. It was sold out completely. I was traveling with someone who had never been to Vegas before and I wanted to make sure they had a great view. I tipped $20 and specifically asked if they could get me a room with a really great strip view. And they did.
3. It’s not really a $20 trick
Another piece to this is knowing what to tip. I like to tip enough that the person at the front desk will do everything within his/her power to get me the upgrade without it being completely excessive. I usually stay at the nicer properties, so I do $100 at those. If you think about it, for a 3-night stay, that suite is only costing you $33 a night with a $100 tip.
But at the Luxor? The $20 trick is more than enough.
4. Be shady but not too shady
You don’t just wanna hand the money over the counter.
I’ve heard some advice that you should slip the money folded behind the credit card, hold the credit card at a 45 degree angle so the front desk person can see it, and tap it on the counter to get his/her attention. Then you ask if there are any complimentary upgrades.
That just comes off as shady to me. Plus, I wouldn’t ask about complimentary upgrades generally. Again, remember, a strip view could be considered an “upgrade”.
I place the bill folded up behind the credit card pushed slightly forward (so the clerk won’t miss it and accidentally drop it). I confidently hand that package to the clerk while saying, “What are the chances of getting an upgrade into the tower suite?” Sometimes I aim higher than I know they’ll actually give me, but I’m a little cheeky like that. (I’ve never been successful with that one).
I have had the clerk give me the credit card back with the cash when the upgrades haven’t worked out. But I did have one tell me to come back the next day and see him because he could get me the room I wanted then. So I saved the tip for the next day.
5. In conclusion…
All in all, nothing is guaranteed and your results may vary. I’ve never actually “lost” a tip–that is, I’ve never had someone take a tip without giving me an upgrade–but that’s a very real possibility when handing someone money.
I’ve used these tricks to make Vegas feel a little more fancy, but Vegas itself (and not the room!) is the real experience.