I wanted to resurface this post Nick wrote several years ago as it’s proven to be one of the most useful tips I’ve learned.
Over the past few years my wife and I have stayed at Marriott brands ~20 times. We’ve sometimes been able to book straight into a one bedroom suite with either points or by finding a low enough cash rate, but more frequently than not we’ve ended up booking a studio king or queen suite.
That’s not ideal for us, especially since COVID hit. My wife teaches online and is sometimes up early for classes, while I’m usually up until 3am. Being in a studio suite means we end up being more likely to wake each other up at night or in the morning. Pre-COVID it was less of an issue because we could go work down in the lobby, but that’s something we’ve avoided since March 2020. Having a one bedroom suite avoids those problems as we can teach/work in the separate living room while the other one sleeps. It also means it’s quieter at night in general as you don’t hear anyone out in the hall; that’s useful for us as we travel with our dog and so she doesn’t feel the need to protect us from all the dangerous people that quite clearly want to break into our hotel room as they walk past our door at night 😉
That’s where Nick’s tip about the chat feature in Marriott’s app has come in handy. Any time we’ve been booked into a studio suite in the last few years, I’ve taken a look on Marriott’s website a day or two before to see if there are any one bedroom suites available. If there are, I’ll reach out to the property via the chat feature to ask for an upgrade due to my status.
With only one exception, that request has always been granted. The only time they didn’t upgrade us via an app request, their reply was that we’d need to wait until check-in to see if any one bedroom suites were available, so even that wasn’t a hard no (I forget if we got an upgrade in the end at that property).
Being able to do this a day or two before you arrive can make a huge difference. Studio suites tend to be the most common room type at the properties we’ve stayed at, so there are far fewer one bedroom suites available. Waiting to ask about an upgrade until you check in therefore risks that room type either getting booked by the time you arrive or earlier-arriving guests getting the upgrade.
A couple of quick things to note about using the chat feature in the Marriott app. First, when it brings up your reservation in the app, you don’t want to select the check-in option in order to ask about an upgrade. Instead, you’ll see a couple of speech bubbles in the bottom right corner – that’s what’s used to open the chat feature.
Secondly, it can sometimes take a little while to receive a reply, so it’s not worth sitting around waiting to receive one. That’s especially the case if you’re messaging them late at night which is when I seem to remember to message them as I don’t usually get an answer until the morning. In theory you should get a notification on your phone letting you know that you have a reply, but if it’s been 12+ hours try checking the chat feature again. I requested an upgrade last night for a stay beginning on Monday and didn’t get a notification, but when opening the app this afternoon I noticed they’d already replied at 7am confirming that we’d been upgraded to a one bedroom suite (which is what prompted me to republish this post).
Here’s Nick’s original post:
My wife and I were pretty happy with how quickly we had transitioned our newborn son to sleeping in his own room/crib. As a result, we weren’t prepared for the detrimental effect it would have on our sleep when we recently decided to make a 2-week road trip to visit friends and family — with him sleeping in a pack-and-play in the same room during the trip. After two weeks of sleep deprivation, and the ride home seeming even longer than usual because of it, I was thrilled when Marriott chat came through with a nice room upgrade over the weekend.
When we were a couple of hours from reaching our drive time limit on Friday, I was happy to find the TownePlace Suites Quantico/Stafford had a room for just 10,000 Marriott points (versus the normal room rate of $118 + tax).
A few minutes after booking, I pulled up the Marriott app curious if I could make any special requests via the app. I was hoping for a slightly larger room; while the standard room is a studio, I saw that the hotel also had 1-bedroom suites. I thought that a separate bedroom would enable us to set things up in a way so as not to wake each other up repeatedly and get slightly better sleep.
The app gave me the option to check in and choose my room. I was pretty sure that as a Marriott Gold member, I wouldn’t see a meaningful upgrade over the standard room I’d picked (and Greg has previously written about this topic – See: Marriott Mobile Check In: Does it help or hurt upgrade chances?). However, I also I saw that there was an option to “Chat with us”. I clicked through to start a chat.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect someone to respond — and if they did, I figured I’d be getting a Marriott rep in a call center who would add a note to my reservation at best. To my surprise, I got a pretty quick response affirming that they would be happy to arrange a larger room.
Upon arrival, I gave my name at the desk. Niecey, the friendly check-in agent, said that they were expecting me. She informed me that she had upgraded us to a 2-bedroom suite! I didn’t actually ask if she was the agent with whom I had chatted, but I got the impression that she was the person who had responded to the chat. While the hotel itself shows a little wear, the 2-bedroom suite was exactly what we needed. We ended up being able to trade off sleeping in a bedroom alone with the door closed, allowing us to each get some uninterrupted sleep. That was awesome.
We even had plenty of room to eat dinner. TownePlace Suites is an extended-stay brand, so I knew we would have a kitchette, but I didn’t know we would end up using it. We had picked up takeout, not anticipating what turned into a need for an immediate bath for Baby Rey. Having an oven to heat up our food and a roll of paper towels (since I forgot to grab extra napkins) turned the TownePlace Suites into a great decision.
Will Marriott chat get you an awesome upgrade every time? I’m sure it probably won’t. Did it help that I was staying at an extended stay property in a place that isn’t a major tourist destination? I’m sure it did.
On the other hand, I’m equally willing to bet that it gave me a better chance at an upgrade than mobile check-in. I further wonder if chatting in the early afternoon or late evening might give you a better shot at an available discretionary upgrade. For instance, by chatting a couple of hours before I got there, maybe I scored an upgrade that someone else would have taken when they arrived before me. I have no way of knowing that’s true, but it’s probably worth a shot.