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.