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Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Lesson 20 of 32

Upgrade Your Accommodations

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

Make Your Dream Trip a Reality

Chris Guillebeau, Stephanie Zito

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Lesson Info

20. Upgrade Your Accommodations

Lesson Info

Upgrade Your Accommodations

We are at lesson nineteen in week for talking all about hotels is our last lesson in our week of hotels and today we're gonna talk about upgrade your accommodation we left off last lesson talking about how to become a v I p so hopefully you guys will figure it out how to get elite status last night while you were also earning more points of miles while you were sleeping and so yeah exactly a productive night so are three goals for today's lesson our tow learn how upgrades are assigned to choose the best possible room and toe optimize your check in experience we're also gonna end today's lesson with the hot seat where we can workshop some of your hotel travel ideas and if you're joining us online we're gonna workshop some of those ideas in our facebook groups so make sure you're active in our facebook group and following us for all the links on travel hacking dot org's slash dream trip so jumping right into this the hotel upgrade how many of you guys have ever been upgraded when you che...

ck into a hotel a couple of you a couple of how many of you want to be upgraded when you check into a room how many of you are asked for an upgrade when you check into a hotel interesting what what happened when you when you asked more than I've been accepted in the main times I've been accepted I'm mainly like week days when not too many people are there, but prime time it's usually a denial, but doesn't hurt two acts, right? Do you know? Can you do have any idea what specifically you asked for? Just a room with a better view around with a better view? Well, I'm just thinking about upgrades, kind of how I usually approach it is remember I'm a bad hacker, so the first thing I asked for usually is do you have a room with a nice back tub, right? Another thing I sometimes ask for when I check into a hotel is I'm here like minded with casey, do you have a room with a nice of you? And then in some places, I asked this question, do you have a bathtub with a nice this's? Actually the most amazing backup I've ever taken a bath in? And and it is in in the st regis in abu dhabi and very phenomenal, so I'm going to hand this over to chris for some tips on how to get a better room, okay, awesome. So one thing that's fun, we still haven't talked a lot about airline upgrades that's coming up in the next week, you said, just as a preview of that, most airline upgrades are not actually assigned at the gate the check in agent or the check in or the person there doesn't always have a lot of discretion basically that person that you talk to when you check in for your flight a lot of the upgrades are already pre assigned it's already pretty clear like where people are are seated you can'tjust dress nice and you know dressed nice and ask nicely but when it comes to hotels the hotel checking clark usually does have a lot more discretion so it is often easier to get upgraded to a better hotel room than it is to get upgraded to a flight you can still get upgrade on your fight and we'll talk about that later but there's a few things that you can do in the first and easiest one is toe have status any kind of status we just had a whole lesson on becoming a pipe you can earn elite status the hard way by staying fifty nights a year are sometimes more or you can earn status the easy way by getting matched by getting kant or maybe the medium hard, easy way by completing a challenge like stephanie talked about. So any status that you have tends to help obviously the higher the better. But even if you just have gold status for silver senator whatever the entry level one is which can often be available for free or through having a credit card I will definitely help and there's often a separate check in line that you can go through it's not always enforced but when you approached the hotel desk there maybe like a gold silver platinum elite member line if you go through that line that kind of identifies us one of those members be familiar with room categories this is something that we haven't talked a lot about this is something that I actually didn't pay attention to for many, many years of traveling I was just happy to stay in a nice hotel and I still am not being ungrateful, but through all my hotel experience, I started understanding that you know when you when you go to book a room on a hotel website, there are all these different categories there and most of us usually just book a standard room I still only book standard rooms unless there's something unless there is no standard room available that'd be the only reason why I'd normally pay a premium at the outset, but the reason I want to become familiar with room categories is it's actually quite frequently to hear when you check in, you know you've been upgraded and you say, okay, that's great and you know you're really excited about it, right? But I know cherie has worked in the hotel industry and mats worked in the hotel industry I don't know if this was common in your experience my impression is the hotel's want to upgrade their guests they want to kind of say like we've given you something special but maybe it isn't always so when I learned more about hotel categories this kind of help me understand so now when I check in they say like oh, welcome to the hotel you've been upgraded like great to what category you have I've been upgraded because then they can say okay you were in a standard room and now you have a standard club room or something and if you look at the categories there's probably eight or something categories there if you are an elite member you're often actually entitled to the best available room if it's available I don't always like to push it a little bit but sometimes if it's the case it's like a very low upgrade I might just ask and say oh well, you know I noticed that there's still a bunch of other rooms available could I have one of those perhaps on def the answer is no then that's fine, I'll work with it but being familiar with room categories will help you with that you can also know what category to ask for you know so stephanie mentioned the bath right so some rooms might have a bathtub some might not some might have a nice bathtub so if you could be specific just like we talked about when you're talking to the airline if you know what you want it goes a long way rather than just saying may I be upgraded? Can you say you know, I was looking on the web site and I saw this great category of a room with a bath tub could I have that one and you know it's just like casey said it doesn't hurt to ask I think that's actually coming up a suite is not always better yes yeah just before we move on from the categories and what what are example categories if you're not even familiar with the language? Of course of course so if you go on any hotel website when you go to check out your going to book the room it's going to ask you a couple of questions you know how many people are staying? Are you looking for king bed or two twin beds and then usually there's also a menu and most of us don't really pay attention like I said, we just book standard rooms which is fine but it will say things like standard room it will say they like upgraded king room will stay corner room it will say sweet uh it will say executive room or club room or all of these different kind of things and usually it's presented as a hierarchy you know, like the top is like the presidential suite you know which not every hotel actually has but the next point is actually that a sweet is not always better sometimes a sweet is just two connecting rooms essentially that have been turned into a larger room so it's technically larger but it's really just kind of matching furniture and especially if you're traveling by yourself you don't necessarily need more room you kind of want a nicer room if you're traveling by yourself you might want that that bath tub rather than having like a really big room it doesn't really make sense aesthetically of course if you're with the family of us someone else maybe you want more more space but sometimes I've actually turned down sweets to get a different categories that's why it's helpful with that when someone said we have a suite for you I'd say that's great but can I have you know this other one that I think is better? Uh email the concierge in advance once you become an elite member oftentimes if you make reservations the hotel will actually reach out to you proactively on writes you a couple of weeks in advance of your stay just say oh, we saw you made a reservation is there anything we can do for you most but I'm just no thanks I'm looking forward to this day but if it is some kind of special occasion if this is your dream trip for example you can actually proactively reach out to the concierge you can get their email often on the hotel website even if it's ah branded or hotel group you can usually find an email contact if not, you can email kind of at the corporate level and it will eventually get to that person and you guys basically just say like I'm really excited about this trip you know I chose this hotel because I looked at lots of different options and it looks really great on you know, kind of here's what I'm looking for you can ask for recommendations just building that relationship a little bit maybe touching base a couple of days before your arrival as well. This is not something you want to do all the time but again for a special trip it might be worth it might be worth your time and then last but not least simply ask you know, upon check in when they're going through the spiel and saying welcome and heres your keys and is are there any other rooms available? You know is the hotel fully booked and again I try to live with gratitude I tried not to be entitled to something if the answer is no then you're like great thank you so much but very often I would say that they would say, well, let me take a look or let me go and ask the manager, let me see what I can do on dh with hotels. As I said, that check in clerk has a lot of discretion. S o they very well may be able to do something for you. Anything here? You good so far? No, I think that's great. Although we were talking about this, I realized that we were saying, like, oh, when you're when you're booking, you can you should book standard and then you could book standard and get an upgrade. And I remember in week three, we just kept telling you, you are not standard. You are not. Standard tells you are standard when you fly. You are not standard hotels. Yeah, I just wanted to add to what you're saying is even just on a past lesson too, like that with the phone call. So it's the same, like the person behind the desk is just another person, and they're the very people who, like, I don't like you. No. Can I get an upgrade? Like, you know what I mean? Like you really be like, hey, I was wondering it's really special, captain. So that goes a million miles. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for reading that. Because everybody's, like, can I get an upgrade, so if you have a reason for it's always great mostly, I just wanna have a good experience it's not always about upgrade, you know, there's other ways to have a good experience. So, uh, what's the one tip, one credit card that we haven't talked about a lot, and I won't talk about it a lot now with the american express platinum card, for which I believe there's, a canadian version, as well as both of us in the canadian version. With this card, you're allowed to book through fine hotels and resorts, which is essentially an american express travel portal. And when you go through this porto it's often helpful, especially for a dream trip, are something significant. They mostly work with luxury properties. They're not all five star properties that could be three star, but they are usually nicer hotels they have him in all the major cities around the world. And so the fun fact is that when you look through this port on the hotels that are available usually come up with the same price or sometimes lower, then you see elsewhere. And unlike what we mentioned before, when you use thirty third party booking sites, you don't get benefits. You do still get benefits when looking through this portal, and every hotel that participates in this travel portal has to provide additional benefits to customers who booked through the fine hotels and resorts. So very often you can get double upgrades through it, essentially so often when you book through fine hotels and resorts it maybe the same prices booking even on the hotel's website, but they have lots of specials and these air often very significant amenities like one hundred dollars spa credit. You know, during the course of your stay, one hundred dollars dining credit, these tend to be pretty good things, and of course, you also get late checkout. You also get early check in upon availability, sometimes they like, give you a couple of, you know, pressings of clothes, like if you have a couple of items, clothes, they're pressing for u all kinds of special stuff, and if you have totally status benefits, you'll get those too. I've seen on fine hotels resorts I've seen also like gulf credit as well, and they often have a couple like stay three nights get one night free, especially during off season. In fact, that hotel with the bathtub with the view was booked through fine hotels and resorts in abu dhabi during the off season that's great. So as I said, you could get your status benefits with it, but I should have mentioned that if you don't have elite status, this is basically a way to have elite status for any particular stay. Because if you have no status whatsoever with the hotel but you booked your fine hotels and resorts they will treat you very well so it's kind of a way to fast track that for a particular stay if it's not somewhere that you normally go to oh yes len and that's just with that card that is just with that card if you have that car I believe you know I don't want to jump in because we didn't actually talk about this at all during the credit uh during the credit cards lesson seven, eight and nine during that week but that credit card the american express platinum it does it has a really have two annual fee it's four hundred fifty dollars and we talked a little bit about annual fees but one thing we didn't talk about is when you're looking at these cards with the high annual fees what a lot of those benefits are in this card in particular is a really great card for people who do travel ah lot because even though you're paying four hundred fifty dollars for it every year you get a two hundred dollars credit on any airline that you choose and its annual credit based on the calendar year so the first year you get this card if you get it not in january so you get it in october you could get a two hundred dollar credit on any airline that year and then you can get the credit again after january so you can get four hundred dollars of airline credit and then you can get the benefits of this card and we saw last week that one of the benefits of this card is starwood gold status and we're going to also talk in less than twenty one about the lounge benefits that this gives you an airport and so I think it's it's important when you're looking at some of these things like but I didn't have this card for years because I was like, I'm gonna pay for hundred fifty dollars for a credit card that's ridiculous, but the more I traveled, the more I was able to see like, you know, really I'm getting like four hundred lise probably more than four hundred dollars of benefits with this card so it's one of the reasons that I do carry it now and can take advantage of a program like this and I had the same story with the car does well, I kept looking at it like you're after you're just because I got every credit card you know and I I wanted to get it, but I was like, I really can't justify it can't it's just too much and then finally they actually kept adding benefits to it was another thing it wasn't just that I kind of changed my perspective excuse me they kept adding additional benefits to it so it became valuable so that's one thing for that, uh, workbook activity for those who have the workbook. I believe this is on page forty seven, forty seven activity for today and if you're following along as well, all week, we've been talking about stuff, but especially today toe list three strategies for getting the best possible room, and normally at this point I would stop and ask for questions, but I think what stephanie I would like to do is we want teo seat ourselves in the hot seat we've been talking about hotels wave, which has been giving you a lot of information. We want to make sure that that, you know, the information actually leads to action, that you're not confused, that we can really help you with your travel strategy. So we're going to sit in a travel hotsy buckle up. I don't know what these questions are going exactly. No idea and wave love teo answer anything you like either on his topic or everything that we talked about. Yes got a big fan of kimpton hotels, okay? They recently were purchased by hi h g d card that's offering the seventy thousand mile bonus we actually corresponded on this task if kimpton was going to be wrapped into that award program and I have gotten nothing definitive from anybody on that and I was wondering if you had an inside track on that because I love kimpton and if I could get seventy thousand points that I could use that those kimpton hotels that's valuable to me all right, so for those who are watching and having heard of kempton campus is a pretty small brand I don't know exactly how many hotels they have it thanks just a couple of dozen already a few dozen mostly in the united states if not exclusively and they were recently purchased by g, which is a much, much larger much, much larger hotel group and whenever that happens there are pros and cons to it essentially it's like you know, the pro is that kimpton guests now have access to this, you know, much broader portfolio and eventually they will have, you know, redemption opportunities with the points maybe the concern, of course is people who are really loyal to a small company or now kind of, you know, being swallowed by the bigger one. I don't have an inside track on that. I know I know it will happen sooner sooner or later. I would say you know, at the time of this filming probably is gonna happen in the next year, but I don't know specific answer I think kind of amore evergreen point to that, though, is that these programs are always changing, always shifting and it's really about learning how to like when we talked about deals learning how to keep up to date on that information that's most important to you you don't have to know what's happening in all the transitions of all the different programs but if you can figure out how to keep up with that information and you know if your apprentice enthusiast all of these hotel groups the ones that you joined the membership programs they all have ah email you know an email sign up and they'll send you information about their programs and how it's gonna affect you in their points or changing if you want some you know maur enthusiast rock star you want to know what's coming down the line you know, reading some of those blog's the travel hacking cartel some of the flyer talking mile point forums that's where you're gonna find kind of like this insider information that that's that scott's interested and I bet he reads flyertalk eso quick question around prioritizing your card so say for example I heard you mention like in the past that she would you know, initially get the airlines cards party you getting the hotel cards? Um is that still something that you value more of the airline cars over the hotel cards or vice versa or yeah, not necessarily I think probably the cards that I value the most are the ones that are flexible opening rites the ones that go into these programs where there there have been held in the program, whether it's chase, ultimate rewards are american express membership rewards or star would, and then when I want to use them for something that I transfer them to one of the partners, I think those wrecks of the most valuable points because they can't just to value immediately, like anyone program can always value and the award charge changed or all of a sudden having a hard time like being able to use miles in a particular program. But I think those are the more valuable points. I'd also say that I think part of it is your personal preference and what you are what's easier for you to spend money on, too, because, like, for me, travel is is a high priority in my life, and I like I will not go to the mall and buy clothing, but I do not have any problem, you know, dropping five or six hundred dollars on a plane ticket if it somewhere I want to go but it's easier for me to pay for plane tickets than it is for me to pay for hotel rooms, because if I'm gonna pay for a hotel room, I'm gonna pay for. The lowest and budget place I can stay and so for me, I do really value like chris said, my flexible points and all that, but I really do value my hotel cards as well, because that's where I'm going, I'm gonna get you out of those because I will use them to stay at nice places that I wouldn't pay for, you know, there's cards that you keep in your wallets and use all the time there's cards that you get just for the sign up bonus, and then you don't ever do anything with him again, then there's other cars that you get for the benefits like stephanie mentioned, so I just got that I d card myself, I met the minimum spend on it. I don't expect to use that card like actively or frequently, but I'm going to keep it because every year I'm getting one of those certificates that I pay forty nine dollars for the annual fee and I can use that in a five hundred dollars a night hotel that's why I have that card and I don't actually use it for any spend I was going to say I got that card because I'm just I just did all the research on how to go to bora bora and I have to prove to you guys, but I can go, so I'm on my track my question was just from what stephanie said earlier about a mix platinum card, uh, she said that if you get the card near the end of the year, you get the two hundred dollars credit. Uh, if you book a flight and then by january, you're gonna get another two hundred dollars, can you combine those together and, well, yes, so first off, you can't use it to book a flight it's, an airline credit but it's for any airline expense. Other than a ticket, however, there is a little bit of my black hats calm but there's a little bit of a black hat work around that you can use your american express credit to book. You can pay for gift cards so you can buy gift cards on an airline with your credit, and then you can use your gift card to buy to pay for your plane ticket. So but you get a and it might be a little bit different in canada because I know the canada card. The platinum card in canada is like six hundred ninety nine canadian dollars versus in the us, it's four hundred and fifty, and your benefits are a little bit different, but an american express if you're watching from anywhere else, american express platinum is one of the it's a very, very global card one of my best friends is mexican and she has this card and uses their benefits all the time so you can get it in most countries it will be a little bit different though, but so for the two hundred dollars for the two hundred dollars credit you get it one time per year one time one time per calendar year so when you're getting this card if you get it in january of a calendar year, you have twelve months to claim the benefit and then you have to pay your annual fee again and then you get the two hundred dollars again. But the first year you get the card if you apply for the card and say october you have october november december of that calendar year to claim the benefit and then the benefit resets in january and you can claim it again you're way get gift cards this year and then the following year also get the gift card and you still the cards to applied the words your ticket just like the black have towards a ticket so you could get four hundred dollars in airline credit in one year on you're in your first year on that card and for and for the american card that cost is four hundred fifty dollars so you've almost paid yourself back in airline credit without any of the other benefits of the card so just one thing to mention that for people who are watching it is a black hat thing a cz you mentioned because american express doesn't actually pup publish that you can purchase gift cars and the credit will apply it's just something that everyone who has done it has been successful in it so we have seen this face for ourselves we have done it for three or four years at least and it's something that could change if you're watching this you know, wants from now but again, if the changes it will be something that you will read about on those points of miles, logs and stuff that you're following now right now it works no, no that's I was just trying to get the final bit a little clarification witches gave because I've had a platinum card flatter years and I've never been aware that particular feature of that benefit thie idea is that it's to pay for your checked bags and you know if you purchase and food onboard or something and I'm sure that corporate wise they have a little breakage in that he's not everybody spends two hundred dollars a year on checked bags or whatever, so we always encourage people make sure you get the full benefit that you're entitled to whose gift current is it it's um you know when you get this car you you set you choose an airline that the car is associated with it could be any any major north american airline and then over the next year any expenses that are charged on that card up to two hundred dollars are credited back so if you chose american airlines or united or delta then that's the carrier so then you were going by two hundred dollars worth of gift cards using that and you get a credit on your platinum bill you could do that online you think you can just go online so one of the things you say you said you have a platinum card and you've never been aware of this benefit okay? So it's really interesting platinum the platinum card has a lot of benefits you actually have to register for a lot of them were going to talk about a lounge benefit tomorrow are on lesson twenty one there's a look a number of benefits and a lot of them you actually have to read so for this minute that you actually have to register which airline and then you get the credit that it's free so I probably didn't register if I did I forget, but yeah, because it's every other offers that you're gonna find money while you're sleeping like another two hundred bucks well, doing pretty well for yourself are one more from kendrick our house and the credit back that purchase that you make with you in that same statement cycle personally, you know, we talked about risk levels in our black hat lesson I personally have, like I have a low risk tolerance when it comes to financial things, mostly because I don't have a lot of money, and so what I'll usually do is I'll do like a fifty dollar gift card in a fifty dollar gift card, rather than just to make sure you know, that I'm gonna get it back. Other questions about hotels, maybe not not just related to american express, so say there's a card, a hotel card that you could get a business account and a personal account your cards can you? You can combine those well, if you're getting the same card like you're getting the starwood personal card and the star right business card, the points that you earn are going to the same account absolutely just wanted teo clarifies that were different accounts so you can put them to this. You know, when you, when you apply for the card, you'll you'll include your mileage number, okay, or your hotel program number and that's, where the miles and points will go if for some reason you mess it up for some bucks, people maybe apply and forget to include that you can call and usually in the first couple of months they will just switching over for you. And and also for that on the start, when we were talking about v I p status, some of the card that give you the stays and nights credits, if you have so, the starwood card that gives you two two stays in four nights, credits if you have the business one, you get that if you have the personal when you get that, and that will all credit towards the same account, so you'll have forced days and eight nights already towards your earning your status. Thank you. It is a risk a credit card to the ritz carlton carlton, they d'oh d'oh. You don't know a lot about it, but I think it's think it's similar to the platinum in terms of the fee, it could be wrong with its high thean ritz carlton is also a marriott partner, so I'm not exactly sure all of the details of how you can move points between the programs, but I believe you can redeem marriott points out of it's carlton, everybody good could we unbuckle ourselves from the from the hospital? You guys are all set for staying where you're going to stay at your dream trip during trip obviously keep us posted will keep supporting you along the way, way your picture, right, ready to disembark you already so so uh what okay, that I brought from champagne glasses, but I'm good. I'm good, awesome or our in studio audience would love to know what's, the most important thing that you learned today, only two or three people, kendrick again. So I learned about the american express platinum card and how to do that end of the year strategy. Thanks for that's. Excellent, I think. Just point out that the sweet is not always the better room, I think that's, always, usually the assumption that you get a suite it's, always the best rooms. Anything else I was going to say, just just the same thing. I think I like knowing the rooms and knowing what to ask for, because I think a general question is always easy to shut down, but a specific quantity seems more emotional and in touch to that.

Class Description

Who wouldn’t love to know how to earn enough miles and points for two airline tickets and three hotel nights? In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality, Chris Guillebeau and Stephanie Zito can show you how it's done. 

Travel feeds our creative spirits, allows us to discover new viewpoints, and fuels our work. In this class, you’ll find out how you can make your dream of journeying to the world’s most far-flung places a practical and affordable reality.

Chris and Stephanie have made it their life's mission to help others experience all the thrill and adventure that world travel can offer. In Make Your Dream Trip a Reality. 

Chris and Stephanie will help you: 

  • Master the system of Frequent Flier miles and hotel points
  • Set up a personal points-earning strategy – even if you don’t fly
  • Upgrade your dream vacation experience at no cost to you

In short, daily lessons, Chris and Stephanie will cover all aspects of how to plan your vacation including financing your trip. You’ll learn how to set your savings and point-earning strategy so you are armed with everything you need to relax and enjoy your vacation once you depart. They’ll teach you how to book flights and hotels so you get the very best experience at the absolute best rate. You’ll also get insider tips from professional globetrotters on traveling solo and as a family.

By the end of this course you’ll learn everything you need to know to save money, minimize hassle, and make the most of your travel experience.

Your dream destination, and a life of regular traveling, is now available to you – no matter your budget. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

40 Ways to Use Ultimate Rewards Points

Dream Trip Workbook

7 Habits of Highly Effective Travel Hacking Couples

Dream Trip Credit Card Tracker

Upgrade Unlocked Sneak Peak

10 Tips for Travel Hacking Families

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Highly recommended! This is one of the best CreativeLive courses I've ever taken and a great value. There's a lot of excellent information here, presented in a fun and accessible way. The CL "boot camp" approach was perfect for this topic because it dispenses the material in bite size pieces with very doable action steps along the way. The corresponding Facebook group adds even more value and camaraderie. It's a great place to clear up any questions or confusion that may come up. What an amazing resource! By the end of the course, not only will you have learned a tremendous amount, you will actually have something tangible to show for it!

a Creativelive Student

This is a fabulous course. Stephanie and Chris are both so knowledgeable, helpful, and easy going. They clearly love and practice what they're teaching. And they're open to learning from the students too. The course is packed with information, delivered in an immediately useful way. In fact, they emphasize again and again that the point is to USE the information to REALLY take your "Dream Trip" soon! The Facebook group is the best I've ever experienced with an online course. Stephanie and Chris are remarkably present, responsive, understanding, and generous with their knowledge and experience. I highly recommend this course.