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Perfect the Arts of Asking & Appreciation
By Lynne Christen

Some travelers always seem to finagle better deals and more perks. It’s all in knowing the ropes.  They look the part, act the part and they have mastered the arts of asking and appreciation. Use these tips from service providers to perfect the arts and reap the rewards.

“Dress to impress” when flying, checking into an elegant hotel or embarking on a cruise.  Today, many travelers show up in baggy sweatpants, their favorite tank top and flip flops and expect to be treated like a VIP. Celebrities might get away with dressing in this manner, but most travelers have a better chance of scoring perks with a polished look and positive attitude.

Act the part. No one likes to be stereotyped as a “Tacky Tourist.”  Yet, travelers who are polite, patient, and pleasant at home sometimes behave in ways that may be inappropriate and offensive especially in other cultures. Etiquette paves the way to VIP treatment. Learn about destination customs and cultural sensitivities. For a quick primer on common courtesy phrases check out or

Offer a reason.   Before making any request and avoid closed-ended questions. Don’t say, “Is an upgrade available?” It’s too easy to be told “no.” If it’s a special occasion you’re celebrating or you are a long-term customer/guest or you usually stay or travel with a competitor, say so and talk about looking forward to trying someone new. Make your request with an open-ended question: “What would it take to get upgraded to the VIP club floor?” or “How can I get an upgrade to business class?”

Make it harder to say no.  A sincere request accompanied by eye contact and a warm smile encourages the provider to want to help.  Demanding and demeaning behavior makes it a secret pleasure to say no.  Never threaten.  Airline, hotel and cruise ship security is tight and perceived threats create major problems for travelers. If a request is denied, be careful not to appear irate; simply disappointed.  Thank the service provider or manager even if they were unable to help.

Be discreet.  Travel providers don’t like to broadcast that some guests are getting special treatment.  Time your requests for upgrades and perks when there are no eavesdroppers nearby and refrain from boasting about VIP treatment.

Build relationships. If you frequently stay at the same hotel, fly out of the same airport, use the same travel specialist or dine at the same restaurant often, make an effort to get to know the staff and remember their names. Show appreciation when an employee goes the extra mile by writing a letter commending their professionalism.

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