FFE Magazine

Beyond shampoo and soap: How to get freebies straight from hotel front desks

Bringing home shampoos, conditioners and soaps is very common – and even welcomed! – in hotels. But aside from bath items, magazines and notepads, did you know that there are items in a hotel’s list of amenities that you can get for free?

                Did you know there are expensive items that may be stricken off your bill?

                There are many items that are up for grabs in some hotels that aren’t found in others. By choosing the right hotel, you can save much more than expected.

Hotel freebies

                Here are the things you didn’t know you can get for free in some hotels, plus tips to get fees scratched out of your bill.

1. WiFi fees may have surprised many a hotel guest in the past. But hotels now know that paid WiFi access will only displease their guests. With more people owning smartphones nowadays, many small hotels and major hotel chains have finally seen the light: give them access and keep them happy.

If having an internet connection is a must during your vacation, choose your hotel wisely. Check if the hotel of your choice charges WiFi access in rooms or if they limit free WiFi use to hotel lobbies only. Plenty of hotels out there don’t.

However, if your bill suddenly reveals WiFi charges, don’t get so mad easily. A lot of front desk receptionists are ready to wave off WiFi charges.

Front desk tip: Ask to waive WiFi charges during checkout as it’s easier that way. If you’re a frequent guest, they’ll most likely give you the privilege without batting an eye. Don’t hesitate to ask staff beforehand if they charge for WiFi use as they often won’t volunteer the information.

2. Free room upgrades are usually granted by hotels that have made a mistake in booking. However, it is also something anyone can request from the front desk as long as the hotel is not in its peak season. The usual rooms that are given for such requests are corner rooms and rooms for handicapped which are more spacious than the average room.

The possibility of being granted a room upgrade depends on a number of factors. A hotel guest who booked a room within the middle price range has a greater chance of getting an upgrade than a guest who booked the cheapest room.

Loyal guests can always ask for this privilege. But even first time customers may want to ask for a room upgrade – it doesn’t hurt to try as long as it is done courteously.

Front desk tip: Timing is essential. Staff will likely say no when you request for an upgrade within earshot of other guests. They will also say no when you try to squeeze in a special request during peak hours, like 10 to 11 in the morning. Asking for an upgrade from 4 to 6 is better since they’d have listed no-shows and cancellations by then.

3. Continental breakfast consisting of pastries, juice and coffee are the most common type of breakfast that is served free in hotels. However, a lot of hotels are now serving hot breakfasts free of charge in a bid to attract more visitors. This is good news to Filipinos who are more used to eating hearty meals in the morning.

Before booking a room in the hotel of your choice, find out if they offer free hot breakfasts and if these are made-to-order or served in a buffet. Some hotels may serve free hot breakfast through room service if you’d rather have breakfast in your room.

Front desk tip: Request for breakfast room service early, before the front desk entertains arriving guests at around 9 in the morning.

4. Having soda, wines and snacks inside a hotel room’s fridge doesn’t automatically mean they’re for free. Minibar charges have been a constant source of irritation for first-time hotel guests who are not usually told there were fees attached to the snacks.

Fortunately, there are hotels now that have executive rooms that offer no charge for minibar use. However, a lot of hotels have done the opposite and removed minibars from rooms. This is because monitoring the minibar has become too expensive for the management.

Minibar contents have also been a source of dispute among guests and hotel staff for ages because of items that are charged by mistake. A lot of front desk receptionists confess that, rather than arguing about minibar charges with guests, they just wave off the charges from the bill upon checkout. Hotel staff will not even try to accuse a guest of lying about the charges.

Front desk tip: Some hotels that have given up minibars often serve complimentary drinks instead to guests who have just checked in. Asking won’t cost you anything. Another tip is to tell the front desk you hope the minibar will be free of charge since you’re checking into a costlier room… the front desk personnel may just grant that to you.

Front desk tips

                Here are some other ways of dealing with front desk receptionists that might just boost your chances of getting rid of those accidental fees from your bill:

Be patient. Front desk receptionists may seem like masters of multitasking. But having to deal with phone calls, customer needs and staff issues with a smile on their face is a highly stressful job. They are paid to do it, but it helps to not stir the pot. Do not demand when making requests and approach them only when the front desk is not busy. Find the right timing and they will turn their full attention to your needs.

Have sympathy. Front desk receptionists man their stations for hours on end. Not only that, they have to contend with unsatisfied customers and deal with tiresome requests all the time. Cooperate and address them in a calm way, even if you just came from a long haul flight. A no-fuss transaction will cap off a great night not just for you but for the personnel too.

Be reasonable. Do not make requests that will compromise the front desk receptionists. If arguments can be avoided, then do so as the last thing both you and the hotel staff need is to make a scene. The hotel staff are there to make your stay worthwhile, but how satisfying your stay will be also depends on how you behave. As the saying goes, lahat ay nadadaan sa mabuting usapan - by talking peacefully, everything will work out well.

Tip generously. Money speaks in the hotel business. This is one of the things every hotel guest should remember – requests coupled with a tip will lead you somewhere. Of course, this also constitutes as a sort of thanks to the personnel who has gone the extra mile just for you to be comfortable.

                Before checking into a hotel, it is wise to know which ones are more budget-friendly than others. But it’s not enough to just compare prices of hotel rooms. Having access to the best-kept hotel services, like those outlined above, gives bigger rewards. It is also a great way to tell how far a hotel will go to make our holiday more comfortable and enjoyable.

                Dealing with hotel front desk personnel can be extremely fulfilling if you know how to talk to them. We know that it’s their job to make our stay comfortable; however, we can also help them if we treat them with the level of respect they sorely need. We won’t lose anything by doing so. Plus, who knows… maybe we can get freebies in the process!


What did you do to get freebies in hotels? Do you have any other secrets or front desk tips to share with other travellers? Leave your suggestions on the comments section below!



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