Trying $20 Trick in India for free Hotel Upgrade

We all have heard stories about people using $20 hotel trick in Vegas and other cities to get free upgrades, breakfast, wine etc. But will $20 hotel upgrade trick work in India?

Before that, in case you are not aware of $20 upgrade trick, allow me to explain what it is. $20 hotel upgrade trick, also known as $20 Sandwich Trick is basically about bribing the front desk staff by slyly slipping in a $20 bill with your documents and talk about an upgrade. You have to choose a clerk with no manager around.

However, I have my doubts if this trick would ever work in India. Let me try to explain why. There are 3 categories of hotels in India. Let’s evaluate each of them for $20 trick.

Independent Hotels

Independent hotels in India are primarily run as family business. There is no concept of upgrades or free goodies at most of such hotels. And the person at the front desk is not authorized to provide free upgrades. So a $20 bill or INR500 or 2000 note, will be just considered a tip and would go in someone’s pocket.

Indian Hotel Chains

These are properties like Taj, Oberoi, Royal Orchid etc. The staff at front desk in such hotels is way too sophisticated and educated to even accept tips. Bribes don’t stand a chance.

International Hotel Chains

International Hotel Chains, especially American, are very strict about 2 things in India. Corruption and Harassment. No employee is going to risk their job for $20.

But you can still get upgrades

Yes, you can get free upgrades at hotels in India. In fact they are very generous with upgrades. You have to try more traditional ways to get an upgrade in hotels in India though.

  1. Book direct. Booking through travel agents or aggregators isn’t recommended if you are looking for upgrades.
  2. Call them a couple of days in advance and inform them about your special requirements, if any. Inform them of any special occasion you are celebrating. Even if there is nothing, still call and ask for details like how do you get to the hotel, any advice etc. Remember the name of the person you spoke to. It helps during check-in.
  3. Talk nicely, smile and show respect. And then ask if you can get an upgrade. Being a member and all. Or first time in the city, hotel etc.
  4. Stay loyal to a chain and you won’t even have to ask for upgrades.

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