During a recent trip to Austin, I had the chance to try out Marriott’s new mobile app. My family of three had booked a four night stay in a single room at the JW Marriott using a conference rate. Since we would be there a reasonably long time, an upgrade was important to us.
Previously, I’ve always avoided using Marriott’s mobile check-in since I worried that it might mean losing out on upgrades that are usually processed at the check-in desk with a live person… after you ask for the upgrade. But, since Marriott has been advertising that their new app will process upgrades, I decided to give it a try. As a Platinum elite, my success rate with meaningful upgrades at US Marriott hotels has been poor, so I didn’t think I had much to lose. I checked in the day before our stay.
The mobile check-in result? No upgrade.
Rather than getting our room keys from the automated kiosk, I went to the front desk to re-check in. The desk agent was about to code our keys when I asked about upgrades. She was new, so she called over a colleague to help. He clicked away at the computer keys for a while and then looked up and smiled. He had moved us from a single room to a two bedroom Executive Suite. Score!
Conclusion: Marriott’s mobile app doesn’t necessarily help with upgrades, but it also doesn’t hurt. I realize that this is just a single example, but I think it’s a good one. It shows that you won’t necessarily get upgrades from the mobile app even if they’re available. And it shows that even if you don’t get upgraded through the app, it is still possible to get upgrades the old fashioned way: by asking.
Going forward I’ll continue checking in through the app just in case it helps. And if the app doesn’t give me a hoped-for upgrade, and if an upgrade is important to me, I’ll re-check in at the desk.