Depends on HOW IMPORTANT it is to you to get the upgrade.
Rule #1: if you have to have an upgrade - book it with cash, only assured way of knowing ahead of time.
Rule #2: if you wish an upgrade or hope for an upgrade, review rule #1.
Seriously - there is no way to assure an upgrade or improve on your chances. Even as Platinum Premier for 10+ years in a row, it is hit and miss. However, if you believe there are upgrades available at check-in AND you are willing to ask at the desk, a) flash your status (higher the status, in theory the better your chances), and b) request with a smile.
What works best for me when I very much want an upgraded room is to simply book that room. Yeah it may cost more but assures you that you'll have what you want not replying on hotel occupancy when you check-in, and since I put away some "slush funds" for this each year I don't even notice the higher rate.
Another way I've had relatively good success is to book the rate you want and then a few weeks out call the hotel and speak with the front desk manager to ask for what you would like room wise and see what happens at check-in. Almost without fail we have been pleasantly surprised with the result however; it may have to do with elite status also.
Update on UPGRADES: I recently noticed in the Platinum benefits descriptions, new definitions (and then read a concise flyertalk write up on a similar theme about upgrades) - here's the revised/current language on what is considered an UPGRADE. You of course, can go after any room you want, but I didn't want any Insider to be on the wrong side of the definition;
Current (changed) wording: "For Platinum Elite members the best way is up! Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member's personal guestroom, we’ll do our best to upgrade your room. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites, subject to availability identified by each hotel. See terms and conditions for details."
Note--no language limiting upgrades to next best room, so shoot for the moon if you so desire - but know the parameters
Here are the terms and conditions:
"Complimentary Room Upgrade: Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member's personal guestroom. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites. All upgrades are granted on a space-available basis, as determined at the time of check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability and identified by each hotel. Not available at Marriott Vacation Club."
In summary, with terms this broad, it comes down to your charm and their interest - don't try any DYKWIA silliness (not that Insiders do) you'll not only reduce your chances, but you'll be on the wrong side of the discussion as well. I anticipate further refinement of elite benefits to remove 'gray' area latitude, with a no nonsense, no explanation strategy from Marriott - they have all the current leverage and they have learned that when they try to put a spin on their revisions, they just dig themselves into a deeper customer relations hole. Welcome to the world of "Travel Brilliantly".
SPOT ON erc
!!! A few weeks ago, I was checking in the CY I have stayed in weekly since April and for some strange reason I decided to try for an upgrade. With a big smile and in a bit of a jokingly way, I said, "Hey... Does my Gold status get me a room upgrade?" and ended with a little chuckle. Next thing I know, she's changing the room number on my key card holder and I wind up in a very nice two room suite (According to the bartender, the second best room in the hotel, and she knows...) TOO much room for me, so I don't even ask since they have put me in the same room type/area every week 90% of the time. Any front desk person with just a few weeks under his belt will soon learn how to handle the DYKWIA types and "upgrade" them to a broom closet just over the dumpster... Just know that if you ask with a smile and don't take an attitude, you are more likely to get an upgrade during check-in. BUT... Don't expect the presidential suite just because you asked.
Erc - with all the options of what is considered an upgrade, all a property has to do is meet any one of the suggestions (i.e., anything but a suite satisfies as an upgrade - keeping their "promise"). Which brings me back to the original point of why I have been frustrated with MR is that I cannot guarantee a suite on points and any of the lesser "upgrades" is what I am likely to get.
You get more bees with honey. I have spent half my career in the service industry and being pleasant and polite (and having a sense of humor) goes a long way towards getting what you want. I was in a long line of complainers once when a flight was cancelled and when I got to the front of the line, I mentioned to the agent that he must be tired of being blamed for the weather (or whatever it was that was causing the problem) and I was sorry he had to take all the flack he was getting - he perked up, smiled at me and said "First Class for you!" - I had no status with this airline so he had no reason or need to upgrade me, but I sure was happy about it! It was just from acknowledging the situation and emphasizing with him. We are all human - treat others as you wish to be treated and let the good stuff flow. I know from my old service industry days that the "do you know who I am?" backfires in a way you don't want to know about.
I agree that if you want a particular room simply book with cash. However if the upgrade is really important to you I have found that contacting the GM or front desk manager at least a week or so in advance is the best way. Since you are platinum they would absolutely work with you.
ks77 - Here's the best part - on all five occasions, the very day I got my "non-suite room" I would log in to Marriott reservations as a "guest" rather than my username to see if I could have booked the suite with cash. On all five occasions, a suite was available for cash.
I believe you...when you boil it down they would rather have 3 suites go unoccupied on the longshot that someone will purchase it last minute than give say 2 of them to elites and leave one for a possible last minute purchase. As Pesci said in Casino, "It's always the dollars."
I have been staying with Marriott for over 10 years. Of those, I have been Platinum Elite for 4 plus years.
When I arrive at any location, I am usually recognized and treated as their most special guest.
I simply smile and ask if there are any upgrades available.
Most of the time I get upgraded and sometimes a free meal.
But, it always helps when you check in as Jon Stewart.
Domestically have not experienced upgrade to standard concierge level room (if available). That said, the upgrades that were common to me (Platinum) of a deluxe corner room, or junior suites (again when available) has completely disappeared)
There has been a proliferation of Elite membership and it is obvious that many hotels just don't care. One hotel manager that I talked to said that there are nights when 25% of the hotel are elite members. That, I believe is the problem.
in my experience as a platinum member, if you arent automatically upgraded when you check in, just ask nicely and politely for your request. Remember an upgrade could be a bigger room, a room with a view, high floor, couch, etc.
Dont throw your weight around, do not tell them you spend 200 nights a year in a hotel because soooooo many are gold or platinum members nowadays.
Like i said, in my experience, i just tell them "this is my first time at your hotel, do you have any rooms available on a high floor with a view of the park" and you should get it.
This is ON Topic and OFF topic, but here goes. Many of us consider an upgrade being moved up from a single room to a suite. In reality, Upgrades take on several different looks. Some times it's a room with a view, or a higher floor room, or a corner room, etc.... Sometimes we take those upgrades for granted. Not any more! I checked in to the Renaissance Hotel 57 in NYC this week and my key packet was actually inside ANOTHER packet. It was a shiny black packet that said something like "welcome to your upgrade", or "enjoy your upgrade", or something like that. My upgrade happened to be from a single to a mine-suite, but either way, the envelope forced me to recognize the upgrade. I think it is a great idea to remind us of those upgrades we get. thoughts?