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When you make a booking at www.clubcarlson.com or any of the brand specific websites, you may be presented an option for eStandby upgrade for cash. There are typically several offers available at variable price points and one of them is complimentary based on the status you have with Club Carlson.

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The company behind this eStandby is called Nor1. They have licensed the technology for hotels to better manage their upgrade inventory and get cash for it. The upgrades are NOT guaranteed in advance, but rather at the time of check in. I have seen these previously at Hyatt and Hilton hotels and have written several pieces about them that you can access them here, here, here, here & here.

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So, I was presented several upgrade options at the time when I made the booking for Radisson Suites hotel in Bangkok. One of them was “complimentary” for Club Carlson members. It didn’t specify if this was due to the Gold status, however.

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When you choose the all three, you are then presented with a list of requests that you just made. I canceled the whole thing at this point.

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At check in they had one of these photo frames advertising upgrades to the Premier Suite for 400 THB. The eStandby price for this upgrade would have been 1500 THB.

The upgrade that I received was the one bedroom suite. Overall, I have found these eStandby upgrades to be a total waste IF you have a status with the chain.  If you don’t have any status, you MIGHT be able to get an upgrade for less money than what it had cost to book the upgraded room/suite in the first place. Even then, you may be able to negotiate a lower charge for the upgrade when checking in.

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I have written about how Hilton often offers space available Nor1 upgrades and confirmable upgrades using points during the online booking process. These offers are often also show when you are checking your reservations online.

Hilton used to call these Nor1 upgrades as “Unique upgrade opportunity”. Now they have rephrased this as “You are eligible for custom upgrade”. The technology behind these is exactly the same. You can choose number of different upgrade options that are not guaranteed before your arrival. Each of these carries a different price.

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Here’s an example from my stay at the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur last week. I made the reservation on Hilton.com and was offered immediately points based upgrades that would have been guaranteed on the sport, and these Nor1 upgrades.

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You actually have to click the link to see what the Nor1 upgrade options are. You are taken to a different website that appears like Hilton.com, but is in fact Nor1’s own. On this instance I was presented only two different options, sometime the list of possible upgrades for cash is really long, and chose not to participate.

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The actual upgrade was shown on Hilton’s website on the day of arrival, and it was an upgrade to a deluxe suite.

I see very little value on either of these points or Nor1 “custom” upgrades for cash. I am sure, however, that the hoteliers love the ancillary revenue they provide. I have often received far better upgrades for free than what was shown possible using points or cash. Also, the number of points required for these upgrades is insanely high.

I could see value for someone choosing to pay for the executive room upgrade at this property, if they are not Hilton Gold or Diamond member, when the executive lounge access would be complimentary. (You can get complimentary Hilton Gold after just four stays or having certain Visa credit card) You get complimentary wireless access in the lounge, breakfast, tea/coffee/soft drinks during the day and some sandwiches, and evening complimentary happy hour with open bar and plenty of snacks.

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Yesterday, I was looking to book the Hilton hotel in Colombo (Sri Lanka) where I have been few times in the past. This time, however, the Hilton Colombo and the Hilton Colombo residences were apparently both sold out.

There have been a lot of problems with the Hilton’s website lately. More often than not there are 404 pages, connection issues, and timing outs. Sometimes when the Hilton.com is not working you can use Hilton.co.uk to make a revenue booking. You cannot use the latter website to make an award reservation, however.

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First, when I am logged in at Hilton.com and search for availability for April 3rd for one night, there is none.

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Then when I check the box for Hilton HHonors availability, it gives an option for Diamond Guarantee room at the Hilton Colombo Residence.

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As a matter of fact, it gives an option to choose from three different room types.

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But, when I uncheck the Use HHonors points, it shows the room types that are bookable using cash as well, although these were not supposedly first available.

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I made the booking and was then presented number of Nor1 upgrade options for cash. I always disregard these. These might be worthwhile if you don’t have Gold or Diamond status with Hilton HHonors. (You can get the Gold status easily by following instructions here or here)

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When I checked the reservation today for tomorrow arrival, the hotel had already processed the upgrade to a 3 bedroom business suite.

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Then a week later, they have this same suite for 10500 points as a HHonors Special. Makes you wonder?

Conclusion

There is something wrong with the website that doesn’t first show paid availability when you are checking out hotels. As a Diamond member, I have “guaranteed”room availability, if I book at least 48 hours in advance. To get these rates to show up you need first check the box that you are using points and then uncheck it. Also, Hilton has really made using points for hotels like a roller coaster. At this Hilton Colombo Residence the number of required points seems to fluctuate from 10500 to more than 100000 per night.

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Over the past few years, since I became Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member, I have had in excess of 700 Hyatt stays ranging from limited service Hyatt Places to full service Grand and Park Hyatt’s.

Hyatt has several brands on their portfolio; Hyatt Place, Hyatt House (former Hyatt Summerfield Suites), Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Andaz and few others. There are rarely any upgrade opportunities at the Hyatt Places as they are mostly non-suite properties. Also Hyatt House (Hyatt Summerfield Suites) are all suite properties where [click to continue...]

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Nor1Up-selling seems to be the norm for businesses nowadays. When was the last time you were booking an airline ticket, on an airline website, and weren’t offered some “valuable” extras?

Hyatt Regency Dubai Reservation Confirmation Screen Nor1Now hotels are doing this as well. Of the major chains that I personally frequent, Hilton and Hyatt have both implemented the technology from a company called Nor1 to offer customers ability to buy additional services or “waitlist” for space available upgrade at a price. Sometimes this is offered at the time of reservation, on the email confirmation, or when one is checking the reservation on the website. [click to continue...]