White Collar Travel: Accelerate your trip to the hotel club-level lounge

Access to a hotel‘s club-level lounge is a small perk. It doesn’t equate to an ostentatious suite, but does rank higher than bathrobes. The amenities are nice, usually consisting of a mix of free food and liquor, but they won’t change your life. For me, at least, the lure of the lounge involved having a place to go that wasn’t my room. I could hit the lounge with a book and relax while sipping a drink. It beat the lobby, which usually had too much traffic for my taste. If I needed to get some work done, the change of scenery was a plus, and the environment afforded a bit more privacy than the public areas of the hotel.

Unless you pay a few extra bucks for club-level access, though, you can only gain admittance through your status with the hotel’s rewards program. This takes time, unfortunately, as the hotel uses the lounge as a way to thank you for your loyalty (translation: spending). There’s a third way to get into the lounge that many business travelers don’t think to try – negotiation. It will only take a few minutes of your time, and it could buy you several months of comfort ahead of schedule.If you’re on a long-term engagement, you will be a frequent guest at the same hotel (unless, for some reason, you choose to bounce around). As early as possible in the project, contact the hotel’s management and let them know your plans. Explain that you’ll be staying with them for a while and that you’d like to be comfortable while you do. Tell the manager that you’d be willing to make your reservations far in advance and would appreciate early access to the club-level lounge. You may not be able to get a room on the club floor, but that isn’t as important as lounge access.

Before you make your case to the hotel’s management, put your case together. If you aren’t on a solo project, ask the other people traveling with you if they want to get in on the action (they probably will, even if they have no plans to use the lounge). Note how long you’ll be staying at the property and calculate how much you’re going to wind up spending there in room expenses alone. Don’t lead with this number, but have it in your back pocket. In all honestly, it probably won’t get that far: when you tell the manager how long you’ll be a guest, he’ll already be doing the math in his head. When you multiply that number by everyone who is on your project, the result is an incredible amount of spending power. It will be noticed, and it will have an impact.

The beauty of the hospitality business (unlike the airlines) is that it really does tend to be focused on the guest. If a hotel’s management sees a promising business opportunity, it has the flexibility to accept it. As a result, guest loyalty increases, and word spreads. And, it’s not just a matter of dollars and cents. Most hotel professionals are simply committed to ensuring their guests have positive experiences. If they can do something to help you, they will. Giving you early access to the club level in exchange for a commitment from you for a long-term stay doesn’t cost the hotel any real cash, but it sure brings plenty in.

Asking for early access to the club-level lounge could be the best 10 minutes you invest.