a bedroom with a large window and a city view

Hi, yes I’d like to pay the same price as everyone else, but receive a room upgrade, late checkout, a welcome gift and anything else you’ve got going. Cool?

People are always looking for an angle to get not only the best price on hotels, but also the most reward from stays themselves. For many, it can be as simple as access to free wifi, but if you can have more, why wouldn’t you?

Many people join clubs, book rooms they won’t even stay in to earn elite status and all sorts of other crazy things to make perks real, but for many hotels, the best trick to “having it all” doesn’t involve anything other than an email address, or phone number.

Preferred Travel Agents

Remember paper airline tickets, and physical hotel vouchers, or actually walking into a travel agency office to see people frantically talking into those Gordon Gecko phones? Yeah, those days are pretty much over, but travel agent are far from.

Hotels around the world, particularly on the luxury end, really value travel agents and the amount of guest they can steer into their properties. In exchange, or as a little bit of encouragement, travel agents who are part of “preferred partner” programs like Virtuoso, can add on extra perks to each booking, for guests who book through them.

In most cases, you don’t need a membership, there’s no fees, and you don’t need some special credit card at all! You just need to know an agent, or find one, and with many agents eager for business to get things going again, you won’t find a shortage of options.

a pool with lounge chairs and umbrellas

There must be a catch, right? Sometimes, it depends on the booking.

Sometimes an online travel agency, or direct offer from the hotel website is going to come out cheaper than the price an agent can quote. It happens, but it’s also worth considering whether the perks the agent has attached with their booking outweigh the price difference.

Also, the city matters. Places where hospitality is a big thing tend to have the best deals, like Las Vegas, Dubai, Orlando, Hong Kong, Miami and that style of destination. More business centric areas tend to be less rewarding.

But that’s all chat, this simple trick only really begins to opens eyes with real examples, so why not put the money where the mouth is, right? Let’s take Las Vegas.

a bedroom with a large window and a city view
Delano Suite. Courtesy of SBE Hotels.

The five star Delano MGM Las Vegas has a “Delano King Suite”, with 725 square feet of space, floor to ceiling windows and a seating area for $126.40 per night, with all taxes and fees included. That’s pretty much the same price you’d find on an online travel agency with no perks added or included.

But, if you book via a “Preferred Agent”, the benefits are almost laughably amazing right now. Even on a $126 one night stay, here’s what’s included with a Virtuoso rate…

  • $100USD Food & Beverage Credit
  • (2) $30USD Breakfast Credits
  • Upgrade (from your already amazing suite)
  • Early Check In
  • Late Check Out
  • $5 Wifi Credit

Yes, you’re effectively paying $126 to get $160 plus in benefits back, even on a one night stay. And that’s really where some of the magic is. Shorter stays tend to offer amazing benefits, just like longer stays.

If staying longer matters, these preferred agents also regularly have access to private offers we can’t always just pull up on our own, such as third night free. It’s always a good look to comparison shop between direct booking and your favorite online travel agency too, but in instances such as this, benefits from a Virtuoso or other preferred travel agent are impossible to beat.

So, the obvious question. Where do I find a good agent with access to this stuff? There are thousands upon thousands, and any agents are welcome to leave their details and anything worth knowing in the comments.

If you have the Amex Platinum Card, which has a bonus of up to 225,000 points right now if you don’t, you can also find similar benefits through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, which you can search online. Chase has an option as well, with Chase Luxury Hotels, offering its own set of booking benefits, as do most Mastercard’s.

If you’re not on the credit card game, and prefer to enjoy these “preferred agent” perks via a respected agent, our friends Adam Corin of Travel Counsellors, and Michael Trager of TravelZork are both top quality, each with their own booking specializations. These are just two of many, and with travel in a slowdown, any agent will appreciate the buzz.

And again, if you’re an agent, drop your details below!

Fine Hotels & Resorts

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I’m sold on Virtuoso. Booked a London hotel for 2 nights next July (pending vaccine availability) and will have room upgrade if available, afternoon tea, breakfast plus other benefits.
    Good article and my experience mirrors your assertions.

  2. How do i find, join or use Virtuoso agent….never heard of any of this Gilbert. Now you have me interested!

    1. The two people linked in the post are capable of helping, as are any people who leave their details in here. It’s not something you can book yourself, but they can get quotes and book for you!

  3. Great insight on maximizing your stay without having a points card. I’ll go a step further and say even if you have a points card (I have AMEX Platinum) the perks I get through Virtuoso are above and beyond. I’ve been upgraded more often, received more credits and amenities, and have had an easier time managing check in/out and hotel services with my Virtuoso agent than with AMEX. AMEX was, and still is, great, and the right Virtuoso agent is even better. My agent is Kristen Sandvig, with Lionhound Travel. She splits time between Houston and Paris and responds to me within 24 hours (faster if I’m traveling). kristen@lionhoundtravel.com

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