7 Secrets From Former Marriott Employees

Even frequent travelers may not know these tips and tricks.

With more than 8,000 locations all over the world, Marriott receives millions of guests every day. Whether you're going on a business trip, popping in for a quick weekend getaway, or taking a relaxing vacation, there's a good chance you'll end up at this well-known hotel chain or one of its many affiliates. But despite its popularity, there are plenty of behind-the-scenes secrets that even frequent travelers may not know. Keep reading to hear from former Marriott employees about the hotel's greatest tips, tricks, and cautionary tales.

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1
Avoid asking for early check-in and arrive after 3 p.m.

Person Checking into a Hotel
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Have you ever shown up early to a party and felt awkward since things aren't fully ready for guests yet? The same thing goes for a hotel. "I remember so many instances when suites or certain rooms get booked and they're not ready by that initial check-in time," Ashley Brescia, a former Courtyard Marriott employee tells Best Life. Housekeeping works hard to get rooms clean in a timely manner, but if you're looking for a specific room (meaning, you prefer a corner room rather than just any king-bed room), then it's best to wait until later in the afternoon to check in.

Most hotels don't actually allow early check-in, so it's smart to just wait it out. If you're staying for an event, or need the room to get ready for, say, a wedding, then it's recommended to stay the night before so there's less hassle in the morning.

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2
Be nice to staff to get an upgrade.

Friendly and Smiling Hotel Staff
LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Getting an upgrade may be a lot easier than you think. According to a former Marriott employee who goes by @css-swfl on Reddit, "Call the hotel about 4-5 days in advance tell them it's a special trip and you would like to request an upgrade if possible." Their advice is not to be pushy and to "go with the flow."

If the hotel wasn't initially able to accommodate your upgrade, you can also ask about it when you arrive. If there are rooms available and you have a good attitude, it's more likely you'll be upgraded. Mentioning a special occasion like a wedding or honeymoon is also a good way to receive a better room. If all else fails, the ex-employee on Reddit says you can always try to "put $20 in the front desk agent's hand."

3
Sometimes guests get checked in to occupied rooms.

Guest by the Window in a Hotel Room
Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

Multiple room check-ins and check-outs are happening throughout the day, so it's more common than you may realize to be checked in to an occupied room. Sometimes the keys that are made don't get registered, or housekeeping will clean and report that the room is checked out. "What happens is somebody left the room and they took all their stuff with them, so housekeeping will tell the front desk that the room is checked out because they think the person is gone," previous Fairfield Inn employee Jen Mathews explained in a Tiktok video. She advises leaving a few things behind to avoid being run out of the room.

Last year, the Daily Dot shared a now-viral TikTok video in which a bride-to-be and her mom opened the door to the hotel room for which they'd just gotten a key and saw a person sleeping on the bed. Needless to say, when this person woke up, she was scared someone had broken in. It's unclear at what hotel chain the incident took place, and while most cases aren't this extreme, they do happen fairly regularly.

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4
The lower tiers of rewards don't mean much.

Marriott Rewards Parking Sign
melissamn/Shutterstock

The Marriott Bonvoy rewards program has six tiers starting at a simple "Member" and ending with "Ambassador Elite." While there are some perks at each level (free WiFi and priority late checkout, for example) the real rewards only start to add up at the fourth tier, Platinum Elite. "We can acknowledge the points and thank you for being a member, but the status doesn't mean much until you can gain enough points for free nights," Brescia explains. Platinum Elite members receive 50 percent more points on every eligible hotel purchase (the top two tiers get 75 percent).

It's important to note that the point usage varies at each brand and hotel branch. Free nights will be easier to get at places like a Courtyard Marriott or Fairfield Inn and Suites and won't require as many points. However, higher-end hotels or resorts will require a lot to earn those coveted free stays. And do remember, "the high and mighty attitude won't get you any special treatment," says Brescia.

5
Pick up food deliveries in the lobby.

Uber Eats Delivery
DELBO ANDREA/Shutterstock

Whether you've picked up the phone and ordered or used UberEats/DoorDash, if you want to ensure that you'll receive your takeout order, it's best to wait in the lobby.

"Even if you leave your room number in the notes, the food will only make it up to you sometimes," Mathews tells Best Life.

Some front desk staff will bring deliveries to guests' rooms, but usually, you'll need to come down. Many hotels also have safety policies in place that won't allow delivery workers to go farther than the desk. The best guarantee to getting your meal is to keep track of the order and retrieve it yourself.

6
Demagnetized key cards are super common.

Magnetic Hotel Key Card
VTT Studio/Shutterstock

The front desk goes through a ton of magnetic keys each day that are recycled and reset from guest to guest—and it's way easier to demagnetize them than you might think. Sometimes the key is faulty, but a lot of the times a certain object in your purse or wallet could be the culprit.

"If your keycard constantly stops working, double check to make sure you aren't putting it next to your phone before you blame the hotel," Brescia says.

She adds that the card shouldn't be placed near any electronics and while a lot of hotels have moved towards digital keys, the old-fashioned key card hasn't fully left the hotel world.

7
The front desk will know if you have an invalid discount code.

Online Reservation Screen
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Marriott hotels receive third party reservations from sites like Expedia or Priceline constantly because they usually offer significantly cheaper rates, but the hotel chain also has various codes you can use to reduce the cost of your stay. Employees get discounts for themselves in addition to a code for friends and family members, but those require a form to be shown at arrival. There are also codes from AAA, AARP, senior discounts, and more, but using one that's not valid anymore won't get you anywhere.

"Trying to present a code that we know isn't going to be in the system is a bad idea and will only hinder your check-in process," Brescia says. Any form needs to be printed before you get to the hotel and you'll only have particular codes show up if you're eligible to use them, she explains. You will also need to make sure that the form is up to date since they do expire and become invalid.

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