Travel companies court—and reward—early adopters. Look for special sales and exclusive perks on e-mail newsletters and company Twitter feeds. Speak up about your good experiences via social media, TripAdvisor, and other online review sites. (Hotels, especially, track these reviewers.) Use Foursquare (foursquare.com), Facebook Places, and other mobile check-in services to demonstrate your loyalty—and reap the attendant deals and discounts.
One of the hardest parts of service is trying to intuit a guest’s tastes. Help your concierge out by explaining your specific style and aesthetic, says interior designer Lisa Jackson: “When I get to a hotel, I go straight to the concierge and tell him that I really like modern, chic, new, and next. I say I want everything I do to fit into that theme.” Likewise, don’t be shy about telling your sommelier about your favorite recent wines, or letting your tour guide know of your hobbies and interests. The more they know, the more they can tailor the experience.
Car-rental agencies often have more economy reservations than they have vehicles, and are eager to hand out upgrades. “I recently swapped a Kia Optima for an enormous Chevy Traverse simply by asking at the Hertz counter in Baltimore,” says T+L editor-at-large Peter Jon Lindberg.
Keep It Personal
If you’re moving from one hotel to another, ask the manager of your current property to make an introductory call on your behalf. See if the concierge knows someone at the restaurant where you’ll be dining, or if your travel agent is friendly with your cruise’s chief purser. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your social network grows.
Learn the Language
Or at least a few key phrases. “It’ll help you develop a rapport with locals, and can get you insider access,” says Lorie Karnath, president of the Explorers Club. “I recently returned from the Marquesas Islands, where locals opened their doors to me thanks to my French.”
Make a Good Impression
On a large cruise ship with thousands of passengers, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Make a good first impression, and bartenders, waitstaff, and stewards will remember you throughout the voyage. If you do have a complaint or request, address it (nicely) to the staff member with whom you have a relationship or the operations manager for that department.
Note When Peak Season Is
If you want special attention—and the chance for a better cabin—try booking your cruise during off-peak times.