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There is a delicate art to snagging a free upgrade.  Whether it's a airline seat, rental car, or hotel accommodation - getting a little more than what you paid for can be tricky.  That being said, there are certainly those among us that have figured out.

One such individual is former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss.  Slate recently sat down with Agent Voss to discuss how successful tactics he used for years to diffuse some of the most incredibly stressful situations can be used in negotiations that come up in regular, civilian life - i.e. when it isn't a life or death situation.

One of the major lessons I took away from the interview was how he used his skills to upgrade his hotel room to a suite with a near perfect success rate, and it didn't include him flashing his badge.

Voss says the secret is addressing the elephant in the room.  To get free stuff, his go to move is to approach the front desk and say something along the lines of “I’m getting ready to make your day ridiculously painful.”

According to the guy who dealt with bank robbers and terrorists as the lead kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and a member of the New York City Joint Terrorist Task Force for 14 years, you watch how they react to your opening statement.  They have no idea what you are about to say next, and because hotel workers have seen everything - so this should prepare them to be ready for something really bad.

While they are waiting for the other shoe to drop, you hit them with: “I’m getting ready to sound like a self-centered, self-involved hotel guest that wants something for nothing.”  According to Voss, this works to your advantage because you have plainly told them what the issue is in a way that they can resolve in their head without further explanation.  You've basically eliminated the problem without giving them a chance to object.

After the realization sets in with the hotel clerk that you are sympathetic to the kind of hassle you're causing, they look at you in a different light.  That's when Chris says you drop the phrase: “How much trouble do I get you in for trying to get an upgrade to a suite for free?” According to the expert, when executed properly - this works almost every time.

You may need some practice, but if you get it down - maybe you stay in a suite at the casino next time, even if you lose more than you thought.

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