Exude the positive emotions and behaviors you wish to see in others.
We tell others how we expect to be treated through our words and behaviors. If we act like we desire certain kinds of treatment in a good way, it is likely we’ll receive the kinds of treatment we desire. The key is to put in the work first while you seek to get what you want.
If you want the waiter to give your table some extra special care and treatment, give him some extra attention, ask him questions, get his opinions, and actually listen to his answers. Acknowledge his tastes and recommendations. Ask him good follow up questions. Then, listen to those answers. (If you’re gonna ask a question, you have to stick around for the answer.) Don’t forget the fundamentals. Waiters deserve the same respect as anyone at your office, including the boss. Then, if he performs well, tip well. You know, just like how you’d want to be treated.
Bartenders are similar. Bartending is a busy job, with numerous demands on their time and attention. People whistle at you. Snap fingers at you. Stare blankly at you. Depending upon the context, customers can be rude. Try the opposite. Be as cool to your bartender as you can. If there is time, ask him good questions and for his recommendations. Then, actively listen to his answers. Acknowledge his suggestions. Thank him. Tip well. Bartenders usually have pull at bars and restaurants. They can up your treatment level with the snap of their fingers.
Flight attendants have the authority to grant comped drinks. While they won’t tell you that, they possess it. It is best to get on the FA’s side ASAP. Be as kind and attentive to them as you can. Ask them questions if they seem to have the time. Bonus points for making them laugh and calling them by their first names. (Almost nobody does this.) Acknowledging people who usually feel anonymous at work by customers is a great way to get what you want: free food and drinks, upgrades, etc. While these actions may seem like common sense, I assure you they are not common practice.
Same thing goes for hotel employees. No one is thrilled to wait in the check-in line at hotels and resorts. (Do Mobile Check-in if you can. There are points there.) You just want to get to your room and relax. Nonetheless, the hotel check-in desk is the gatekeeper to the rooms. They, too, have to deal with usual B.S. from their customers: complaints, minor disagreements that turn sour, people pulling rank, etc. What if you did the opposite of that? What if you were attentive to them? What if you called them by their first name? What if you gave them a compliment within the three minute interaction you have with them? Remember: they possess the power. You don’t know how booked they are during your stay. They can book you in the Presidential Suite on the top floor or in the studio next to the weight room closet on the first floor — for the same price! Don’t you think it would be worth your time and energy to be extra cool to the hotel check-in desk?
We can get what we want when we empathize with the plights of others. Do a social experiment and take a stroll in these customer-facing roles to see what a day in their life is like. No doubt you’ve seen some of the B.S. people put them through and what they have to tolerate. If you work in hotel lobbies, you see this a lot. People yelling at the gate agent because the plane is delayed. People upset at the hotel rate because they did not book their stay in advance and didn’t know there was a convention in town. People outraged that there is no free breakfast in the morning and that they have to pay $40 / night for parking. People WAY bent out of shape because the check-in line at the MGM Grand is 150+ deep. But look at the patience and tolerance the gate agents have to have. Look at the patience and tolerance the hotel desk clerks have to have to be successful. Look at how good FAs are always patient, conscientious, and giving, and yet occasionally firm when they need to be. Fundamentals: patience, tolerance, conscientious, friendly, and helpful.
There is no real trick to attaining preferential treatment. And it isn’t because of perceived customer status on the part of the hotel desk clerk or the flight attendant. Sometimes, that can work against you, especially if you pull out your card and thus, pull rank. (Don’t do that — Bad idea.) Instead, be as cool and understanding as you can. Show them empathy. Tell them you know how hard it can be sometimes. Ask them genuine questions about them and actively listen to the answers. You’ll be surprised at the treatment you can attain by taking an active interest in others first.