However, there is a big difference between simply understanding the need for upselling and putting the right upselling techniques into practice for your hotel and guests.
In this blog post, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about upselling in hotels, pitfalls to avoid, and fifteen tried-and-true techniques that help hoteliers earn more revenue.
What Is Upselling in the Hotel Industry?
Put simply, upselling means encouraging your guest to spend more money by offering them additional amenities and services at any point throughout the guest journey.
But there’s a balance to be had. Guests don’t want to feel price-gouged and guilty. The trick is to make them feel as if their stay was made all the more enjoyable because of the add-ons they purchased.
If upselling is done well, both the guest and the hotel will benefit. It leads to an increase in guest satisfaction and loyalty, and overall revenue. It also helps build a richer compilation of guest data.
What Should Hotels Upsell?
There are many creative add-ons, services, and off-property activities hotels can upsell. Some of these will only be feasible at full-service properties, while others can be leveraged by lodging properties of any size and type.
The Difference Between Upselling, Cross-selling & Suggestive Selling
“Upselling” is an umbrella term that includes cross-selling and suggestive selling. These are fantastic methods to help your staff steer-clear of pushy sales tactics, but still ensure an increase in your top and bottom lines.
Cross-selling is offering a product or service that is compatible with something they’ve already purchased. An example of this could be a spa receptionist who suggests a facial in addition to the guest’s massage. Or a waiter who recommends a bottle of wine to go with their steak.
This method is all about enticing the guest, subtly, into purchasing something extra by planting a seed. Perhaps a guest tells the receptionist they’ll be going into the city in the morning. The receptionist mentions that a lot of guests like to rent bikes and have a lot of fun. The next morning, the guest goes downstairs and rents a bike. Et voila!
Rules To Remember When Building a Hotel Upsells Plan
Upselling has huge benefits, but that doesn’t mean anything goes at all times. There are rules and best practices that should be followed to achieve the best results.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind when putting together a hotel upsells plan:
There really is no point in the guest cycle when upselling is completely off limits: Consumers today are generally open to engaging with upsell offers at any time — from pre-stay through checkout and post-stay — provided they are packaged and presented thoughtfully.
Front desk upselling works — but timing is important: Avoid trying to upsell when it’s busy. Not only will it be less effective, it could also irritate guests and waste your receptionists’ time.
Giving guests too many options: You may think that giving guests a wide range of upsell and upgrade options will yield better results. The American Psychological Association disagrees. Giving consumers too much choice can lead to “pain, regret, worry about missed opportunities and unrealistically high expectations”. Sometimes, less is more.
15 Upselling Techniques for Hotels To Make More Money
1. Get To Know Your Guest Segments
Most hotels attract a variety of guest types. Among these, interests and preferences tend to differ, which means tailoring your upsell offers based on these profiles will increase your chances of success.
For example, while families with kids might opt for connecting rooms and fun activities, business travelers may opt for early check-in or an airport transfer.
It’s important to understand what motivates your guests to stay at your hotel. This helps you ensure you’re always offering the right upsell options to your most valuable types of guests.
2. Begin Selling Before Arrival
Pre-arrival is one of the best times for upselling-success. This is because travelers will be looking for ideas for their trip shortly before arrival.
There are a few ways to capitalize on this key moment of high buyer intent:
Send out a personalized email containing three or four offers.
Use technology such as upselling software to send offers out pre-stay via text message, WhatsApp, or email
Use contactless check-in software that integrates upsell offers to provide check-in experience that enables guests with more power to curate their stay. Not only will this option increase sales, it can also reduce front-desk work by up to 50%.
3. Partner With Local Businesses
What kind of activities are popular in your area? From walking tours, boat trips, and mini golf to wine tasting and spa packages, partnering with local businesses will give you more upsell options.
By providing options such as these, guests will enrich their experience and attribute their fun and enjoyment to you. You’ll also be encouraging consumers to “buy local” which is never a bad thing.
4. Promote Special Offers While Guests Are On-Property
As pointed out earlier in this blog post, upselling can (and should!) occur throughout the guest cycle, from pre-stay to post. However, doing this effectively can be tedious and hard to scale.
Fortunately, upselling software like Canary Upsells allows you to send out offers throughout the guest journey via text and email. The solution also allows you to customize offers, prices, and blackout dates, as well as approve and deny individual upsell requests.
Want to increase revenue, efficiency and guest satisfaction?
Handling the post-stay phase of the guest journey right might just earn you a loyal customer. From checkout, you can begin to offer add-ons and services should the guest decide to come back.
Utilize email — and possibly even direct mail — marketing to push out poignant messages with special offers. It’s important that these upsell offers acknowledge how much you appreciate your guest and want them to return to the property. For example, it may be a good idea to offer a special rate for a higher quality room than the one they previously stayed in. This entices the guest to return and helps the hotel keep its occupancy rate up.
Think of ways you could improve their events. Upgrading their event space, or providing faster internet could win you loyalty and more revenue.
Make it clear that you understand their event’s theme and format by upselling related add-ons. If it’s a hybrid event with an in-person and virtual audience, offer audio visual options and services for a discount.
7. Find Trends & Test
Use your customer relationship management (CRM) system and/or property management system (PMS) as a guide when strategizing your upsell process. Look for trends in your guest data. Did certain offers work better in the summer versus the winter? What offer resonated more with what guest segment? For example, maybe groups are opting for a faster WiFi package.
Understanding your data and trends will allow you to create effective tests that tell you what works best and when. This is especially true with completely new add-ons or services when you aren’t certain how they will perform.
8. Integrate Your Systems
Manual data entry isn’t just tedious, it’s risky. There’s nothing worse for sales and marketing teams than a CRM full of inaccurate information.
Integrating your upselling software with your CRM or PMS reduces the need for manual data entry, and improves upsell campaigns.
When systems are connected through seamless integrations, data collection is quicker and more accurate, which enables you to analyze trends effortlessly.
9. Incentivize Staff Members
While you don’t need to incentivize your staff to sell, let the following stat sink in: 90 percent of top performing companies use a sales incentive program, according to the Incentive Research Foundation.
Providing a bonus for the employee who sells the most add-ons in a given month or generates the most revenue could bolster productivity and encourage employees to work on their sales techniques.
10. Use Guest Messaging Technology to Upsell
Guest messaging technology can have a tremendous impact on guest satisfaction for a number of reasons. One reason being that hotels can use messaging to remind guests of offers or add-ons throughout their stay.
Canary Messaging allows you to send broadcast, direct and AI messages to guests throughout their stay, saving time for your staff. What’s more: guests can contact you through SMS or WhatsApp without the need to download any new apps. And the hotel can use its existing landline phone number!
Want to streamline your communication with guests?
11. Provide Front Desk Staff With Scripts & Training
Selling can be difficult — even for seasoned front desk professionals! Whether you opt for upselling software or not, give your staff the skills they need to sell well. A couple best practices include:
Maintain eye contact, smile, and be confident (but not overly).
Be aware of your guests’ moods, reactions, and body language. They might be irritated or tired.
Ask open questions to discover what they expect from their stay. Or, ask if they have any special requests.
12. Rate Frame
We all want to grab a bargain and your guest will be no different! When mentioning special offers on room upgrades or extras, rate framing is a great way to win a sale.
Begin with the original, higher price, then swoop in with the lower price deal. For example: “Usually our deluxe suite costs $499, but right now it’s $399.”
13. Confirm Primary Purchase Benefits Before Upselling
Nobody wants to regret a purchase. We want to feel as if we’ve nabbed an exceptional deal, which is why hoteliers should ensure that any staff member that may be engaged in upselling always attempts to reconfirm a guest’s previous choice positively before presenting a new upsell option.
Reminding guests of the value they’re already receiving is a great way to prime the pump on their next purchase.
Here’s an example of how a staff member might reaffirm a guest’s primary purchase:
“I see you’ve booked our Gardenview Suite. Wonderful choice, you’ll love it! Would you like to upgrade to our Seaview Suite? It’s available for an extra $29 per night.”
14. Special Requests
Sometimes, you don’t even need to work hard to upsell. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask, “Do you have any special requests?”
Some guests may instantly ask for something like an airport shuttle, but some may take a little extra coaxing. This is where more specific questions come in handy.
Ask if the guest has any dietary requirements or whether they’re traveling with kids, for example. Ask business travelers if they’d like to upgrade to a room with a workspace.
15. Incremental Quotations
When offering room upgrades and special deals, mentioning only the incremental price will increase the offer’s affordability and appeal.
For example, instead of saying “For $350 a night you could upgrade to our Seaview Suite,” you could say “Would you like to upgrade to our Seaview Suite? It’s available for an extra $29 per night."
Make sure to highlight the extras they’ll get if they upgrade and show pictures and videos if you can. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they see what they’ll be getting.
Can Upsell Software Outperform Hotel Staff in Sales?
In many cases, hotel front desk upselling is less effective than using upselling software like Canary Upsells to drive more revenue per guest. Hotel front desk agents aren’t necessarily sales people, but upsell software is specifically designed to help increase a hotel’s bottom line.
Because upselling software integrates into the check-in flow and automates the entire process, the pressure to sell is taken off of front desk agents. This means hotel staff can spend more time on other important tasks and upsell more naturally when the opportunity arises.
What’s more: upselling software can increase revenues by anywhere from $1,000-$10,000 per month depending on the type and size of the hotel.
Easy to use: You should make it as easy as possible for guests of all ages to purchase add-ons, without having to download yet another app.
Automation: Sending out offers at various points in a guest’s stay when they’re most likely to buy is important. Does the software help automate this?
Customization: Can your staff easily customize and make changes to offers? Are they able to approve or deny upsells based on availability?
Integration: Can the software integrate with other systems like your property management system (PMS)? This is critical to ensure a smooth upsell process.
Reporting capabilities: A benefit of upselling software is that you can identify trends over time. Use software that includes reporting capabilities so you can track and adjust offers as needed.
Upselling should be an integral part of your hotel’s revenue management efforts.
By using the right upselling techniques for your hotel — whether it’s upselling software, staff training or price testing — you’ll begin to see an increase in revenue and customer satisfaction in no time.
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