Consistently providing guests with excellent services during their stays is important, but hoteliers should also ensure guests have outstanding interactions throughout the booking journey, and use relevant tools to offer attractive upgrades to their guests, to secure repeat business and long-term relationships.
Before creating upselling opportunities, you need to take advantage of the data insights from your guest feedback to better understand what your guests want. It’s best to optimise your tech stack with an online reputation management solution, along with upselling software (which often comes integrated with property management or customer relationship management systems), because this can transform the strategies you use to make the right upsell offers, to the right people, and at the right time.
1. There is no “quick fix” to upselling for more revenue
Finding the right elements to offer as upgrades is not as simple as opening Google; searching “How to upsell hotel guests”; and shooting in the dark using any search result you like as a method (although this amazing list by upselling experts Oaky is a great place to start).
Firstly because, even if you find what may seem to be an endless amount of ideas to try out, you’ll notice that a lot of information on upselling relies on a largely front-of-office approach. But many hospitality professionals have noticed customer facing interactions are gradually taking a back seat, with guests and staff preferring contactless tech options where possible.
There’s no blanket approach to upselling hotel guests, it's actually very subjective. Hotels have different key performance indicators to consider, along with having different guest segments, value propositions, primary service ratings and amenities to adjust for, not to mention the fact that some hospitality industry benchmarks have changed in recent months.
The tactics and tools you choose can make or break repeat business and long-term relationships, and feedback technology keeps you as far as possible from playing the guessing game with your valued guests. You need to do your research, and apply yourself according to what works for your property’s scenario.
2. Be specific with the value of your upgrades
There’s no point in exaggerating how great your hotel is online if you can’t deliver on-site; it puts your reputation at risk, much like overpricing. You need to manage guest expectations according to what you can deliver exceptionally for your rates, and this means being clear in defining and displaying exactly what you provide. All your upgrades and ancillary services need to be succinctly described, and supported by all the relevant images and attractive messaging about what differentiates your upgraded packages, to show what exactly makes it worth spending an extra few bucks for the room with the best view, or add-ons to your normal service.
For example, you could offer upgrades with a late night food and beverage room service, early check-ins or late check-outs, workspaces, in-house doggy daycare (if you’re pet friendly), or discounts at local attractions. These offers all sound attractive in general, but instead of casting a wide net with everything you have on offer, put yourself in a position to appeal to your prospective and existing guests strategically. If you don’t know the kinds of people you attract, their preferences, who they’re coming with, why they’re in town, and for how long - how will you know if any of what you’re offering will be valuable to them? It all goes back to guest feedback management.
The clarity of knowing who to attract and what to offer them, is backed by the feedback your guests give on what they enjoy most during their stay, and what you may need to improve on. Guest feedback combined with upsell technology can show you which demographic groups to target with certain activities and amenities, which platforms to focus on engaging them, how to communicate eloquently with them, at the right timing, and also which price point will put you in a great spot competitively.
3. Choose your upselling setup wisely
Many hotels still rely on telephonic upselling because of a less tech-savvy client base, but face-to-face upselling can be used in tandem with technological solutions according to the situation. There are many options when it comes to the tech solutions you can use to upsell your guests, and they have different suitabilities for different properties, even though they share the goal of upselling clients. What matters is doing your research to find which solutions would be sustainable for your hotel, and compatible with your guests.
Certain solutions may provide quicker results if the hoteliers using them have a wider database of repeat business, but the success relies on how well your offers are targeted and timed. Another factor to consider is whether you would like to focus on upselling your guests pre-stay, during, or post-stay. Some solutions provide these services throughout the booking journey, which cushions the trial and error element of upselling at particular booking stages.
For independent hotels who don’t have too many mind-blowing amenities or ancillary services to offer, but are still looking to save some of the money that usually goes to third party commissions (online travel agencies), it may be worthwhile to look at options to create digital loyalty cards with member benefits that ensure repeat business from guests. This is the kind of tech solution that pulls data from your reputation management system, and creates profiles for each guest to get personalised messaging that encourages them to book again, to unlock certain discounts and points for their loyalty to your brand.
There are also upsell technologies that are triggered on proximity to certain amenities on site, where for example, a guest leaving your golf course after their session would get a prompt sent directly to their WhatsApp, advertising your food and beverage specials available exclusively to them. Personalisation and convenience are the game, and technology is revolutionising how it’s done right.
There are many ways to increase your revenue by upselling your experience, but the most important way should always be putting the guest’s benefit at the center. Nobody likes a ‘hard sell’, but everyone likes options. It’s up to you to present them to your guests in meaningful and thoughtful ways to make sure you’re always an option they want to look into. Find technological solutions to bridge the gap between what guests want, and what you have, without being intrusive or harming the potential of long-term guest relations.