Hotel sales is notoriously challenging, but some sales strategies may result in easier sales than you think. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. But surprisingly, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. By leveraging this knowledge and a few key upselling strategies throughout your sales cycle, you can increase your revenue, build deeper relationships with customers, and better utilize your property’s amenities.
What is upselling?
Upselling is, quite simply, offering your customers relevant extras to make their stay or event even better. Upselling involves getting a customer to spend more on their current product consideration, such as upgrading their choice of room, while cross-selling involves selling ancillary products or services, such as a spa treatment or a local tour, on top of their room. Besides increased revenue, upselling offers a number of benefits, including:
- Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty through service personalization and added value.
- Higher profitability through increased guest spending.
- Richer guest data for future personalization.
- Greater utilization of property amenities.
You’ll find that many customers are open to buying a more expensive product than they initially planned, as long as it represents good value, is convenient, and feels like it’s adding something relevant to their stay. So how do you start including upselling in your hotel sales cycle?
1. Identify the right customers for upselling
First, you will need to identify the customers that are good targets for upselling and cross-selling. Not every customer is a good fit for an upsell, and you should never try to push additional products or services on someone who doesn’t truly need them. As a general rule, if you can’t explain how the additional purchase will benefit the customer’s overall goals, then it’s not an upsell worth pursuing.
Take a look at your Sales and Catering CRM and Property Management System to determine your most likely upselling targets. Customer types who have spent on additional purchases in the past are a great place to start. Do you have wedding groups that tend to add extra rooms before the big day? Or do couples booking for their anniversary often order a bottle of wine or champagne from room service? Identifying trends that already happen can give you a good idea of which products to suggest to which customers. Offering more rooms to wedding parties, or the ability to buy a bottle of champagne when you book a room for a special occasion, can be both convenient and valuable for your guests.
It can be challenging to figure out when to introduce upselling into your hotel sales cycle. Since the purpose of upselling is to augment the guest’s experience, it actually has a place throughout the sales cycle, as long as the value is apparent. Let’s dive in to a few areas where upselling and cross-selling make sense for your customers and your hotel, especially to grow your group sales business.
2. Include targeted upsells and cross-sells on your hotel website
Even before your guests book their room or event, they are browsing your website to find the product that will best meet their needs. Including relevant offers throughout your website increases the chance that a customer will come upon something they like. Ideally, you’ll place upselling offers near products that are geared toward upgrades, customizations, and similar value-added features. You can draw attention to the upselling feature on the page using highlighted buttons and graphics, as well as contrasting these offers with other page elements. Make sure to test all of your offers to see which ones result in the best conversion rates.
You don’t have to run a luxury property to offer guests added value — all types of properties can upsell. The key is proposing products or services that offer personalized value to your guests during their stay. Some examples of products and services that can be upsold (or cross-sold) include:
- Room upgrades – a classic option that often converts
- Packages – create different packages of amenities for different audience segments to ensure you’re increasing value for your guests
- Food and beverages – think a dinner-for-two add-on, breakfast, cocktail hour, or simply having wait staff suggest meal accompaniments to guests dining onsite.
- In-room extras – a bottle of wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, movie rentals or premium minibar offerings are all great options
- Activities – additional activities can be offered and run by your property or by third parties through partnerships
Here are a few other ways to increase traffic to your hotel website, in order to present your upsell offers to a bigger audience.
3. Enhance the experience during hotel booking
The final booking page on your website is the perfect time to offer products that will enhance your guest’s experience. Your guest has already decided to purchase from you, and may be willing to spend a bit more for an experience that offers them more perceived value. All of these enhancements should be relevant to your target audience, and personalized with any information you have gathered about your guest ahead of time.
Your enhancements should also match how guests normally use your hotel. If you run a property in a city where business travelers tend to rent a car, maybe offer parking as an enhancement. If you’re in a city famous for its food, consider offering a tasting menu or afternoon tea as fun alternatives.
To draw guests’ eyes towards your enhanced booking options, consider a popup that appears on your website when customers access their booking, or a slideshow that shows various packages they may be interested in. Alternatively, you could use a plugin to automatically place upselling content on the booking page based on the customer’s behavior. An automated solution almost always works more efficiently than a manual one.
4. Partner with local businesses to expand your hotel’s reach
For activities outside of the hotel, you can boost your reach with strategic partnerships with local businesses. For instance, you can offer your guests city tours, day spa packages, adventure trips, or walking food tours that show off your city’s charm. Your guests will feel happier because they can arrange all of their entertainment on one platform, and you can generate higher revenue by curbing a small percentage off of each booking. These types of experiences often improve the guest’s stay enough that they will decide to come back and stay again, giving you powerful boosts to guest loyalty in the process.
5. For groups, frame upsells in the context of a larger idea
For group business, you will often be speaking with an event planner or group organizer ahead of time to plan the group experience. In this context, no one wants to be on the receiving end of a hard-sell from hotel staff. Instead, frame upsells in the context of the event and partner with the organizer to offer relevant ideas. Is the event planner focusing on a fall theme? Maybe you can offer upgraded table centerpieces, decor, or flowers to match the theme. Give organizers an easily understood plan to see where their money will be spent and how an upgrade will contribute to the overall success of the event.
Common upgrades for events include table centerpieces, audio-visual equipment (check out this audio-visual checklist for ideas), event setup assistance, additional room rentals, and coat check. You can get creative with what you offer based on your conversations with group organizers – as long as the offer is personalized and relevant they will likely appreciate your ideas.
6. Fill gaps with the pre-stay upsell email
The pre-stay confirmation email is a great chance to fill any gaps in a guest’s plan. Have they considered an airport transfer yet? What about breakfast each day? Do they know what they will be doing on the weekend days in the middle of their business trip? This is the time to focus on the logistics of the stay, and how you can make things easier for your guests. You can offer these upgrades in an informational way in the confirmation email, increasing your revenue while helping guests in the process.
7. Don’t forget check-in is a great opportunity for upselling
Check-in is perhaps the most opportune time to upsell – especially the group check-in experience. Weary travelers will often add on products or services that will make their stay more comfortable, easy, or meaningful once they have arrived at the hotel. Your reception staff should be proactive in offering the guest the best experience by making them aware of upgrade options and rooms with special features, such as better views, a kitchenette, or a soaking tub. This is also a good time to make your guests aware of any exclusive dining or spa offers or additional hotel services deemed relevant to that particular visitor. Staff should be trained in the soft sell approach rather than aggressive sales techniques so the guest feels genuinely cared for when checking-in.
8. Improve the guest loyalty post-stay through upsetting
You can even upsell to guests when they are checking out and after they have left your property! Your front desk staff can check in on how the stay went during the check-out process, as well as inviting guests to join your loyalty program, or offer them a discount or free breakfast for their next stay. After they have checked out, post-stay emails thanking them for visiting can also promote return offers. Enticing customers to return with special offers helps strengthen the guest relationship, and the opportunity to upsell to them in the future.
9. Use your CRM to identify trends and keep testing to upsell
As you begin to integrate upselling and cross-selling into different parts of your sales process, make sure to take advantage of your Sales and Catering CRM. Your CRM can aid your upselling and cross-selling efforts by providing rich guest data and a history of the guest’s interactions with your property. By testing different upselling offers with different customer segments, you can begin to focus on offers that provide the best guest experience and most revenue for your property.
Now You’re Harness Upselling to Increase Your Group Business!
Once you’ve successfully upsold a few customers, you’ll begin to develop a better idea of what types of customers benefit the most from additional products. Keep track of the timing and traits these customers have in common, and incorporate trends into your sales process to proactively identify upselling opportunities on an ongoing basis.
Remember to offer relevant products at the right time to the right guests, and you’ll have an effective upselling and cross-selling strategy in no time!