Upselling and cross-selling opportunities are few and far between in the hospitality industry. The reality most hoteliers face can be bleak with the rise of vacation rentals like Airbnb and Vacasa. Upselling and cross-selling at the front desk can help hotels compete. Additionally, it enables modern hotels to thrive in this ever-evolving environment.
Consumer trends in the hotel industry are shifting steadily. In the past, most travelers viewed room upgrades as unnecessary. This could have made cross-selling and upselling hard to accomplish. But PWC’s research into the hotel industry found:
- All travelers generally preferred an extra night as a reward at hotels.
- 36% of millennial visitors find upgrading to be the second most favored reward.
Moreover, younger travelers tend to be:
- less fearful of risk,
- more price-conscious,
- And look for fresh experiences at a competitive price.
This means that customers are ready to improve their experiences at hotels when given the chance to do so. The vast majority of visitors don’t interact directly with hotel employees until they check in at the front desk. The first individual they talk to is a front desk operator.
Hotels recognized this as an avenue for upselling to increase revenue from occupancy. When your clients come to the front desk, you typically have the opportunity to:
A) upsell them to a more premium room, or
B) cross-sell them on extra services like spa visits or complimentary refreshments.
The best upsellers and cross-sellers understand their customer’s needs and the reasons behind their travels. But wait, what exactly constitutes cross-selling and upselling, and how are they different?
Table of contents
- What are Cross-Selling and Upselling at the Front Desk?
- How to identify upselling opportunities at the front desk?
- What kind of approaches work in front desk upselling?
- What are some benefits of upselling at the front desk?
- 6 Upselling Techniques with Scripts
- How to improve upselling?
- How does an upselling tool help?
What are Cross-Selling and Upselling at the Front Desk?
Cross-selling is a sales strategy focused on selling ancillary products to current clients. Front desk cross-selling is a strategy hotels utilize to increase revenue by advertising complimentary items.
For instance, if you go to a clothing store to buy a shirt, a sales rep may advise you to buy a complimentary product. It could be a tie, pants, or a blazer that matches the shirt’s color or fit. In the same train of thought, hotels generally cross-sell spa treatments, tourist guides, and access to drivers or rental cars.
Upselling, on the other hand, refers to when sales reps upgrade your product or services. It centers on convincing customers to purchase premium lodging and service upgrades. For instance, you may persuade your visitors to buy amenities like upgraded accommodation before they even check into your hotel.
You can integrate upselling into your sales cycle in several ways. But the best way for hotels to utilize this strategy is by implementing it at the front desk. The trick to upselling effectively lies in your employees’ ability to identify customers who will benefit from an upgrade.
So, how do we map customers to an upselling service or opportunity?
How to identify upselling opportunities at the front desk?
Map customer journeys
It gives insight into the wants and anxieties of potential customers, which directly influence or hinder their actions. By improving customer experience, businesses may increase conversion rates and enhance client retention.
To maximize customer success, it is crucial to:
- Break down the customer journey in a step-by-step manner,
- Connect each stage with a goal,
- And reorganize your touchpoints in accordance.
After all, your entire business strategy should revolve around assisting customers in resolving issues and achieving long-term satisfaction with your hotel and service. This brings us to the next question:
What is a customer journey map built around?
The customer journey map can consist of several elements depending on your hotel’s needs. In general, most customer journeys encompass:
- The consumer buying process
- Understanding and predicting user behavior
- Emotional responses
- Human touchpoints
- Pain points
Hotels most likely need to establish both digital and physical journeys for customers. Businesses should create a customer journey map according to their offerings. Customer journeys online for hotel bookings can be wildly different than in-person bookings.
For instance, imagine an online booking on a website that offers discounts. Customers booking rooms on this site may not wish to upgrade their rooms. Whereas, in-person guests will be more open to different options and upgrades when reserving rooms.
Another way of upselling using a customer journey is by creating landing pages. You can offer value-based deals on your landing page and successfully upsell. This is where omnichannel journey mapping comes into play.
So how do you map these different customer journeys?
How can you map the customer journey?
- Establish definite goals for the map.
- Create profiles for and criteria for each of your personas.
- Identify your target consumer personalities
- Describe each touchpoint in detail.
- Analyze your current and future resource needs.
- Experience the mapped journey for yourself.
- Adjust as necessary.
Note: A critical component of mapping customer journeys is receiving ample feedback from existing clients. Find out what they want from your service and how you can improve their experience at your hotel.
Customer journey mapping can be tricky and time-consuming for all companies. But they ensure a stable route for success in upselling and increasing revenue.
There are several templates online for customer journeys. But these templates may not suit your situation. So create a map that is unique to your hotel’s needs and customers’ wishes. In the next section, we’ll explore the approaches we use when upselling at the front desk.
What kind of approaches work in front desk upselling?
1) Create customer profiles for the ideal customer to upsell to
- Offering positive and empowering customer experiences is essential for front-desk upselling. Customers are ready to spend a premium of up to 13% and as much as 18% for better experiences.
- Two-thirds of consumers are happy to give brands their personal information in exchange for better value.
Using a tool that helps you figure out your ideal customer for upselling opportunities is vital. Buyer personas give your business direction and perspective. Buyer personas can assist marketers with content planning and curation. 2–5 client personas are the norm for most businesses.
Within this, you should create a persona that helps you identify people with upselling opportunities. This can help you circumvent any customers who are unwilling to spend more. Simultaneously, you can reach customers willing to pay more for upgraded experiences.
The hardest aspect of front desk upselling is accurately identifying opportunities. A CRM software that segments and categorizes your guests under specific personas helps your front-desk staff upsell to the right customer.
2) Implement active listening techniques among staff
The top skill or quality that consumers expect from salespeople is active listening (42%). One effective method of communicating is active listening. It improves communication and rapport between the speaker and the listener. Typically, individuals either listen to what the speaker says passively or not at all. Active listening calls for you to pay close attention to the other person’s word choice, voice inflections, and nonverbal cues. This demonstrates to the speaker that the listener is listening. Active listening strategies include:
- Concentrating on the speaker without formulating or coming up with your response
- Indicate that you are paying attention by nodding and making eye contact. You can also paraphrase what your customers say to sum up their thoughts.
- Use open-ended inquiries to extract further details. An example would be a question where you ask them how you can improve their stay.
Active listening is an absolute necessity for front-desk upselling. For instance, when your guest arrives, ask them about their journey to the hotel.
- Engage them in a conversation about their stay at your hotel and their plans in the city.
- Inquire about their expectations and experiences while traveling and staying at hotels.
While you may wish to skip right to asking whether they would like an upgrade, that may not be the best move. Always listen to your guests and figure out if they are open to upgrading or would like to rest immediately.
3) Implement loyalty and reward programs
One of the best customer retention strategies to upsell and increase recurring sales at your hotel is to run loyalty programs. With the help of such initiatives, you can boost occupancy at your hotel. You can, in this way, leverage your extra offerings and forge closer ties with your clients.
- Send them customized emails, for instance, with discounts, rewards, and other incentives to attract customers.
- You only need a reliable guest registry, transaction record, client reports, and a suitable reward management system for your hotel.
- You may create, manage, and administer all aspects of your hotel loyalty programs with a CRM software.
Another way of increasing loyalty is by using the foot-in-the-door technique. This technique consists of using small requests as a way of building up to larger ones.
For instance, when you have a returning guest, you can offer them a minor room upgrade. If they agree, you know they are open to upgrading their rooms. The next time they visit, propose a more premium room upgrade.
This technique can help build loyalty. The guest is then likely to report a positive experience when they review your hotel. Moreover, approaching upselling in phases is more beneficial. In contrast to starting with a significant upgrade, smaller ones can instill a sense of understanding and reciprocity.
What are some benefits of upselling at the front desk?
- Increases guest satisfaction
Studies indicate that front desk upselling techniques can improve hotels’ online reputation. A study found that upselling enhanced visitors’ experience by a whopping 25%. On the other hand, ratings, where a potential upsell was flatly refused by the guests, were the ones that had the lowest satisfaction. This shows how crucial it is for front desk staff to actively listen to guests to determine whether an upsell will improve the customer’s stay.
- Greater possibility for positive reviews
As we’ve mentioned above, offering upgraded rooms can easily boost customer satisfaction. The same study also revealed that upselling significantly impacts the quantity and caliber of positive customer reviews. The study results demonstrate that a strong upselling program is associated with a simultaneous increase in visitor happiness and online reputation.
- Boosts revenue
Hotels that fail to upsell are losing out on revenue. Several customers may be more than willing to spend extra for their stay. But they may not know what upgrades are available and within their budget. Oaky gathered information from 1100 hotels between 2017 and 2019 that showed how much money they made from upselling. The resorts near mountains and ski areas did well in this category. Every month, they brought in an average of €38.39 in upsell income per room. Luxe hotels and resorts with golf and spa services were not far behind. The above numbers are not insignificant in any way. Upselling can heavily impact your bottom line in the long run.
- Better room management
A great benefit of upselling rooms is ensuring the hotel is at full capacity. Hotels struggle with maximizing their occupancy. Upselling a premium room gives new guests the option to occupy the lower-tier rooms. Additional bookings are more likely to roll in for guests booking rooms at the last minute. Most guests booking at the last minute are not looking for premium rooms. These guests hope to find quick, cheap, and value-based rooms.
There are several benefits of implementing an upselling program at the front desk. The benefits given above are some of the many advantages of upselling. If you’re wondering how you can implement these practices, the next section delves into six stellar upselling techniques.
6 Upselling Techniques with Scripts
1) Early arrival upselling
Early arrivals are the perfect upselling opportunity to sell a higher tier accommodation. When upselling early arrival visitors to a higher-rated tier the following strategy can be particularly beneficial. For instance,
“Mr. Diaz, we have a reservation for you in one of our standard guest rooms. Our stated check-in hour is 3 pm, though we’ll try to get it to you earlier if we can. We do have another premium room currently available if you’re interested. It costs only upwards of $25 of your current reservation. These are some features and facilities you can access in ______ rooms. Do let me know if you’re interested in upgrading to this suite!”
“Ms. Lucy, your room is currently occupied and will be available in an hour. In the meantime, would you like to browse some of our other options? These rooms are available and…..”
This technique is ideal for guests who arrive an hour or two before check-in time. Your guests will be open to upgrading when they realize they must wait to relax. You can supplement this technique with our third method, incremental sales.
2) Room reassurance technique
Reassure the visitor that they currently have a wonderful room by confirming the previously reserved lodging. Try to avoid saying something like
“I noticed that you reserved one of our regular rooms,”
This statement makes the selections they’ve already chosen sound unsatisfactory. It can also undermine the image and expectations of your hotel.
Instead, state the following:
“We have allocated a classic suite for you, Ms. Hale, which I’m certain you will find quite pleasant. However, before you go ahead with your stay, we also wanted to inquire about your interest in..”
Continue by displaying pictures of the services and higher-tier suites.
This technique draws the attention of your guest’s choice positively. When you uplift their current room and ingratiate their choices, they will be more open to seeing other options.
3) The incremental sales method
Use an incremental sale tactic where you add a small amount to the existing room’s price. When a guest arrives at your hotel, there is a high chance they’ve already paid for their stay.
This is particularly true for people who made their reservations online within most OTA sites where they had already made a payment. If you can see that you can upgrade their room for a slight increase in payment, say the following:
“Hello, Mr.Stevenson! I was going through your booking and realized we have an opening for one of our deluxe rooms. You could upgrade your stay with just $15 and experience a higher level of comfort.”
Additionally, you can use questions like:
“When you booked your room, did your agent have an opportunity to inform you about our rooms?” to see if the customer is conscious of the higher tier options available.
You could also ask
“Did you have a chance to check out our top suite options when you made your online reservation?”
For instance, your guest books a room that costs $50 per night. Asking them to pay $65 upfront may inflate the amount in their mind.
Instead, by offering a $15 increase to their existing payment, you will prove to be more persuasive. This method employs the foot-in-the-door technique.
4) Offer value-based experiences
Show the value your deluxe rooms offer. Be as detailed as you can. These are some options you can use when giving your guests a better idea of your deluxe rooms.
“In this room, you can gaze out your balcony and see,”
As opposed to
“Premium rooms offer a view.”
You can also say
“As a resident on this floor, you’ll enjoy 24-hour access to our executive salon, which features”
As opposed to saying,
“The executive floor offers a sitting room.”
You can also say,
“As you’re traveling with your children, you’ll love the extra room this suite delivers. It is a 650-square-foot room with a fully functional kitchen. It will also be wonderful to use the kitchen if you want to prepare breakfast or reheat takeout some day.”
The best way to further drive the point home is to show them pictures of the room or take them there. Images can change the game when it comes to upselling. So always have brochures or tabs on your screen for visual cues.
5) The price anchoring technique
Your staff will need to practice the price-anchoring approach to upsell successfully. Price anchoring is when you first offer something at a hefty price before following it up with a significant discount.
Establishing a selling point is commonly referred to as price anchoring. Customers can use this pricing range as a reference while making decisions. Every time you see “$150 $125” in a discount, the $150 is the anchor price for the $125 sale price.
Rate anchoring helps create the idea of getting a valuable deal, which most of us can’t resist. For instance, your front desk personnel can provide a couples suite suggestion to new guests as follows:
“The couples premium suite typically costs $100. We decided to charge $75 for it this week. Would you and your partner be open to trying it out?”
The price anchoring technique internally justifies the purchase your guests make. The price makes people feel like they’re getting a better deal than other guests.
6) Impress walk-ins with your variety of rooms
Always provide walk-in customers with a variety of choices when showing rooms. Without proper training, front desk staff members frequently give guests only one type of room.
Usually, this is the cheapest or most basic room. Instead, give walk-in visitors a choice of lodging options and prices. Walk-ins are more likely to be open to exploring all the alternatives than last-minute internet reservations.
This method does heavily rely on the listening abilities of your front desk representative. They must first ask the visitor if they have a certain room in mind. If a visitor does, they can point them in the direction of a room, if one is available. However, if the visitor has nothing specific in mind, this is the ideal time to upsell.
How to improve upselling?
- Personalize your guests’ experiences
Companies that successfully implement personalization could generate 40% more revenue. Rapid digitization of all customer experiences has led to an increase in customer expectations. The hospitality industry cannot afford to lose customers due to unsatisfactory experiences. Upselling requires a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences. A CRM or PMS can help you better understand your guest’s needs. Moreover, it will store valuable information (such as family size, income, attitudes, etc.) that your agents can use when upselling.
- Training your staff
We’ve already highlighted the necessity of active listening for upselling. Your staff should be approachable, quick thinkers, and problem solvers at the front desk. They should have a good grasp of body language and guest needs. Upselling should not be foremost their priority. Instead, they should focus on providing your guests with the best experience they can afford at your hotel.
- Adding value
A great way of improving upselling rates is by offering an undeniable value for money. Every upgrade should come with a logical reason for its cost. Customers won’t resist an upgrade they can afford if they see its value. Staff members should also truly understand the necessity of an upgrade to help guests feel the same. Upselling should not be a cash grab. Instead, it should enrich your customer’s stay.
- Omnichannel communication
Your customers should be able to reach out to you via any platform or social media site. You will lose out on upselling opportunities if they book rooms through a third-party site. If possible, you should make your hotel accessible across all platforms. Your customers should easily reach out to your staff for inquiries or concerns. This can also boost retention in the long run. Studies found that businesses that excel at offering omnichannel consumer experiences retain 89% of customers.
How does an upselling tool help?
It intelligently classifies visitors to present customized offers at the most convenient times for each client. Improved ADR and frequently even higher occupancy are the results.
These solutions send pre-arrival notifications that are highly personalized. These emails empower customers to add upgrades and services they desire with just a single click.
The use of upsell solutions increases the incremental expenditure per guest when integrated into your hotel’s entire revenue management plan. By utilizing upsell software, visitors may plan their stay and define expectations before arriving.
These tools provide data that results in a more tailored visitor experience. Consumers these days demand this level of personalization and are ready to invest in better rooms. These are just some of the features upselling tools can offer. We’ll elaborate on more features in the next section.
Must have features of an upselling tool
- Analytics and reporting in real-time: this feature should track your upselling journey. It can give you information on how much revenue you make through upselling. Additionally, a reporting tool informs you of improvements you can make to your upselling strategy. These reports can also help your predict upselling opportunities over time.
- Accessibility and user-friendliness across platforms: your tool should empower your employees when they need any information. Information for room reservations and bookings should be available across different platforms. It should be easily accessible on mobile phones or desktops.
- Email automation: upselling tools should offer automated email campaigns, especially during confirmations.
- GDPR and HIPAA compliant: This is a non-negotiable factor when you’re in the hospitality industry. As these tools will collect guest information it is of utmost importance to protect their privacy.
- Segmentation of leads: your tool must segment leads and guests into specific customer personas. This is crucial for your upselling strategy. A tool that fails to segment your guests based on your criteria will decrease upselling opportunities. Segmenting your leads can also help you personalize offers to their unique needs. Hence, always invest in a tool wherein you can segment leads based on your unique criteria.
- Integration of leads: Integrating leads is the process of combining leads from all sources and determining which source generates the most leads. Zero lead leakage is a must when identifying guests who would be open to upgrades. Ensuring that you receive all leads in your pipeline is crucial to the success of your upselling strategy.
- Centralize data: The front desk should contain information about reservations, such as family trips or corporate reservations. The tool should also authorize only the front-desk employees who have permission to view such information. All front-desk employees should have access to such information when working.
- Omnichannel engagement: the tool should help your employees engage and market programs from an omnichannel platform. This offers your guests a frictionless experience regardless of where they book a room. Tracking your guest’s engagement levels can help you gauge upselling opportunities online.
Upselling and cross-selling at the front desk are effective strategies you should employ to open up additional revenue streams for your hotel. Front desk upselling will help you boost client contentment and improve your reputation.
And the LeadSquared CRM is one such platform that offers all these features that a front desk needs for upselling. Book a demo today to inspire your upselling strategies and elevate your guests’ experience!