What do a caveman and a modern-day sales and marketing person have in common?
No, this is not a trick question…
Here’s the answer: both ancient cave dwellers and today’s sales and marketing professionals know the value of storytelling.
In the past, people used storytelling to bond and share vital knowledge. Today, the stories we tell are different, but we still use them to build connections.
That’s where sales and marketing come in. Storytelling has proven to be a valuable business tool for hotels, as it helps them not only connect with potential guests, but drive bookings.
You might already do a good bit of storytelling on your website and social channels. Now, it’s time to implement this technique in your upselling as well to keep those conversions coming.
What is storytelling?
Before we look at how storytelling can encourage more guests to take your upsell deals, let’s get the definition straight.
HubSpot has a short and clear explanation: storytelling means using facts and/or narratives to share a message with your audience.
Storytelling can have several different goals, often at the same time. Here’s how this would look for the room booking process.
- Introduce your hotel: the first objective is to introduce your property, services and brand, so guests know who they’re dealing with.
- Create desire for your offer: present your offer in a way that draws your guests in and gets them excited for it.
- Build a connection and trust: connect with your potential guests over the benefits and experiences you offer. Use social proof to show that you’re trustworthy and deliver on your promises.
- Place a call to action: ask your guests to book.
When it comes to upselling, the steps are similar, but you have less time for each one. Whether you’re upselling pre-arrival or during check-in, you need to convey your message as quickly and effectively as possible.
The good news is your guest already knows and trusts you, so you can get straight to the point with your offer. The challenge is creating a concise narrative that makes your ancillary offers irresistible.
How to use storytelling in upselling
Upselling is a chance to enhance and personalise the guest experience even before people arrive at your hotel. It also allows your guests to create their own story during their stay which they’ll eagerly share with others. Guide them on their way to the perfect stay by presenting your offers in an engaging way.
For the best results, use the power of functional storytelling to connect with your clients on an emotional level. As a result, more guests will book your offers and they’ll be willing to spend more on them, too.
There are a few key criteria your upselling offers must fulfil in order for you to achieve this. You don’t have to apply these all for every deal, but pick the tips that go best with each type of deal. Don't forget , it’s important to keep your offers short and to the point.
Create interest and curiosity
Make your offer clear from the start. Your headline should reveal the overall idea of the deal while. You get bonus points for a heading that creates curiosity and gets people to click through to read more.
Your body text must include all relevant details. That doesn’t mean just writing a boring list though. Paint a picture, so your guests can see themselves enjoying your offer, but leave a little room for imagination.
Solve a problem or address a need
Start by learning what your guests want and need from you. Reviews and FAQs are a good place to find this information. Then look at which need or problem your deal addresses. Highlight this in your copy and focus on the benefits your guests can gain from booking your offers.
Let’s take an airport transfer as an example. Highlight how much time it’ll save and how much more convenient it is than a taxi or public transport. This focus on benefits can make even simple offers highly appealing.
Address universal emotions
What do your guests feel while they prepare for their trip? Address these feelings when you present your deals.
For example, leisure travellers will be excited for a fun time away from work. Address this anticipation in the deals you’ve created for this guest segment.
Business travellers on the other hand will look for ways to make things more efficient. Show them how your offers will make their stay simpler and hassle-free.
Stories are easier to remember and stimulate the brain more than a list of features, facts or figures. Use this to your advantage by including a fun bit of information related to your offer in its description. The actual deal can be where guests can learn more such fun facts or experience them first-hand.
Here’s an example:
If you’re promoting a city tour, share a quirky detail about your neighbourhood in your upsell offer. Let guests know they can learn more details like that if they join the tour.
When you’re offering a wellness package, share a related health fact. Highlight how your package makes the most of this and which benefits it brings.
Inspire and motivate
Not all deals have to generate extra revenue. You can also highlight a cause you and your guests care about and give them a chance to support it. This could be anything from philanthropy to sustainability. Outline the positive impact your guests can have to encourage them to sign up.
The ‘Save the environment for a pizza’ deal is the perfect example. Everyone who takes this deal opts out of housekeeping services and gets a free pizza. Guests love it too. They exchange a service they don’t need for a pizza and reduce their trip’s environmental footprint at the same time.
Entertain your guests
Sometimes the best way to get someone to book an offer is to make them smile. Use funny copy and visuals to get your upsells noticed and drive conversions.
When brainstorming upsells, look beyond practicality and convenience. In times like these, we can all use a bit of fun. Not only that, but your chances at building friendly rapport with guests will improve if you demonstrate that, despite offering excellent service, your hotel doesn't always take itself so seriously!