While upselling has been a focus for hotels for many years, the responsibility of carrying it out has traditionally fallen to front desk, with underlying strategy remaining in the domain of revenue managers.
The more involved you get with digital upselling, however, the more you'll realise that its various components have value-adding advantages in nearly every area of your hotel! This is what gorgeous sustainable hotel QO Amsterdam discovered when their marketing manager Marlon Roosblad spearheaded their adoption of Oaky and automated pre-arrival upselling.
Instead of only promoting room upgrades and ancillary services, QO Amsterdam looked at upselling from a marketing perspective to create a memorable brand experience.
Here are three ways you can use upselling to your marketing advantage with share-worthy extras that set your hotel apart. Read to the end for a few examples taken from real customers to get those creative juices flowing.
Offer a fully branded experience from start to finish
Pre-arrival upselling is more than just a chance to increase ancillary revenue. It’s an opportunity to continue the conversation with people after they complete their booking. In other words, it helps fill the void between the reservation and arrival.
It also gives you an extra chance to expose guests to your hotel's branding, tell your property’s story and introduce the hotel in more detail. While sharing this, always use images, colours, fonts and copy that reflect your style to create a smooth and consistent experience for your guests.
Preparing your clients for their stay like this does two important things. First, it deepens your connection with your guests by giving them more things to look forward to during their stay. Second, it allows you to set and manage their expectations. This is especially helpful if you’re introducing your unique concept to first-time guests who may otherwise be surprised by it. They’ll be happier with their stay if they know what to expect and your reviews will reflect that.
“We started using Oaky to capture guest data, so we could communicate with clients in the pre-arrival stage. This helps us achieve our marketing goal of telling our unique story of the ‘living building’ and the hotel’s many sustainable elements. Now, when our guests walk in, they already have an amazing feeling about the hotel and they can embrace the QO experience” Marlon Roosblad, Marketing Manager
After your guests depart, use information gathered by your upselling engine to stay in touch with them. Send them targeted communication about deals and promotions they may like, so you can entice them to come back.
Create cross-departmental upselling incentives
For the best results, involve all your operations departments in your upselling incentive and get their input. Then you can create a diverse list of deals that will offer something for everyone. As a result, you’ll see your conversion rates increase as more guests book your upselling deals.
Here are some ideas for each department to get you started:Revenue management: upgrades to higher categories, attribute-based upgrades (e.g. a better view, early check-in, late check-out, club lounge access...)
F&B: breakfast add-on, set menu, dinner on the beach, candlelight dinner in a suite...
Spa: massage packages, treatments in special locations combined with a healthy meal...
Concierge/recreation: airport pick-up and drop-off, outings, tours...
Once you’ve come up with some basic deals, see how you could combine offers from different departments. The more you combine creativity with practicality, the more likely guests are to book.
Once you’ve been running your upselling incentive for a few weeks, you can meet with your team to go over your results from a marketing point of view.
Here are some points to review:Deal performance
- Check for best-selling and least-selling offers
- Analyse guest feedback on deals
- What you can do to push slow-moving deals
- How you can increase prices for top-sellers
- How to drive sales by increasing a deal’s perceived value with extra inclusions
- Deals that could use a reframe, with more exciting copy and images
- Areas of interest from a guest's point of view
- Deals associated with upcoming seasonal events
- Your staff's personal favourites from their own hotel experiences
- How you can use local events, your staff's talents and your hotel's amenities to create talking points
- How you can update run-of-the-mill deals to give them a wow-factor worth sharing or talking about
Keep your upselling initiative strong by having this discussion regularly. The more you test and experiment, the more you’ll be able to refine your approach and tailor your offers to your target market. Boosted conversion rates and increased incremental revenue will be your rewards.
“Being responsible for Oaky as the marketing manager had a great benefit because it helped bring all the departments together for our upselling initiative. Now, we have a monthly meeting where we look at Oaky’s reporting, discuss our performance and brainstorm new ideas of services and offers we can introduce”
Promote creative deals outside of your upselling initiative
Once you’ve had some success upselling creative deals, get the word out about them outside the confines of your upselling platform. Yes, it’s finally time to bring marketing and upselling together!
Start by sharing some of your best-selling deals directly on your website or OTAs. It can give people an extra reason to book with you because they want to take advantage of your offer. Think of it as creating an extra service USP for your hotel.
When guests book this special service, encourage them to share their experience in online reviews. If possible, invite them to tag you or use your hashtags on social media to drive user-generated content as well. You can repost their photos if they match your style and feed aesthetic. Either way, this will generate an ongoing buzz around your hotel’s offers and create positive word of mouth. However, don’t be too pushy when asking guests to share to avoid dampening their experience.
Examples of share-worthy upselling deals
To get you on the right track with developing marketing-optimised upselling deals, let’s look at two hotels that have gotten great traction with their creative deals.
The Pulitzer Amsterdam offers walking tours led by its expert concierges. They show guests their favourite spots in the city which are off the well-trodden path and full of surprises. As you can imagine, guests love these tours and often book them in advance via the hotel’s pre-arrival upselling tool. To let people know about the tours during their hotel search, the hotel now advertises them on its website and other online bookings channels, too. This, along with the positive reviews the tours get, gives the Pulitzer a new way to attract guests and generate positive word of mouth.
The Hotel Charleroi Airport in Gosselies, near Brussels attracted international media attention for offering guests a rental goldfish for a small fee during their stay. This was quite the sensation and people shared shared this unique offer widely on their social media. Eventually, the media picked up on it too and the hotel was featured in The Independent, Travel + Leisure, Business Insider and several other outlets with a huge readership. Talk about high-quality media exposure - the dream of every PR and marketing team!
The practices of upselling and marketing are comparable in that they both aim to induce delight in target audiences, to the extent that their goal of convincing customers to part with money becomes acceptable, if not invited! With this in mind, successfully combining the benefits of both fields can potentially double up both guest satisfaction and revenue, so it's definitely worth considering. Let us know if you'll be trying these ideas at your property!
If you have questions or need some more inspiration, our team is always happy to help.