Upselling to guests, both digitally and during check-in, has long been a focus for hotels. The responsibility of it has traditionally fallen to the front desk, with any strategy behind it put in place by revenue managers.
The more you reap the benefits of 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 the renowned sustainable hotel QO Amsterdam discovered when their marketing manager Marlon Roosblad championed their adoption of Oaky and automated pre-arrival upselling.
Instead of only promoting room upgrades and ancillary services, QO Amsterdam used marketing principles in upselling 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.
A branded experience from start to finish
Pre-arrival upselling is more than just a chance to boost ancillary revenue. It’s a chance to continue the conversation with people after they complete their booking. In other words, it helps fill the gap of time between the reservation and arrival, to stay connected with your hotel guests.
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 deepens your connection with your guests by giving them more things to look forward to during their stay. It also allows you to set and manage their expectations. This is especially helpful if you’re introducing your unique concept to first-time guests. They’ll be happier with their stay if they know what to expect and hopefully 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
Use information gathered by your upselling engine to stay in touch with them After your guests depart. Send them targeted communication about deals and promotions they may like, so you can entice them to come back.
Upselling incentives across departments
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. You’ll see your conversion rates increase as more guests book your upsell deals.
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. Points of discussion should include: deal performance, suggestions for optimisation, new deals, promotion.
Keep your upselling initiative strong by having this discussion regularly. The more you experiment, the more you’ll be able to refine your approach and tailor your offers to your target market. Extra attention on this will have a positive effect on conversion rates and increased incremental revenue
“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” Marlon Roosblad, Marketing Manager
Promote your upsell deals far and wide
Once you’ve had some success upselling creative deals, get the word out about them outside the confines of your upselling platform.
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 deal.
Encourage guests in sharing their experience in online reviews when guests book this special service, e. 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.
Upsells that create talking points
To get you started 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. Guests 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 this unique offer widely on their social media. The hotel was featured in The Independent, Travel + Leisure, Business Insider and several other outlets with a huge readership.
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. With this in mind, successfully combining the inherent benefits of both fields can potentially double up both guest satisfaction and revenue.