This year, summer is coinciding with ongoing vaccinations and a building sense of freedom for travellers. Many countries are easing travel restrictions and hotels are returning to some semblance of normal business.
Using insights gathered from high-performing hotels during the pandemic period, you can revamp your hotel’s reopening strategy to make the most of travel demand from the Covid-era traveller. In this article Oaky’s Head of Customer Success, Saahil Karkera zeroes in on important upselling details to keep in mind for your hotel’s reopening.
Keep reading to learn how to better incorporate guest upselling into your operations, from hotels that nurtured their incremental revenue streams throughout 2020.
1. Attracting guests
As restrictions have still to fully lift, guests today are looking for experiential, competitively priced staycation deals. Competition is high as many hotels are targeting similar sectors and competing for a reduced volume of travellers. Online consumption continues to rise so getting attention for your property via a wide variety of digital channels is paramount.
Steps to consider
- Brainstorm how best to showcase your unique selling proposition
- Impress guests with experiential deals via upselling
- Organise omni-channel advertisement and social media campaigns
- Send newsletter campaigns with your new offers to guests who have stayed before.
- Encourage direct bookings on your brand.com page using discounts, perks etc.
“We invited a writer to write an article about our hotel, which was later published in a well-known women’s magazine”- Britt van Putte, Carlton Beach
“We intensified our sales and marketing strategy to make us the “loudest” hotel in Moscow to support B2C demand” – Irina Sidorovskaya – Radisson Blu Olympiyskiy, Moscow
2. New guests, new expectations
Don’t forget that the needs and expectations of your guest personas will continue to evolve as the pandemic situation continues to evolve.
Ideas to consider
- If you are already welcoming international travellers, consider looking into organising PCR tests for them.
- Use the demographics and stay details of the guests for better segmentation for pre-arrival or in-stay upselling.
- Regardless of demographics, guests are looking for new experiences.If you’d like some inspiration including Covid-safe ideas, Oaky’s Deal Library has several deal templates to make use of.
- Bundled deals are a great way to demonstrate value for money to your guests while enabling you to upsell more at once.
“At this moment the typical portrait of guests is couples, newlyweds, families, small groups of friends, mostly domestic. The international share of guests in the hotel is less than 5%. We understood that the guests wanted new services for reasonable prices so we reviewed old deals and created a few new offers. For example, in the current situation, more people care about safety and social distancing so prefer to have breakfast in their room. We created an in-room breakfast offer to meet this need. It’s popular among couples. The pleasant views from our rooms helped make these deals a success” – Irina Sidorovskaya – Radisson Blu Olympiyskiy, Moscow
“We marketed on social media our packages a lot, both paid and organic, including Date Night dinners, Sleep-in brunch packages and our Love package and that resonated with the market, a lot of staycations and romantic getaways booked” – Jesper Sandberg, Hotel Rival
3. Plan, review, adjust
All rules went out the window with Covid. We found that the best way to deal with the situation was to be agile, reactive and vigilant. Make hypotheses, run experiments and constantly monitor your team’s key metrics, making small adjustments where needed.
“When we didn’t see the results from previous selling strategy, we decided to be more dynamic with room type deltas to offer a guest better option. We created a seasonal room price matrix with discounted room type deltas. Additionally, we overlooked prices for such deals as early check-in and late checkout, breakfast offer and etc. To attract guests to our restaurant we offered free option Book a table and get a 15% discount on all menus. And it works!” – Irina Sidorovskaya – Radisson Blu Olympiyskiy, Moscow
Ideas to consider:
- Align on key metrics for your hotel. Decide how each team can contribute to this, making sure to think from a commercial standpoint.
- Critically examine the performance of all the deals you are offering.
- Review underperforming deals and replace them with new ones where needed.
- Experiment with prices. One Oaky customer let us know that they had been selling room upgrades for twice the price during the pandemic. They conducted an experiment where they incrementally increased the upgrade supplements to determine price elasticity, then settled at a point that seemed attractive to guests.
- Ask for feedback from your guests, digitally or in person. Find out what they would have liked to see or experience at your property. Use these inputs to enrich your ideal guest persona and related upsell offering.
- Covid-time guests are consistently booking higher category rooms. If you’re faced with a scarcity of these rooms as a result, try proactively offering guests a downgrade in return for getting a few complimentary services.
5. Covid-era travellers and spending
An extended period of no travel usually means deeper pockets. We’ve all missed travel, eating out, enjoying a drink in a bar, movie theatres etc. As a society, we have a renewed appreciation for these activities. This combined with growing savings results in a more free mindset when it comes to spending, especially on holiday.
“Guests were ready to spend a lot more than usual for their vacation because they were waiting for it for so long and were limited in travel opportunities abroad for an indefinite period. Many guests arrived more than once – at the beginning and at the end of the season. Demand for higher room types increased and requests for meals inside the hotel were much higher than usual due to limited service of restaurants outside the hotel.” – Natalia Mudretsova – Radisson Collection Paradise Resort & Spa, Sochi
Ideas to consider:
- Guests will want to book higher category rooms rather than lower ones. Manage your pricing strategies to ensure occupancy across all room categories.
- Consider upgrading or adding new premium offerings to your services e.g. Offer a bottle of champagne in addition to a bottle of Cava.
- Use segmentation to show the right deals to the right segment of guests.
- Offer convenience-oriented/creative deals to make the guest stay exciting.
- In the coming period, we may see a rise in the number of families and singles/individuals travelling. Do think of these guest segments, if you want to attract them and how you can cater to their needs.
6. A surprising winner
We thought the buffet breakfast was done for, but a year and a half into the pandemic, breakfast is still the most popular deal for hotels across the world. Many people associate a hotel stay with a lavish breakfast and pandemic travellers are no exception. While changes must be made to comply with Covid regulations, make sure to offer something satisfying to your guests.
“It’s not a secret that the most popular deal is our fantastic Buffet Breakfast. During the pandemic, when many hotels were decreasing the options available to guests at breakfast, we focused with our team on improving quality and perception within the regulations set out by local authorities. This has definitely been reflected in guest experience scores and reputation” – Irina Sidorovskaya -Hotel Name: Radisson Blu Olympiyskiy, Moscow
Ideas to consider:
- If your hotel is using lower (without breakfast) ADR rates to attract guests, sell breakfast as an upsell deal to drive TRevPar.
- Offer a nominal in-room breakfast “upgrade” to guests who already pre-booked a buffet breakfast. It’s all about how you package it!
- Offer luxury or creative breakfast upgrades e.g. Mimosa breakfast or addons like Champagne, for instance
9. Your upselling strategy
Upselling, whether front desk or digital, is a fantastic way to remind guests of what they might have missed during the booking process and showcase services that may improve their stay.
“Prior to using Oaky, pre-arrival communication and upselling had been a little challenging, so the tool has helped us not just in terms of revenue-generating but also enhancing our overall guest experience and exposure of our full offering”. – Olivia Odudu, The Grand York
“In case of e-mailing, the visual factors like the photo, relevant short information or discount tag are extremely important, because that’s what the guest is looking into for a few seconds and makes a decision” – Irina Sidorovskaya – Radisson Blu Olympiyskiy, Moscow
“We added thematical dinners, increased the price for breakfast, Late check-out/early check-in and refreshed it all with “selling” pictures, of course. A nice picture has helped to stimulate sales.” – Artur Gubaydullin – Radisson Blu Resort & Congress Centre Sochi.
Ideas to consider:
- Not every hotel can currently invest in a digital upselling tool. While an upsell platform certainly makes life easier, you can achieve a lot with a well-constructed front desk upselling strategy. After all, there are many ways to upsell well!
- If your hotel does use a digital upsell platform, give your platform a full makeover to ensure all your communication is relevant and up-to-date with the best copy, deals and images you can source.
- Test your efforts. If your digital upsell platform allows you to preview your guest communication, make full use of it to fine-tune your digital experience.
- Make sure to use multiple images of each room upgrade and service. Humans are visual creatures!
As vaccinated travellers proliferate, the hotel industry is set to see a wave of reservations. We are bound to see an increase in new reservations and revenues. These nine insights have come straight from the horse’s mouth and from customers that performed exceptionally well during the pandemic period. Put ideas from this article into play, and you won’t regret it!