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In-stay upselling in hotels: what it is and strategies to sell more (and better)

During their stay, your guests relax, are more open and focused on their needs: in-stay upselling is the right strategy to satisfy them, multiplying sales!

In-stay upselling in hotels: what are the benefits and strategies to start right away | Smartpricing

Your guests have just checked in, reach their room, close the door. Then what? They'll set their bags down, perhaps open the window or adjust the air conditioner, briefly survey the bathroom, browse the minibar, and test the comfort of the bed.

Then they will probably notice your guest folder and the brochures on your desk. Will they flip through them? Absolutely! They'll check the breakfast time, quickly scroll through the spa price list and the new tasting menu on offer in your restaurant.

But then they'll close them, because you know what 65 percent of guests do within only seven minutes of checking in? They connect to the Wi-Fi.

That's where their stay really begins. This is where they will look for where to have a romantic sunset apéritif, where to go for dinner to delight in local specialties, or where to have an adrenaline-pumping outdoor experience. And, before they even leave the room, they will probably have already purchased tickets to the nearest museum or a boat trip for the next day.

If you want to be able to break into this discovery space with your upselling offers (to increase not only revenue, but also guest satisfaction) in this article you will find that in-stay upselling is the strategy for you!

What is in-stay upselling in hotels

In-stay upselling (where by "upselling" we mean the combination of upselling and cross-selling) is the term for one of the specific stages where you can upsell your additional services and products, namely during the guests' stay at your hotel.

This, in fact, is a particularly important time to take advantage of because it has fewer critical issues than the other phases when upselling usually takes place.

For example, budget-conscious customers may be so focused on price that they ignore the extra services suggested during the booking phase (pre-stay upselling), while during the brief check-in phase, capturing customers' attention may require a few extra tricks (which you can read about in our article on upselling at the front desk).

In-stay upselling, on the contrary, takes place in more relaxed moments, when the guest is more receptive because they are relaxed and, above all, genuinely interested in enjoying their stay to the fullest.

What are the benefits (and returns) of in-stay upselling

Upselling always pays off: according to Forrester, the world's leading research and consulting firm, upselling can generate between 10% and 30% of revenues.

Extending in-stay upselling will enable you to achieve these important revenue results much faster, thanks to these 5 specific benefits of in-stay upselling:

1) Create new needs

As much as they may have planned their trip in advance, it is only during their stay that guests have a better sense of their needs. They may realize that they want to take advantage of services they initially overlooked or did not think of. In-stay upselling allows you to "create" new needs in your customers while simultaneously providing the answer.

2) Continuous sales opportunities

If during check-in, it is simply impossible to explain the full range of services you provide, in-stay upselling allows you to break down your offer, proposing the upsell at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way, and in exactly the right place, whether it is in the restaurant, spa, or room.

3) Optimizing resources and services

You may have created an outstanding upselling strategy, but it is only in-stay upselling that allows you to cope with unforeseen events and last-minute changes: a last-minute cancellation for a tasting? Vacancies that threaten to blow up a group activity? In-stay upselling allows you to turn critical issues into opportunities by promoting them directly to guests present at the hotel.

4) Revenue diversification

In-stay upselling allows you not only to multiply revenue during times when your facility is operating at full capacity, such as the high season, but also to make the most of low season periods or times of declining demand by optimizing the RevPAR of occupied rooms as much as possible.

5) Driving expectations (and satisfaction)

By promoting specific services or activities in an engaging way during the stay, you can guide your guests, directing them to high-quality experiences guaranteed by you or the partners you have selected. This will achieve the dual benefit of increasing satisfaction and reducing potential disappointments.

Strategies for in-stay upselling

In-stay upselling presents one main challenge: how can you manage to be always present during the guests' stay, offering the services most in line with their real needs?

While difficult, it is not impossible to succeed. To do so, you will need the full cooperation of your staff and, necessarily, to proceed by trial and error until you have found the right formula for your facility and your clientele.

Here are some strategies you can start with:

1) Identify the right time

In-stay upselling requires a lot of empathy and participation in guests' lives. If you really want to hit the mark, you'll need to be able to not only propose a desirable service, but also do it at the right time. There is no point in proposing a guided excursion at the last minute or telling them about your dinner catering offerings when the guest has just finished sipping their breakfast cappuccino.

2) Redesign the guest folder and brochures

Many guest folders and brochures resemble veritable shopping lists, where even the best services are reduced only to a title and a price. Giving them a new look and rewriting their content, making room for detailed and evocative descriptions, will enable you to spark guests' imaginations and increase the likelihood of sales.

3) Make touchpoints more attractive

Info tables and booths in the lobby and common areas can be useful, but the risk is that they will be anonymous and invisible to guests' eyes. Turn these touchpoints into more attractive places, preferably manned by a member of your staff, where guests are enticed to stop. For example, you could display a small selection of high-quality souvenirs and postcards here, create a mini library of books about the area, or offer drawing materials to entertain children.

4) Ask for feedback in real time

Ask for your customers' opinions immediately after they have enjoyed a service. If the feedback is positive, it will be easier to propose complementary services. For example, if a guest liked the massage included in your welcome package, they might be interested in exploring other wellness services or purchasing a mini massage package to end each day with.

The secret to truly effective in-stay upselling is technology

As you may have already realized in the previous paragraph, the constant presence of you or your staff and the ability to identify suitable moments and methods are vital to successful in-stay upselling. However, this is not enough.

You also need to know how to dose your presence and proposals to avoid having the opposite effect, making the guest feel harassed by continuous and more or less insistent attempts to sell.

So how can you be present throughout their stay without being suffocating? The best way is to take advantage of technology.

After all, as we have seen, connecting to Wi-Fi is one of the first things your guests make sure to do immediately after checking in. A first idea, then, might be to link the Wi-Fi login to a page where they can find information about your facility and your wonderful offers--ready to buy and just a click away.

In a survey conducted by Oracle and Skift, travelers were asked which of the services that became popular during the pandemic should be adopted permanently by hoteliers. The answers?

  • 53.6% prefer a contactless check-in and check-out experience
  • 49.1% would like the ability to make digital payments
  • 39.3% would like to have access to guest services from mobile

In a world increasingly focused on speed, personalization, and time-saving, technology offers you an indisputable advantage to make in-stay upselling not only easier for you, but also more in line with the new habits of your customer base.

That's why a simple action, such as displaying a QR code where you summarize all your best extra services, may be all it takes to save your guests time-consuming web searches and enable you, yourself, to reach revenue and reputation goals that previously seemed unthinkable!

Now that you know all about the benefits and best in-stay upselling strategies, you just have to get started!

If you are new to this activity, the best way forward is to create your offer by following a precise procedure that you and your staff can easily refer to.

That's why we've prepared a practical checklist, with all the steps you need to start in-stay upselling right away in your accommodation.