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How to upsell in hotels without annoying guests

To sell your additional services well, you need to focus on good timing and adding value. Here's how to do it!

How to upsell in hotels without annoying guests | Smartpricing

If you stop and think about it for a moment, we are immersed in a world where "everyone is trying to sell you something." Pop-ups everywhere as you browse the Internet, social media overrun with sponsored content, call centers calling without criteria: escaping it is difficult, and the result is that consumers have changed.

If they have developed true avoidance mechanisms in their online experience (i.e., they tend to automatically eliminate anything that resembles traditional advertising), in general they have become more wary, aware and independent in searching for exactly what they need.

Therefore, in order to succeed in selling one's products or services, it is now essential to approach the customer in a completely different, less intrusive way: more sympathetic to their real needs, offering solutions that add significant value to their experience.

Taking such an approach is even more crucial if you plan to focus on upselling in your hospitality business.

What it means to upsell and why you should avoid being pushy

Upselling means selling additional and/or more valuable products or services to a customer who is already buying something from you. It is one of the quickest techniques to increase your hotel's revenue, and if you want to learn more, we recommend reading our article on what upselling is and why it may be the right solution for you.

While selling without being pushy is an increasingly necessary skill in any industry, in the case of upselling in hotels it is crucial. A guest arriving at your accommodation, especially if they are a leisure customer, is totally focused on relaxing and enjoying their stay to the fullest.

An aggressive approach to upselling, or one that is not centered enough on their needs, will risk making that guest feel like a mere sales target and will create a boomerang effect: not only will you fail to sell your services, but you may even reduce the likelihood that this guest will return or recommend your accommodation to others.

When, on the other hand, the upselling offer comes across as a natural extension of your commitment to ensuring a memorable stay, your guests will be much more likely to welcome it.

Finally, avoiding being intrusive allows you to increase loyalty: even in the future, your guests will be confident that your offers are actually designed to enhance their experience, rather than out of mere commercial interest.

Upselling requires a empathetic relationship with the customer

To make upselling effective, your main goal should be to enhance each guest's stay by suggesting products or services that enrich their experience in an authentic way. To accomplish this, it is essential to adopt an empathetic approach, allowing you to:

Anticipate guests' needs

This means being proactive and improving the guest experience before the guest even feels the need. This can translate into suggesting an upgrade to a more spacious room to a family arriving tired from a long trip, or offering a discounted spa package to a couple celebrating an anniversary. The key is to actively listen and observe the often subtle signals that guests provide about their interests and desires.

Solve their problems

This means paying even greater attention to detail and a commitment to making their stay as comfortable and smooth as possible. For example, enabling access to a particularly popular and difficult-to-book tour or offering a late check-out if a flight is delayed.

The key to success for hotel upselling: planning

An effective upsell is never the result of chance or last-minute improvisation. Like all sales techniques, upselling requires careful and strategic planning that begins well before guests arrive at the hotel.

Scheduling upsells in advance will allow you to offer your services in a more natural − and therefore unobtrusive − and personalized way, because it is in tune with the guest's needs and expectations.

Define the target audience to whom you make the offer

To offer personalized services that are truly attractive, you need to study your guests thoroughly. The main activity in this regard is segmentation, and to do this, you only need to dive into the data already available to you.

Using your management software and CRM you will be able to divide your clientele into segments with similar characteristics and based on criteria such as travel motivation (business, pleasure, special event, etc.), personal preferences and booking history.

Create personalized and customizable offers

Once you have determined which segments are most relevant to your accommodation, you can get down to the more creative part: defining an offer that speaks directly to their needs and desires.

For example, families with children might appreciate packages that include free or discounted access to local attractions suitable for toddlers, special children's menus at the hotel restaurant, or babysitting services to enjoy a few moments of relaxation (perhaps in your spa).

If possible, make sure your offerings allow some degree of flexibility to accommodate each guest's unique needs. For example, a tasting package might offer not only a guided tour of a local winery but also the opportunity to customize the experience with a wine class or gourmet lunch.

What is the right time to offer upselling at the hotel?

Identifying the right moment to present your additional products or services is crucial to ensure that your offer is perceived positively and not as an intrusion. There is no absolute best time; Everyone will have to find their own, based on the characteristics of their accommodation and their guests.

There are three most exploited moments for upselling.

Pre-stay upselling

To do this, you will need to take advantage of the time period between confirmation of the reservation and check-in.

This is a great time to present your offer because, chances are, your guests will already be looking for experiences at your location or information on how to buy tickets to museums and attractions.

If you're the one to pitch them, the benefit will be twofold: you'll save them time-consuming online searches by directing them to sure-fire offers, while you reduce the risk of finding yourself in front of guests who have already purchased the additional products and services they're interested in on their own.

To upsell before the stay, you will need to set up a well-organized email marketing strategy, with personalized emails to be sent after the booking confirmation to suggest the packages or services you think they might be interested in.

Alternatively, you can share (via email or whatsapp) the link to a dedicated page on your website (via email or whatsapp), where they will be invited to browse and purchase your offer.

Upselling at the front desk

The front desk is traditionally the most widely used moment to suggest extra services, but it is also the most challenging. In addition to the case of guests who have already purchased experiences or services on their own from other providers, you may not actually have the time to propose upselling.

Your customers may be in a hurry to deal with the "red tape" to start the vacation, or you may find yourself with a queue of check-ins to do and not be able to best showcase your offer.

Another key factor in successful upselling is the approach. It is not enough to be friendly and execute customer requests efficiently, you must be proactive.

That is, strive to listen actively to the customer, trying to read verbal and nonverbal cues to intuit unexpressed desires, expectations, and even moods.

If you can make a guest feel completely comfortable and listened to from the very first interaction, it will trigger a psychological principle called reciprocity, whereby the customer may feel more willing to purchase a service, to "reciprocate."

Crucially, at the front desk, you will also need to provide materials that your customers can easily consult while they are waiting or that you can use to introduce the sale in a more spontaneous way.

Upselling during the stay

Whether it is for a few days or longer, you can consider offering your services throughout the stay.

The advantage here is being able to exploit more relaxed moments, when the guest might be more willing to consider a purchase that would further enhance the quality of their vacation.

Moreover, even if they had planned their activities in advance, it is only during the stay that guests focus on their real needs and might appreciate services that they had initially overlooked or did not envision.

Again, your role will be that of an unobtrusive adviser, able to pick up on any signals and, if necessary, resolve any minor hiccups by turning them into opportunities.

To learn more about in-stay upselling, we suggest you read our latest article with 4 in-stay upselling strategies to sell more.

How and why to monitor your upselling activity

One of the best ways to monitor the effectiveness of any upselling strategy is to get feedback from customers. Whether it is through post-stay surveys, online reviews, or even direct conversation at check-out, asking for opinions not only shows guests that their opinion is valuable, but also provides essential data to continually refine and improve your offerings.

Modifying your upselling strategy based on data

The feedback collected then becomes the foundation for any strategic changes. Analyzing data from guest experiences allows you to identify trends, preferences and areas for improvement. This continuous review process not only improves future guests' perceptions of the offering but also helps maximize upselling revenues.

If, for example, the data shows that guests particularly value personalized experiential packages, you might decide to expand these offerings or make them more visible in the early stages of booking. Conversely, if some additional services are not met with expected favor, it may be time to revise the offerings or test new approaches.

Now that you know the rules for effective upselling, all that's left is to apply them according to the characteristics of your accommodation and your clients!

To make sure you don't forget anything, we have prepared a checklist with all the steps to help you immediately get started selling extra services in a personalized and non-intrusive way. Download it now!