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Upselling at the front desk? Great for your customers and your revenue. Find out how and why!

Arriving at the front desk is a key moment: guests are excited and open to new possibilities. Find out how to leverage it to maximize the impact of your upselling strategy.

Sales techniques, tips and checklist for upselling at the front desk | Smartpricing

Upselling is an important activity to implement in hotels for many reasons: it helps you quickly increase revenue and improve the customer's perception of quality, but it is also a push to get to know your guests better and enhance your offering by translating it into a strategy which meets their specific needs.

Upselling is a flexible activity that can be implemented at any stage of the customer's interaction with your accommodation, whether it is during pre-stay, check-in, Wi-Fi login or check-out.

Among all these moments, however, there is one that is often underestimated and may instead be the best one to push your upselling offer: the welcome.

In this article you will discover why it is critical to take advantage of the arrival of guests at the front desk, what sales techniques are most effective, and how to train your team to put them in a position to sell more and better.

At the end of the article, you will also find a ready-to-use checklist to turn your front desk into a real upselling machine!

Why it is important to upsell at the reception

Upselling at the front desk is important for every hotel and lodging business, regardless of its size or the number of services it offers.

Do you know why? Because the moment a guest crosses the threshold and approaches your front desk is unique and unrepeatable, and you will never have the opportunity to exploit it again.

It is in these few minutes that you have the power to directly affect the experience the guest will have in your accommodation. Do you want it to be memorable or disappointing?

If a guest, upon arrival at the front desk, is positively impressed by the team's attention and friendly service to them, it will trigger a psychological principle known as "reciprocity," whereby the guest may feel more inclined to accept an upsell offer to "reciprocate" the attention received.

So, certainly upselling is a great way to increase your accommodation's bottom line, but the focus should be on putting each customer front and center, suggesting options that add real value to their stay experience.

What it means to (really) upsell at the front desk

Imagine a family arriving at your lodging facility after a long car trip. They are visibly tired, the children seem spring-loaded, and all the parents want is to settle in and relax in their room.

The staff at the front desk check them in with a smile and in a professional manner. Then, diligently, they begin listing all the upselling opportunities available, jumping from spa packages to tastings to guided excursions. The family listens, increasingly exhausted, until, having obtained the keys, they take their leave with a polite but dry, "Thanks, we'll think about it."

Now think what would have happened if the receptionist, understanding the customers' state of mind, had addressed them in this way:

"I imagine you must be tired after your trip. We could arrange room service for dinner, so you won't have to worry about finding a restaurant tonight. We have a special menu that the children love! Also, if you wish, we can delay the breakfast time tomorrow morning, so you can take your time. I will leave the menu for you to choose at your leisure when you are in your room, meanwhile may I ask what time you would prefer to have dinner?"

The secret of upselling is all here: offering the right product or service, to the right customer, at the right time ... and in the right way. That is, as solutions tailored to the guest and their well-being, not as mere sales opportunities.

How to train staff to excel at upselling (in one week)

The first thing to do to implement an upselling strategy at the front desk is to ask whether the reception staff is really prepared.

Being friendly and effective in responding promptly to every request made by guests is essential, but not sufficient: in fact, the right spirit for success in upselling is not the "executive" spirit, but the "proactive" spirit.

The staff must therefore strive to read the customer to intuit their unexpressed desires, go beyond their initial expectations, and pleasantly surprise them.

It is possible that this change in approach will require specific training, but don't let this discourage you! All you need to do is to plan your staff training correctly, and you will be able to see results quickly.

Here is how you could structure a complete program in one week:

Day 1: Upselling Culture

Start the week with a one-hour theoretical training session, during which you will introduce the concept of upselling and explain, with practical examples, how important it is to the guest experience and the hotel's reputation. 

Don't forget to educate staff in detail about all the features of the products and services that will be upsold: you can't sell what you don't know!

Explain how to highlight, in each upsell proposal, the right value for the right guest, and check the list of expected bookings for the week with the team.

Identify the customers best suited to receive an upselling proposal and plan to join the reception staff as they check in selected guests.

Day 2 and Day 3: Soft Skills, Sales Techniques and Role Playing

On these two days you will train staff on the main sales techniques to use to facilitate successful upselling and on soft skills. These include all those non-technical skills that relate to an individual's personality and attitude, such as communication, problem-solving, empathy, time management, adaptability, and leadership.

To train these concepts you can create a standard written procedure and then practice them with role-playing, which is a simulation of situations staff might find themselves in while upselling during reception.

Day 4: Present Goals (and Incentives)

Spend time to present the goals, both general goals that the hospitality facility wants to achieve through upselling and individual goals. Setting targets, even minimal ones, is critical to measuring staff effectiveness in upselling.

Don't forget to pair incentives with sales targets. These can be financial rewards or benefits such as additional vacation days or other types of rewards, the important thing is to be able to motivate each member of your team to meet and exceed their targets.

Day 5 and Day 6: Mentoring and Role Playing

On these days, have your staff continue to put the lessons they have received into practice. Side-by-side coaching at the front desk and role playing will be critical to reinforce the concepts and make upselling increasingly effective and spontaneous.

Day 7: First Results and Feedback

Close the week with a group meeting where you celebrate the first upselling results achieved during the week and thank your team for their efforts. This is also a key time to gather feedback and impressions and, if necessary, decide how to expand the training.

Top 5 upselling techniques at the front desk

Upselling for early arrivals

This technique involves offering a room upgrade to customers who arrive before check-in time. You might say, for example, "The room you booked will be ready in an hour, but if you don't want to wait, you could consider our beautiful superior room, which would offer you more space and be available immediately for only €20 more."

Sandwich Technique

This technique presents the customer with 3 alternatives − one basic, one intermediate, and one premium. Your goal will be to push for the intermediate option, which provides higher value at a moderately higher cost.

For example, you might start by reconfirming the validity of the standard room already chosen by the guest, then move to the superior room as an intermediate option at an additional €20 per day, and finally present the suite as a high-quality option at an additional €60 per day.

GAP technique or incremental selling

This technique takes advantage of people's tendency to evaluate purchases in incremental terms and consists of offering upgrades by highlighting only the price difference from the initial choice in order to draw the customer's attention to the countervalue he or she is receiving.

For example, better to say "for only €20 more you can stay in our superior room, which is even more spacious and comfortable" instead of "for only €150 you can stay in a superior room."

Scarcity technique

This technique is used to highlight the limited availability of the upgrade to prompt a sense of urgency. For example, you might say "the standard room you chose is available, but I would point out that our superior room would be available, which would offer you extra space and a breathtaking mountain view. The guest occupying it had an unforeseen issue and had to check out early. If you choose to change rooms, we can offer you a reserved price, only 20€ more."

Highlight the value received

This technique involves describing the advantages and unique features of the proposed room upgrade in detail, even better if accompanied by striking pictures. For example, rather than saying "our superior rooms have a sea view," it would be better to say "from this room you can wake up and see the sea in all its beauty."

The 5 soft skills to make upselling at the front desk effective

In addition to the sales techniques just seen, it is also essential to train soft skills that allow you to empathize with the guest, communicating better and increasing your chances of selling.

Knowing the guest and how to read the situation

You can prepare ahead of time by studying the booking details of incoming guests and comparing them to the upselling guidelines of your accommodation. By tracing each guest back to the previously identified customer segment, it will be easier to communicate the added value of upselling.

This information will then be complemented by the direct interaction at the time of reception and the signals you will be able to pick up from the moment the guest enters. For example, do they arrive with bulky luggage, look tired, or look like they are in a great hurry?

Active listening

Active listening is the secret weapon of every experienced salesperson. Even if you are handling yet another check-in of the day, be genuinely involved in the conversation with guests and try to understand if there is more they are communicating to you beyond what is expressed in words. To accomplish this, you need to maintain eye contact at all times, don't follow a "set list" by thinking in advance about what you will have to say next, ask open-ended and relevant questions.

Only in this way will you succeed in putting your guests at ease, who will then be more willing to share their plans and be open to your proposals.

Pay attention to body language

Body language can be a powerful indicator of your guest's mood and reaction to what you are proposing. Equally important will be managing your nonverbal language: maintaining an upright posture, greeting the guest with a smile, shaking hands firmly, and showing confidence by using a calm, relaxed tone of voice are key components to successful upselling.


Every guest is different and therefore requires a personalized approach. Being able to be versatile in your selling style based on the specific needs of each customer can make the difference between a successful sale and a failed one.

Cross-cultural skills

In any hospitality establishment, it is common to interact with guests from all over the world. Having a basic understanding of different cultures, or those prevalent in your clientele, can help you build a positive relationship and use sales techniques even more appropriately.

In this article you have come to know why you should not miss the unique opportunity of the reception to upsell and what are the secrets to make your proposals irresistible. 

If you decide to commit to putting your strategy into action, it may be helpful for you to keep a step-by-step schedule handy to ensure that you don't forget any necessary steps.

That's why we've prepared a practical checklist with all the steps you need to immediately start upselling successfully at your front desk. In addition, inside you will also find the best ways to measure your results.