Upselling has been on hoteliers’ minds for many years. Traditionally the revenue manager would devise the underlying strategy and leave it to the front desk team to carry it out. But the deeper you dive into the world of digital upselling, the more you’ll see that it can add value to nearly every area of your hotel. In this article, Marketing manager Marlon Roosblad and his team from the QO Amsterdam hotel provide you with tips and examples of improving your hotel marketing strategy with upselling.
Upselling and Hotel Marketing: How to Bring Them Together
This is what the team at the sustainable hotel QO Amsterdam realised when their marketing manager Marlon Roosblad spearheaded the implementation of an automated pre-arrival upselling platform.
Instead of just offering room upgrades and ancillary services, QO Amsterdam approached upselling from a marketing perspective to create a lasting brand experience.
Below, you’ll find three ways you can use upselling to your marketing advantage with memorable extras that set your hotel apart from the crowd. Read to the end for real-world examples that will inspire you to test this approach.
Upselling Tips Improve Your Hotel Marketing Strategy
Below you find 3 upsell tips to improve your hotel marketing strategy. From a perfectly branded experience from beginning to end to promote creative deals outside of your upselling initiative.
1. Create a Perfectly Branded Experience From Beginning to End
While pre-arrival upselling is a chance to increase ancillary revenue, there’s more to it. It gives you the chance to continue the conversation after guests make their reservations. In other words, it fills the ‘empty time’ between the booking and arrival.
It’s also an extra opportunity to expose people to your property’s branding, tell your hotel’s story and introduce yourself in more detail. When doing this, always use texts, colours, images, and fonts that are in line with your style. This creates a consistent and smooth experience for your clients.
Getting your guests ready for their stay like this has two key advantages. First, you give your clients more reasons to be excited about their stay and you deepen your connection with them. Second, you can set and manage their expectations. When you’re introducing your hotel’s unique concept or services to first-time visitors, this is especially helpful because you avoid unpleasant surprises. As a result, they’ll enjoy their stay more and you’ll see that reflected in your reviews.
“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,” says Marlon Roosblad, Marketing Manager at QO Amsterdam.
Once your guests check out, use the details your upselling platform gathered to stay in touch with them. Send them relevant messages about offers and promotions they may be interested in to encourage repeat bookings.
2. Set up Cross-Departmental Upselling Programs
Get the best outcome by involving all your operations departments in creating your upselling program. Consider their input to come up with a diverse list of offers. Having deals that address different guest needs and desires will boost your conversion rates.
Here are a few suggestions for each department to help get you started:
- Revenue management: room upgrades, attribute-based upgrades (e.g. ocean view, early check-in, late check-out, high-floor room, club lounge access…)
- F&B: breakfast add-on, set menu, dinner on the beach, romantic dinner in a suite…
- Spa: multi-treatment packages, in-room massages combined with a healthy meal…
- Concierge/recreation: airport transfers, excursions, activities for kids…
When you have a list of basic deals, try to combine offers from multiple departments. The more you blend practicality with creativity, the highest the chances that people will book.
After running your upselling scheme for several weeks, meet with your team and review your results from a marketing standpoint.
Here are some things to consider:
- Deal performance
- Determine your fastest- and slowest-moving offers
- Review guest feedback on offers
- How to optimise existing offers
- Push lower-converting deals
- Raise rates for best-sellers
- Increase conversions by boosting an offer’s perceived value with more inclusions
- Touch up deals with more engaging copy and photos
- New offers to include
- Areas of interest from a guest’s point of view
- Deals related to upcoming seasonal events (Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas…)
- Your team’s favourites from their travel experiences
- Word-of-mouth publicity
- Find ways to leverage your staff’s talents, local events, and your hotel’s amenities to create talking points
- Update run-of-the-mill offers to make more fun and share-worthy
Keep improving your upselling initiative’s performance by going through these points regularly. Keep experimenting and testing to refine your strategy and offer your guests tailored deals they can’t resist.
You’ll be rewarded with increased conversion rates and boosted incremental revenue.
“Being responsible for upselling 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 our reporting, discuss our performance and brainstorm new ideas of services and offers we can introduce,” Marlon explains.
3. Promote Creative Deals Outside of Your Upselling Initiative
Once your creative upselling deals get some traction, spread the word about them beyond your upselling platform. This is when you bring marketing and upselling together!
Start by promoting some of your top-selling offers directly on your website or OTAs. This may give people an extra reason to pick your hotel because they want to get access to that special deal. If you think about it, it’s almost like creating another service USP for your hotel.
Once guests book this special deal, ask them to leave an online review sharing their experience. If you can, encourage them to tag you or use your hashtags on social media. This will lead to more user-generated content around your brand and increase your reach. You can even repost their images if they match your theme feed’s style and aesthetic. Following these simple steps will create an ongoing buzz around your hotel’s offers and create positive word of mouth. Just remember not to be too pushy when you ask people to post on social media since that can ruin their experience.
2 More Examples of Share-Worthy Upselling Deals
To get you on the right track with developing marketing-optimised upselling deals, let’s look at two hotels that have gotten great traction with their creative deals.
1. The Pulitzer Amsterdam
The Pulitzer Amsterdam provides concierge-led walking tours that highlight lesser-known spots and the hotel team’s personal favourites. Unsurprisingly, people love these tours and usually book them pre-arrival via the hotel’s upselling tool. The Pulitzer wanted to let more people know about this popular offer, so they started promoting the tours on their website and other online booking channels. On top of the positive reviews, these tours generate, this helps them spread positive word of mouth and attract guests.
2. The Hotel Charleroi Airport in Gosselies
Van der Valk Hotel Charleroi Airport in Gosselies near Brussels got attention from the media around the world for offering a rental goldfish in the room for a small fee. Guests loved it and shared this unique offer on social media. The media caught wind and the hotel was featured in Travel + Leisure, The Independent, Business Insider and several other popular publications. Talk about high-quality media exposure – a dream come true for every PR and marketing team!
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Upselling and marketing have the common goal of engaging and delighting a target audience so much that they’re willing to part with their hard-earned money in exchange for a service or experience. Keep this in mind when you combine your marketing and upselling efforts, and you’ll have the chance to lift both revenue and guest satisfaction.