What is upselling in hotels?

Hotel upselling is the process of selling a customer more expensive items and generating extra revenue by way of upgrades, extras, or add-ons. It might involve selling a more expensive or personalised version of the same product or offering a product that hadn’t been previously considered.

Upselling in hotels works best when you have some knowledge of what the customer is interested in and what they will see as valuable.

Upselling at your hotel can be crucial because it allows you to make more revenue from each individual reservation you receive. Doing this will enable you to increase profits because you won’t need to max out your occupancy to reach your revenue goals.

Hotel upselling for small properties

Some good advice in life is to do more with what you already have, and we think it’s worth talking about! The bookings that you win at your hotel and the guests you have already confirmed can hold much more value to you than a customer you’re still trying to catch.

Profitability is a big challenge right now (even aside from COVID-19), with an increasing reliance on online travel agents (OTAs), the emergence of strong competition, and higher expectations from guests. 

In this blog, we’ll take you through some of the keys to hotel upselling at your small property.

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Why is upselling in hotels important?

Upselling in hotels is important because you can boost revenue more easily while building deeper relationships with customers. Personalising upselling means the customer is more likely to return. With effective hotel upselling, you can also create profitable long term customer relationships.

What does upselling mean in the hotel industry?

At your hotel the ‘product’ you’re upselling could include your rooms, various amenities, on-site services, gifts, or consumable goods such as food and beverages.

Introducing upselling to your strategy will allow you to make better use of your entire property, and increase the level of personalisation you offer your guests.

It will allow you to make better use of your hotel’s amenities and products, and increase the level of personalisation your hotel extends to guests.

However, there are other reasons to upsell and many ways you can do it, so let’s look at how you can master it.

Upselling techniques in hotels 

An immediate piece of advice is to upsell at every opportunity. Any chance to make more revenue is something that should be explored. However, any action you take must benefit the guest first and foremost. Don’t try to push something purely for the sake of profit, because guests will probably see right through it. 

If you can increase guest satisfaction, positive reviews and build closer relationships, more revenue will naturally follow, so think about how your upsells will actually impress your guests.

With a customer-first approach, guests will grow more loyal knowing every time they book they’ll be offered products or services that will enhance their stay.

Naturally, this means you need to get to know your guests as well as you can before or when they arrive at your property. Having some background will give you a basic understanding of which of your offers they’re likely to respond to.

Hotel upselling ideas

  • Ask open questions to get a feel for what they want
  • Ask them if they’re aware of any potential upgrades
  • Frame the upsell as a unique opportunity that you are helping to facilitate
  • Try to make it an exercise in awareness, rather than a sales pitch – don’t be pushy
  • Let the guest initiate further interest – if they do, you know you can offer more in the future

Considering that returning customers spend 67% more than those who are new to your business, it is in your best interest for customers to know and trust your brand. You can also use data from previous stays to inform your upsells and promotions.

The methods you use to upsell do need to be handled with a degree of subtlety. Timing, tone, and regularity all play a role in the success of your upsells.

For instance, consumers are becoming more often annoyed when businesses keep to strict hours. They want to feel like they are able to inquire about purchases whenever they decide to. Having a chatbot or messaging service act as that point of contact can keep potential guests interested at all times.

Image representing upselling in a hotel

Hotel upsell software 

Upselling in hotel businesses is made so much simpler with the right hotel upsell tool. But what does such a tool look like?

An online booking engine and front desk system can automate upselling to your guests. These tools allow guests to book directly with your hotel via your website, and put you in total control of the booking process. This means that you can add a step to that process, usually just before the guest confirms their booking, where an array of packages, services and other add-ons are offered.

There are also a number of hotel apps on the market that effectively implement upselling at hotels. Visit the Little Hotelier app store to learn more.

How to do upselling in hotels 

Your front desk or reception area is obviously a great place to upsell, since you get to speak to your guests face to face and build a rapport with them.

If you can give them an amazing first impression of your staff and your hotel, they’ll be much more likely to consider upsell opportunities.

  • Greet guests with a smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Use their name
  • Take a genuine interest in getting to know them

During check-in is the perfect time to offer room upgrades and extras, if the guest didn’t take that opportunity during the booking process. For example, you might say “For an extra $25, we have a room available with views of…”

Script example of upselling in hotels

Are you a little unsure exactly how to upsell a hotel room in person or over the phone? The following upselling script might offer a bit of inspiration.

“Welcome to [HOTEL], [GUEST NAME]!

I see you’ve booked out [ROOM TYPE] room, but I just wanted to let you know that there’s an opportunity to make your stay even more special.

Our [UPGRADE] room is usually booked out, but it looks like it’s available right now. It is far larger than the room you booked and comes with a king-size bed and an ocean view. I can even take care of you on price. Are you interested in upgrading?

I see that you’re here as a couple – we also have restaurant and day spa specials available at the moment, which our guests absolutely love. Would you like me to tell you more?”

Upselling hotel examples 

The most common and obvious form of upselling in the hotel industry is room upgrades, and these can be a simple and efficient way to improve your hotel’s bottom line.

But the most successful independent hotels don’t just upsell hotel rooms. If you’re creative there are a wealth of upsell opportunities at your disposal:

  • Encourage guests to kick-off their stay with a drink at your bar
  • Add fruit, chocolates, or other extras to their room – especially if they are staying for a celebration
  • For long haul travellers, you might offer massage services
  • Create exclusive hampers that include items the guests get to choose from a list of options
  • Inform them of leisure activities such as renting bicycles, tennis courts, gym, sauna etc
  • Advertise your partnerships with local cinemas or tour guides and sell tickets to guests
  • Give guests something to go home with – such as local art or crafts which you display around your property

Hotel upselling strategies

Upselling every guest is the best way to drive incremental revenue at your bed and breakfast.

As long as you offer them relevant extras, it’s a win-win situation: you’re enhancing their experience staying with you, and also making it worth your while.

Here are some strategies of how you can upsell at your small property, along with some tips on how to refine your upselling technique!

1. Upselling hotel rooms

Most revenue opportunities from upsells typically revolve around room upgrades or adding items or packages to existing room bookings.

More than 60% of consumers would be open to spending more if an additional service complements or enhances their main purchase. A good way to do this is to send an email prior to their arrival enquiring about any preferences or requests they may have.

Room upgrades are such a popular upsell method because the rooms are ready and available, there is no need for additional arrangements, and they also have the highest margin of profit.

Guests will often be open to upgrading because they will be pleasantly surprised by the offer and will likely be less worried about their finances because they won’t be in saving mode anymore, like they were before booking their trip.

Rooms are the perfect way to drive more revenue per booking. When one of your more expensive rooms is sitting empty, ask your guests if they would like an upgrade!

  • Offer families a/blog/increase-your-revenue/hotel-pricing-strategies/ second room at a reduced rate (eg. 30% off).
  • Offer guests rooms with special features (eg. a bath).
  • Offer guests rooms that are in favoured locations in the hotel (eg. because of the view).
  • Offer additional service, amenity, or activity packages.

Don’t be afraid to discount premium rooms to lock in the sale.

2. Upselling via event extras

Your event guests are the perfect up-sell candidates! They want this event to be amazing, and will not mind paying a little more here and there if it will truly enhance the event.

  • Offer table centrepieces, especially for wedding guests.
  • Offer audiovisual equipment, especially for conference guests.
  • Offer discounted rooms on the days surrounding the event.
  • Offer to check their coats in for a fee.
  • Offer customised menus with special offerings and pricing.

Event organisers want attendees to rave about how amazing the event was, so pull out all the stops to impress them with your creative and value-adding upsell strategies.

3. Offering airport shuttle

Your guests don’t want to spend their time figuring out which shuttle company is reputable, reliable, and affordable – and missing a flight is something they can’t risk.

This is why you can easily offer transport to and from the airport! Strike an official business partnership with a local shuttle operator to make it happen.

4. Promoting product packs

As a bed and breakfast, you are well aware that the personal touch is your unique selling point. Why not contact local suppliers and offer your guests local products?

Some examples:

  • Local wine or olive oil.
  • Toiletries and beauty products.
  • Local fruit and vegetables.

5. Selling local art

One unique strategy is that you can sell guests art off the wall.

Talk to local artists and ask them if they would like to exhibit their work (whether they are sculptures, paintings, or photos) at your property. You can discreetly place a price tag on these items to ensure guests that they can be bought.

Make sure you also offer a mailing service (yet another up-sell opportunity), as guests will not want the hassle of carrying the art with them.

Make sure you don’t wait for the guest’s arrival to push these offers. Send pre-stay communications the day before or even a week before to see if you can close a deal.

How to improve your hotel upsell program

With so many upselling methods and products available to you, what you do will be specifically related to your individual property and guests. However, it’s important to note that wellness offers are among the most purchased.

Here are seven tips for your hotel upsell endeavours:

  1. Taxi and room service offers tend to be popular
  2. Restaurants, theme parks, and museums are other businesses you might consider partnering with
  3. Continue to upsell throughout the guest cycle, not just before or during their arrival
  4. Use the right technology – allowing you access to rich guest data and the ability to automate selling processes, your property management system (PMS) and booking engine can make effective upselling easy
  5. Let your staff experience everything you want them to sell so they can adequately explain it to the guest
  6. Personal touch is everything at a small property – pack your offers full of local flavour
  7. Encourage additional room nights with special weekend or weekday offers, depending on if a guest’s stay is feeding into the weekend or coming out of it

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).