Today, GuestJoy is formally announcing a new stream of functionality on its platform that will empower hoteliers to deploy online check-in at their properties.
The announcement comes as many hotels across the globe are slowly but surely preparing to either reopen their doors, or expand the number of guests they can host at a given time.
I asked Andrew Martin, GuestJoy’s Customer Experience Manager, to explain a bit of the background of the project, as well as how it will work.
Andrew: “It was born out of necessity; a push in product development that was just waiting to be embraced.
One thing I have always been proud of with our product is that its development has always been shaped by the direct input and feedback from our customers. If it wasn’t something hoteliers needed, or it didn’t work the way they expected, we worked closely with them to form a feature that was fit-for-purpose.
This example is no different. 2020 is a year that has turned out as nobody predicted, and has indeed been devastating for many. There was a time when so many of us were locked down, and unsure of the future.
But the time has come to step out of those shadows and start to move forward. Over the past few months, GuestJoy has been busy fine-tuning some areas of our platform, and completely re-imagining others.
Understandably, when we spoke with both current and future customers, their biggest concern was as guests started to return and occupancy increased, things would start to look as they had before: crowded reception areas filled with guests waiting to check in.
Even with new norms in place like masks, social distancing, and hand sanitiser, it’s completely understandable that many guests would not want to be standing in a line for long, if at all.
Flora: “And this is how we decided to focus on online check-in?”
Andrew: “Exactly. And actually, it’s much more than simply the act of checking in. We have added functionality in the app to actually encourage guests to check-in ahead of time”.
Flora: “So, can you give us an idea of how it all works?”
Andrew: “(laughing) Well, that’s tricky in one sense. One of the strengths of our platform is its flexibility, and to behave according to the needs of an individual property! But OK, I’ll give you a common example.
The first thing we did was to add a new pre-arrival email type. This email features a call to action that redirects the guest straight to the online check-in form.
This complements the lineup of already powerful email types hotels can choose to activate for their property, meaning that any hotel can have a customised, targeted email campaign in place for their guests.
Something else we have been working on since late last year is adding more and more 2-way integrations to our suite of vendor partners. Making this a seamless experience for both the guest and the hotelier is one of our main objectives.
Flora: “Is it possible to have 2-way integrations with any PMS provider?”
Andrew: “In a practical or realistic sense, the answer to that is no. There will always be some vendors who aren’t willing to open up their platform, or the technology just isn’t there to support it.
This is one of the challenges of the hospitality sector; the effect of legacy technology holding large parts of the sector back, coupled with the hesitation by many to change and seek better solutions. But not everyone is like that!
Flora: “Does this mean there are some customers who will miss out on the new functionality?”
Andrew: “The good news is, the answer to that question is a resounding “no”!. Customers can still take advantage of the online check-in functionality even if we don’t happen to have a 2-way integration with their PMS provider.
The alternative is that the information is instead entrusted to the hotel, where a staff member will amend the booking in the PMS. The end result for the guest is still a faster, simpler check-in experience, which is universally what our customers want, so it’s a great benefit for literally any property.
Flora: “You know I have to ask the nasty question about cost, right?”
Andrew: “Ha! I suppose it’s an easy one this time around! The best part of all of this is that we aren’t increasing the cost of the service for our customers. Instead we are increasing the value of our product to them.
Let’s be frank here. Software platforms like ours, and many others, are secondary systems for hotels. Are they important platforms? Sure; but if my PMS goes down, and my upselling platform goes down, I know which one I’m going to be most worried about!
That’s why we see it as vital that we’re always providing value to our customers, and in fact it’s something that continually surprises our new customers. We’re constantly hearing feedback such as “Really? I can do THAT as WELL?!”.
You see, with secondary (but still important!) systems, there are literally hundreds of different providers offering systems for all sorts of purposes. In theory, a hotel could have dozens of systems covering all manner of tasks or services.
So why not streamline things a little? Save money?
GuestJoy is a truly unique offering in hospitality. No other system can provide industry-standard targeted upselling and cross-selling; automated guest communications; online check-in; guest feedback; online reputation boost, and still more.
Single-purpose systems really do need to justify their existence in this post-Covid-19 world. Now more than ever, hoteliers need to have lean operations and costs reigned in. GuestJoy is the perfect answer to that need.
When GuestJoy can consolidate several other systems and yet still be so simple to use for any staff member, more and more of our new customers are thrilled that they can cover so many things – in fact, the entire guest journey – on one platform.
It’s one of the reasons I love working at GuestJoy! We have such a multi-faceted app, that no two days are ever the same.
Flora: “That sounds great! So, do you have any sort of closing messages for readers on all of this?”
Andrew: “Sure, definitely. Hospitality, by definition of its name, is a sector where we won’t be hiding at home on Zoom calls forever. We will get back out there and we will see guests once more.
There was a very depressing time for most of us over the past few months, but, you know what? It’s time to move on from that. No more Zoom calls, board games and other fluffy marketing activities, or letting people know about our home office setups.
Keep the new webinars and baking tips, though; they’ve been great!
But at GuestJoy, we’re all about the push to open up to guests once more.
We’re about recovering, and about helping our customers, and future customers, navigate that road to recovery by providing tangible, built-for-purpose tools that make their staff’s work easier, and make the guest experience fantastic.
We’re about action now. We’re about doing; not just saying. Join us, and you’ll wonder why you ever did things the old way!
Andrew Martin is GuestJoy’s Customer Experience Manager, and bridges the gap between hoteliers, their guests, and technology, ensuring that our tech is invisible at a hotel and only helps, not hinders.
GuestJoy and STAAH team up to connect visitors with hotels in a seamless way to increase guest satisfaction and enhance our global reach.
Leading cloud-based hospitality distribution specialist, STAAH, has partnered with GuestJoy, a leading guest communication solution for hotels, allowing properties to enhance the experience of guests and thereby improving hotel revenue.
Accommodation providers on the network of the two companies can not only expand their reach to both local and global travelers with STAAH Channel Manager, but now can also automate and increase guest engagement using the GuestJoy solution.
Connecting through one simple and efficient interface, and with access to real-time hotel booking information via STAAH Channel Manager, hotels will be able to upsell through daily intelligence and send review collection emails through the GuestJoy communication solution.
The partnership between STAAH Ltd and GuestJoy is fantastic news for the properties as it will assist them in significantly increasing guest engagement. The partnership will also help properties to improve their revenue stream and brand reputation.
We are thrilled to partner with GuestJoy, an established and forward-looking solution provider in the hotel tech space. We look forward to offering our clients this powerful connection which is sure to assist an increase in overall revenue and enhancement of guest experience, “says Tarun Joukani, Director – STAAH Ltd.
The integration is valid globally and properties of all sizes, from around the world, can make use of the platform.
We wanted to partner with STAAH to gain direct access to the growing number of properties that use its platform to power their distribution and allow them to better engage with their guests. This partnership will help accommodation providers gain a deeper understanding of their guests thereby engaging better and right,” says Alar Ülem, CEO & Co-Founder of GuestJoy.
Founded by Gavin Jeddo, a pioneer in the field of distribution technology, we’ve grown from a Kiwi basement start-up to a global hospitality technology specialist serving more than 10,000 properties in over 90 countries. We are headquartered in Auckland and have operations in New Zealand, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, UAE, and the United Kingdom to service our expanding network.
The STAAH channel manager, our first and central technology solution, has an update speed as low as 45 seconds and brings down overbooking issues to a mere 0.13%! Our solutions integrate with more than 350 different services, including the world’s leading online travel agencies (OTAs), global distribution solutions (GDS), property management systems and payment gateways.
STAAH provides industry-leading technology solutions for hospitality distribution, direct bookings and digital marketing services.
Our products include Instant and MAX Channel Managers, a real-time online distribution platform; ConvertDirect and Max Booking Engines that helps property owners grow direct online bookings; InstantSite Websites, an easy-to-use website builder for hospitality businesses; ReviewMinder to help manage online reputation. Our technology is used by all segments of the hospitality industry, from the big hotel and motel chains to boutique properties, independent hotels, holiday parks and guest houses.
Upselling is a must if you would like to provide your guests with that little bit extra that will make them prefer your hotel to Airbnb and other short-stay apartments. It also generates extra revenue, so when you do it well, it’s a win-win.
There are countless articles on the art of upselling, but what does actual data show us? GuestJoy reviewed a year’s worth of upsell data from 25 countries across the globe from nearly 1000 hotels, to see where the most demand was from guests.
The results show us what guests buy; when they buy it; and in what quantities, to present you with an accurate picture of what actually sells in hotels throughout the year.
2019 All hotels, all regions
Wellness offers, such as spa treatments, massages, and so on were generally the most popular with guests, accounting to 20.4% of all services sold.
However, not all hotels have wellness options to offer, so we can safely say the best selling item is room upgrades, making up 20.2% of all items sold. Taxi services made up 18% and restaurant 16% of all purchases.
What makes the most money? Wellness made up almost a third of all revenue earned in 2019. Room upgrades came in second, generating 23.8%, and Restaurants were a close third with 17.5%. Taxi would make a bit less than a fifth of all ancillary revenue, however, it is a tricky statistic to measure, given that the bulk of that revenue often goes to a third party, and a small amount goes to the hotel.
The easiest way to upsell is to provide room upgrades. The rooms are present, no need additional arrangements, while they also have the highest margin.
In terms of seasonality, there is a clear difference in the purchasing pattern of guests for each season of the year. During summer, room upgrades sell 4% more, and restaurant offers do 6% better than throughout the rest of the year. Taxi and room service is also a bit more popular, while wellness offers are not as frequently ordered.
What doesn’t sell?
Flowers, children’s activities, and car & bike rental coupled together accounted only for 1.2% of all things sold. In fact, the data for flowers and rentals was omitted from the above graph because the share was so low that it would show as 0 at that scale.
Why do flowers not work anymore? Well, it is a grand gesture, but just as minibars, flowers are thing of the past. The guest can’t always take them with them when they leave, and in the end its just a bunch of plants dying right in front of them (and it’s bad for the planet!).
Guests want experiences, not just products. Experiences are what can make their journey that much better.
Small Hotels, Apartments and Boutique Hotels (max 59 Rooms)
There are some differences regarding the guests of small hotels. We can see that the guests of small hotels are looking for more comfort (not having to walk/use public transport when on holidays), and getting a bigger and better room. Beyond that, they order anything consumable – food and beverage offers.
Guests of smaller hotels like to purchase taxi services the most, with that category making up almost half of all purchases (45%). The second-most purchased offer were room upgrades, however, it’s only 14% of all things sold. Third prize went to restaurant offers, but beverage followed it very closely.
While we can see that taxi offers sell the most, generally speaking, they are a very low-profit offer. So, as a GM from a small hotel, apartment or boutique hotel, we suggest you focus on room upgrades and food & beverage offers – on these you will easily earn more.
Regarding seasonality, taxi offers peak during spring, and drop off somewhat later in summer to early autumn. Other than that, there were no significant changes in seasonal purchase behaviour.
Medium-sized hotels (60-100 rooms)
There are not many noteworthy differences in the purchasing behaviour of middle-sized hotel’s guests compared to the average consumption of all hotel-goers. However, it is important to point out that taxi services are not as significant as for smaller hotels. It is only the fourth-most popular item after room upgrades, restaurant, and wellness offers, which make up the majority of orders in these hotels.
What doesn’t sell? Car & bike rental and children’s services did not perform well throughout the year with, with only 50 orders for either flowers and children’s services, and a solitary car or bike rental.
As for seasonality, during the summer room upgrades sold a lot better, and restaurant sales were slightly up on the yearly average. Wellness sold significantly less than during winter.
Autumn made guests hungry; restaurant offers were the most popular, making up more than a quarter of all offers sold. Wellness offers sold best during winter, accounting to a third of all services purchased.
In spring, people go for wellness and beverage. Conversely, restaurant dropped sharply, and room upgrade saw a slight decrease.
Large hotels (100+ rooms)
For the customers of large hotels, room upgrades and wellness offers were the most appealing, accounting for almost half of all purchases in 2019. Taxi services were a lot less popular than in smaller properties. Restaurant offers accounted for less than a fifth of all sales, making them a bit less popular than in small and medium-sized hotels.
Seasonality in large hotels also affected what guests bought and ordered. During winter (December – February), guests preferred wellness offers, which made up more than a third of all services sold. Taxi offers accounted for 20%, and room upgrades followed with just a bit less.
During spring, wellness was still very popular, while restaurant and room upgrade offers were purchased more than average. In June, July and August guests were keen on room upgrades, which made a third of all purchases. Wellness offers were still popular, while taxi offers didn’t fare so well during summer.
Autumn is the time for eating! Restaurant offers were the most popular, followed by room upgrades and wellness. Taxi and beverage performed well also, it seemed people liked to stay comfortable during autumn, pampering themselves with various indulgences.
In other words, the taxi services were very popular among the guests of large hotels from September to February, whereas it hardly sold during summer. We can take from this that guests heavily favoured avoiding the elements during the colder months! Wellness sells best during winter, while room upgrades sold best throughout summer. Restaurant offers performed best during autumn, and least during winter.
In winter, wellness offers made up more than a third of all services sold, while during summer it was room upgrades, with a share of 28%.
Beverage offers consistently made up 9% of all sales throughout the year. Room service is at a low with 5% of all sales, however, during summer it is slightly more popular with 7%.
While large hotels did sell slightly more of children’s offers, car & bike rentals, and flowers, these offers are still the lowest-performing ones, thus they are omitted from the graph above. The reason behind why they sold a bit better is because larger hotels have the capacity to host fun children’s events, or even dedicated activities or daycare.
Looking at different regions
Central Europe – Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary
Throughout the year taxi was the most sold item generally, and for each month too. They made up half of all sales each month, and during spring that rose to 60% of all sales. The second-most sold item was beverages, which is not surprising, given the wide popularity of Czech beers, Hungarian wines and beers and Polish spirits!
Beverage, as a category, is also used as room service. Hotels often categorise an offer in our platform as a beverage service when it includes, for example, a small cake or chocolate-covered strawberries. Central Europe is a place for romantic travellers and couples, which goes some way in explaining the popularity of those offers. The third-most purchased item was room upgrade; maintaining the status quo across the 25 countries in which GuestJoy is active.
Regarding seasonality, the hotels in this region sold taxi offers the most in spring and autumn, and the least in the winter. Restaurant and beverage offers sold the best during winter. Beverage sold the least during summer (perhaps people are drinking outside and not in their hotel room) and restaurant sold the least in the spring.
In the region of Central Europe, beverage, room upgrade, and wellness offers will earn you the most revenue
Room upgrades sold the most in summer and the least in spring, with a difference of 8% more being sold during the summer season. Wellness services made up about 10% of the revenue for each season except spring.
Ireland & UK
Restaurant offers performed the best in the region during 2019, making up more than a third of all sales. Room upgrades were a close second, accounting for exactly a third of all services sold. Beverage came in as the third best-seller. But having said that, at a share of only 8%, you can see just how significant restaurant offers and room upgrades were in this market!
Just like in any other region, room upgrades sold best during summer, accounting for 40% of all sales, while restaurant made up 33%. Generally, throughout the year both restaurant and room upgrades fluctuate between 27-40% of all things sold, and together made up about 60% of purchases. The remainder accounted for less than 10% on average.
During autumn, people headed to the restaurants, with 38% of sales registered there. Room upgrades were a decent 33%, while wellness became somewhat significant with 10%, and room service being the last significant category with 7.7%.
Room upgrades made up 40% of all services purchased during the summer season, while restaurant offers made up almost 40% during both spring and autumn.
While room upgrades and restaurant offers account for a total of 59% of sales, the most interesting point was that winter warmer drinks were popular during the coldest 3 months, accounting for 17% of all things sold!
During spring, the performance of restaurant offers was at its highest, accounting for almost 40% of all services ordered. Room upgrades were at 29%, and surprisingly, front desk services (that is late checkout, early check-in, etc) climbed up to 10% of all things sold.
Iceland is a very special travel destination. People don’t go there for the same reasons they would visit a Tuscan village or a spa hotel in Vilnius. Iceland is a place for the adventurers.
However, interestingly enough people do purchase food options and beverages in Iceland quite often, with restaurant offers making up 56% of all upsell revenue. As one of our good Icelandic friends Birkir explained, Icelandic food is very special and interesting; and it’s one of the best things to do if it’s a bit too cold! Moreover, with the current craft beer hype, local craft beers are a must-sell for a hotel.
Front desk services sell particularly well in Iceland compared to other regions. One of the reasons for this is that it seems flights to and from Reykjavik seem to have odd arrival and departure times. Consequently, guests order things like early check-in and late check-out in higher numbers.
Room upgrades are the second-most favoured option to purchase; after all, at the end of a long day of adventures, guests like coming back to a big and comfy room.
Seasonality in Iceland is definitely different than in the rest of Europe. What we can see from our data is that taxi offers to perform the best during early summer, and throughout winter. Restaurant offers perform best in summer and autumn. Beverages are popular during summer.
Children’s offers are pretty much absent in the case of Iceland, given the fact that people don’t tend to take younger kids there; and while some hotels still try to sell them, flowers were hardly relevant to guests, with only 2 sales thought the course of the year.
We couldn’t write this report without an acknowledgement of our home base!
Estonia is actually the first country where we would not necessarily advise hotels to have a taxi service at all. This can be attributed to a few different factors; for example, Tallinn Airport is so close to the city, being easily accessible by both bus and tram. Also, Tallinn Harbour, where a lot of Scandinavian tourists arrive in the capital is located near the city centre.
Wellness performs best both throughout the year and individually for each month. That’s due to many of our Estonian customers being spa hotels, in line with Estonian sauna culture.
The second-most popular offer is room upgrade, making up about 19% of all orders. There are, however, some fluctuations in the sales of room upgrades; during summer rising to 24%, while autumn that figure falls to 16% of all orders.
Beverage was the third-most sold offer in Estonia, making up more than 20% of all during autumn. Restaurant options made up 8% of all things sold during summer and winter, while accounting for 10% of all things sold during autumn and spring.
Our advice and key takeaways
While taxi services are very popular in many markets, they do not earn a lot of revenue for a hotel. Despite this, they are still a worthwhile thing to offer to provide your guests with convenience and a smooth, stress-free start to their stay with you.
But if you want to maximize your hotel’s earnings, then it’s best is to have wellness (where possible), room upgrades, and restaurant offers (where applicable); these three categories tend to make the most money.
Selling experiences is always a great choice; package multiple services and/or products together, such as a room upgrade with food/drinks, or a late check out.
Some ideas for that are found via these links: here, here, and here
During 2019, offers for late check-out and early check-in became far more popular; to the point that we recommend that every hotel should have at least one of them; they are margin-heavy, yet simple things to sell.
- Generally speaking, the most purchased offers types were room upgrade, restaurant, taxi, and wellness. Think about whether you could include these in your upselling, and how would it fit your hotel’s marketing.
- Taxi options work best for small hotels (though the margins are small, they do make for a positive guest experience).
- There are services/products that generally do not sell anymore; these include flowers, car & bike rental, and children’s offers. Unless your hotel is specialised in families, you could possibly omit all these from your upselling.
- Seasonality is key; try to align your offers/services and marketing with that.
- Guests eat the most during autumn (just like hibernating animals?!).
- All this data is of course based on our averages from 25 countries of nearly 1000 hotels. What could be generally concluded might not work for your particular accommodation.
Seasonality is key; different services sell at different times of the year. Try to align your marketing and sales with that.
Obviously, this data can be unrepresentative of your sales, or irrelevant to your particular hotel and guests. These are principles we see in the data we have from nearly 1000 customers in 25 countries.
While we see that flowers do not usually sell, there is a hotel in the Czech Republic, for example, that sold 6 bouquets of roses on their first month – making some guests very happy!
As a hotelier, you know your guests best, so of course, take what you need from this report and put your personal experiences and creativity into making offers that you could surprise them with.
Here are some of our upselling ideas, in case you need a bit more inspiration:
For small hotels
Upselling mistakes not to make
About upsell in general
7 Upselling tips
Thursday, October 17th was HotelTime’s latest event, held in Prague, and the theme of the day was Automation in Hospitality – an event we were obviously keen to be a part of!
Other than GuestJoy, the other participants included:
- Niall Lenihan, Partnerships Development Manager with our friends Net Affinity
- Alexander Edström, CEO of Atomize
- Travis Henry, Hospitality Director at Total Processing
- Jan Hejny, CEO of HotelTime Solutions
The event was held at Hotel Don Giovanni, Prague; a wonderful 4-star, 400+ room hotel standing proudly in the heart of Europe. We had a very healthy attendance of over 80 hoteliers who were keen to learn the various ways that automation would be able to help their properties.
Our presentation was titled How to Supercharge Your Revenue and Reputation by Doing Nothing.
We decided that we wanted to help dispel any of the negative connotations that our audience might have with automation. Hopefully, pointing out how automation is already a major part of our lives, and has been for a long time, went to some lengths to achieve that.
Principles of automation
Importantly, we wanted to share some principles about any automation you are considering for your property. They were:
- Automation should never detract from the guest experience. Remember, we run hotels, not Airbnbs, and guests expect a certain experience when they choose us.
- Automation should not force you to do extra work. The whole idea of automation is that we are streamlining existing tasks, whether they are big or small. So, in essence, once something is automated, it should be invisible.
- Any automation that you put in place should, at the very least, be cost-neutral. However, given the opportunities available from using automation, it’s fair to say that automation should give you a demonstrably high ROI.
- Finally, automation should never be overkill. This kind of relates to the first point, however, it’s more about the idea that automation shouldn’t be the answer to something that wasn’t a problem to begin with!
The key to automation in hotels
Next, we talked about the key to automation – the smartphone.
Some technology innovations come and go (does anybody remember 3D televisions?), but others are here to stay. And for hoteliers, the smartphone is the focal point of easy ways to automate many of their operations, because everybody has one!
When conducting research for this presentation, we found an excellent study – the Customer Engagement Technology Study 2019 – and in particular, we were fascinated with this particular chart:
So, with guest expectation already poised like this, we know that now is the time to start looking at how automating things in your property will pay off.
Automation is an opportunity
Far from being a buzzword, automation now presents as a serious opportunity to enhance the way your property operates and to provide an even better experience for your guests.
At GuestJoy, we’ve known this for a long time, and we have been busy building our unique platform that covers all parts of your guests’ journey: prior to their arrival, during their stay, and after their departure.
GuestJoy is like having an extra staff member on your team whose sole responsibility is to ensure seamless communication with your guests, enabling you to supercharge your upsell revenue and online reputation – without doing anything.
The bottom line
The end result, really, is that automation frees up you and your staff to allow you to focus on providing your guests with the best possible experience.
And that’s why so many people choose hotels in these times – the experience they can have. Nobody knows this better than GuestJoy, and that’s why our platform is the best of its kind!
Presenters on the day
Net Affinity, a long-time friend of ours at GuestJoy, were represented by Niall Lenihan. Net Affinity is a company that is dedicated to driving more direct bookings at your property, via a host of products and consultative services.
Learn more about how Net Affinity can help your property here.
Atomize is a company whose aim is to increase revenue and save you time by automatically setting the optimal price at any given moment, for every room type. Their CEO Alexander Edström presented on the day.
See how Atomize can help dramatically increase your revenue here.
Total Processing is a company dedicated to enabling hotels to accept payments online on their own terms. Being a bank-agnostic platform allows Total Processing to focus on the needs of their customers as their priority. Explaining all of this one the day was Travis Henry.
Find out more about Total Processing and their services here.
Our fantastic hosts of this event and great partners at HotelTime Solutions produce HotelTime, a fully-featured cloud-based PMS system with more than 500 customers in 11 countries worldwide.
HotelTime Property Management System solution currently operates in properties as large as 400 rooms and as well as smaller properties with less than 50 rooms. It also enables chains with multiple properties to efficiently manage multi-property operations. CEO Jan Hejný presented on the day.
Discover just how much HotelTime Solutions can transform your own property here.
Today’s post was written by Andrew Martin – GuestJoy’s Customer Experience Manager
I have a confession to make. It isn’t easy to admit it in this sector but… I’m an Airbnb traveler.
The forbidden logo
There. I said it. Please don’t judge me too quickly! I use Airbnb when I travel for leisure. For me, it’s about simplicity and convenience. I want to stay somewhere central, cheap, and basic. When I travel for leisure, all I want is a place to sleep at night, and I am out and about discovering during the day. I don’t want your upsell! During the holiday I had in Spain in April, I visited Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid. In all 3 cities, my wife and I sought somewhere to stay in the best location possible so that we wouldn’t lose any time making our way to the sites we wanted to visit. But this was not the only way that I travel. In my previous role, I had to do a lot of travel. The length of stays ranged from a night to a week, and when I was on those trips, my guest persona changed. Suddenly, I was happy to spend some of my own money on upsell offers, because I wasn’t paying a cent for the trip! The same goes when I was on my honeymoon, which was a 3 week trip around Japan. Was I trying to put a smile on my wife’s face with surprises and experiences on that trip? You bet I was! And the majority of what I spent was with the hotels we were staying at.
Know the personas at your hotel
There is probably a wide range of types of guests who stay at your property. Naturally, some types will stay with you more than others. When it comes to upselling, these are the guests you are most likely to target. Let’s choose a few common guest personas before we go any further: Couples on holiday: They feel as though they’ve earned themselves a break, and part of that includes staying at your hotel. It might even be their first trip away without the kids! Celebrators: These guests love the idea of staying in a hotel as part of birthdays, anniversaries, etc. They’re always looking for ways to make their stay more memorable. Wealthy retirees: They’ve worked hard, the nest is empty, and now enjoying themselves is their prerogative. The subconscious motto of “We’ve earned it!” drives them to spend more on a special experience while at your hotel. Knowing the guest personas at your hotel allows you to formulate offers that really appeal to their needs or desires. This should be any hotel’s priority when it comes to creating an upsell strategy. But determining what you intend to sell is only the first step. Today, hotels need to do more than just present guests with a product or service that they might be interested in.
Think about why many guests choose a hotel over an Airbnb
Remember before, when I was sheepishly confessing to you my preference for Airbnb when I travel? That’s all well and good for me. But for a hotelier, the advent of Airbnb and its competitors has taken a chunk out of hotel revenue. Your revenue. And they did it because they saw a segment of travelers who weren’t really interested in extra products or services. Here’s a quick hypothetical: How many Airbnb travelers have ever ordered a bottle of Prosecco? How many of them upgraded their room? Did any of them ever book a dinner in the Airbnb’s restaurant? We know, of course, that none of this has ever happened – because that isn’t why they stay at an Airbnb property. The same logic can be applied to a large proportion of your guests: Many of them choose to stay in a hotel because they want the hotel experience. They want to feel cared for; they want the chance to enhance their stay; they want to be able to rely on your services. This is where hotels need to cement the biggest advantage they have over Airbnb.
Don’t sell a product or service; sell an experience.
Upsell gets harder the moment you forget to target the experience. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to connect with your guests’ emotions in order to engage them and foster the urge to buy. As the old adage goes; “Don’t sell a stay – sell a memory!”. With that in mind, we’re going to look at how to package your offers in a way that appeals to guest’s heart.
Prosecco: The current queen of in-room drink orders
At the moment it’s hard to beat the popularity of these Italian bubbles (Bonus tip: The new king will be Cava – be ready!). But even this humble beverage can be helped by selling the experience rather than the bottle itself. Selling the product: The good: The guest knows exactly what they’ll get, I suppose? The bad: It’s about as interesting as reading up on income tax laws. The image is purely utilitarian. Selling the experience: The good: The description empathizes with the guest’s arduous journey and invites them to relax and enjoy their favorite sparkling white. The offer name is charming and the image used humanizes the experience; the guest is relieved to have that glass in her hand. The bad: …Your staff will be busier fulfilling all those orders for Prosecco? If that’s at all a bad thing?
Packaging offers to sell more
The concept of the “Extra Value Meal”, a set combination of menu items, was created by one McDonald’s restaurant manager in 1991. Sales at that McDonald’s increased dramatically, as customers didn’t need to stare at dozens of items on a menu board to figure out what they wanted. This same concept works for experiences in your hotel. It’s one thing to sell a room upgrade with extras; another thing entirely to sell a package as an experience. Let’s have a look now:
Upgrade the experience – not just the room
Let’s now look at our Celebrators. The fact they are already at our hotel to mark a special occasion is already enough to know that they will be interested in enhancing their stay. And, what better way to do that by upgrading not only their room, but their whole experience? Selling the products/services: The good: Not much, honestly. The bad: Guests won’t be excited or emotionally involved after reading such a description. Selling the experience: The good: The emotional connection will be made, because the description focuses on the experience and the benefits of the package, rather than just describing each part of it. The bad: We didn’t have a better image to display, but I’m sure you can picture the scene with the cake and Champagne being displayed in the higher category room.
The Wealthy Retirees
These couples are more than willing to spend more when they stay in hotels, but only if you sell the right experience. They want high-quality experiences, and your offer should be written accordingly. Let’s see what the difference is: Selling the products: The good: Honestly, there is basically nothing good about this offer. We’ll explain: The bad: Starting with the image. Guests don’t need to see a picture of your restaurant; they’ve probably seen one somewhere already. Instead, show your guests the food they will be served! Whet their appetite with a simple image. Next, the offer title. It’s alright, I suppose; but it could definitely be improved. Then, reading the description – what’s the big mistake here? No information about the actual dishes! And zero effort to sell it as an experience. Let’s see how it can be improved. Selling the experience: The good: We’ve got a lot to list here!
- The image is bright and attractive, and actually shows one of the dishes
- The offer title is in French. It seems so simple, but ask almost anybody which language they associate with fine dining, and French comes to mind more often than not.
- The language used in the description appeals directly to the guests: curates a new dining experience; focuses on high-quality local produce; 3 sumptuous courses; your dining experience; excellent local wines. These are the key phrases that our target demographic will react to most when deciding if they want to book their table.
- The dishes are actually listed! The guest knows what they will get!
The bad: What do you think?
How to convert some of your offers into experiences
Now, not every offer can be described as an experience. Just how sexy can we make an airport transfer look?! However, it’s always worth having as many offers as practically possible which sell the experience the guest wants to have. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a marketing genius to do it. Just follow these simple guidelines:
Simplify the language
- Try not to go into too much detail about the offer or the components of each offer. Remember – enough is as good as a feast!
- Focus on the benefits of the experience, rather than the offer, or components of the offer.
“Humanise” the offer
- Use conversational language – don’t just write a dry list of things the guest will get.
- Use the appropriate tone for your hotel and target guests. Be mindful of the tone of your words, whether you involve humor, or keep things high class, and so on. Decide how you’d like guests to perceive your hotel, and write using a tone that instills that perception in the mind of your guests.
Don’t be afraid to be creative
Remember, your guests are at your hotel because they want the hotel experience. How creative can you get with what you offer them? Test out new ideas and see what clicks with them, and what doesn’t.
We are the experts in selling experiences.
If you’ve had a mini-epiphany after reading this, but are not sure where to start – talk to us! We’re more than just a software company. We’re experts in helping hotels master upsell strategies like this and increase revenue. But more importantly, we’re great at helping you connect with your guests. So… What are you selling?