GuestJoy releases “Digital Guest Directory” module

GuestJoy now covers even more of the guest journey, ensuring guests have a seamless stay, and hoteliers can update their directories with ease.


Tallinn, Estonia, January 10th 2022: GuestJoy’s mission is to make it easy for hoteliers to provide their guests with a modern experience, and this is further underscored with the release of their new Guest Directory module.

Fitting in seamlessly with GuestJoy’s other modules, Guest Directory is certain to save hoteliers time and frustration, while enabling guests to access important hotel information in a way they expect to in 2022 – using their smart devices.

GuestJoy continues to lead the digital hotel experience revolution

“Adding a Directory module to GuestJoy’s suite of tools simply made sense,” comments Alar Ülem, co-founder of GuestJoy. “After the initial shock of covid, hotels started to take up our online Check-in module in earnest. It proved that at the end of the day, guests were happy to embrace digital hotel experiences, and so now we’ve modernized the guest directory experience as well.”

The Guest Directory module sits alongside GuestJoy’s other modules, including Check-in, Upsell, Feedback, and Announcements.

Simplicity was the goal in designing the module, explains Andrew Martin, GuestJoy’s Customer Experience Manager. “No hotelier looks forward to updating their in-room directories. In fact, it’s often neglected due to the time and costs involved. That usually results in half-measures being used as workarounds. I’ve stayed in many properties where the directory had single pieces of information “redacted” with a black marker, or entire sections of information covered with a sticker to update it, rather than re-print every directory. So, our focus was to make updating the information in the directory as simple as possible. This means that updating the directory can be done in seconds – instead of days or weeks – and with no cost associated with it.”

We’ve taken a process that could take days or weeks to do and brought that down to mere seconds, without any costs.

Andrew continued to explain the experience for the guest. “We knew that having an app to download was never going to be an option – there are simply too many hurdles with apps.

“First, will the guest actually be bothered downloading and installing an app for what could potentially be the only time they stay in that property? Do they have space available on their device? Is their device compatible with the version of the app? These barriers and more really do make an app a poor choice.

“Therefore, we opted for a web app, which is a website that looks and behaves just like an app on your phone. It’s accessed instantly by scanning a QR code, so it’s quick and easy. There are many benefits to QR codes as well; they can be printed and displayed in the room, as well as in any other part of the property. Also, they can be made to look quite stylish as well.

“With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent rules stipulating certain cleaning measures in hotels (or in some cases, guest expectations of such measures), a physical in-room guest directory was seen as both a complex, time-consuming cleaning touch point on the hotel’s side, and a risk of or being perceived as unclean from the guest’s perspective.

“With the advent of this great new module, hoteliers are in a definite win-win situation; no more putting off updating guest directories, and guests can access hotel information in a manner that they simply expect to in this day and age.” Andrew concluded.

GuestJoy’s Directory module is available on its own, or accompanied by the other modules to produce a seamless, complete guest experience.

About GuestJoy

A complete guest experience platform, GuestJoy enables hotels of all styles and sizes to provide their guests with a modern stay, with upselling, online check-in, announcements, feedback, and a digital guest directory in one.

Reach out to your guests with upsell offers tailored to them before they arrive at your property. Impress and delight your guests with upgrades, services, and products that will enhance their stay with you, all while maximizing revPAR – without your team doing a single thing!

Besides the Upselling emails, you have the possibility to send announcements to a select group of guests based on a date range. No more individual emails!

Our online check-in feature is seamless, easy to use, fast and fully customizable. This will save you time, work and it’s contactless.

Once guests are at your property, they can seamlessly access your digital room directory to find any property information they need – no app download is required.

GuestJoy’s feedback module will allow you to ask for reviews, retarget and handle any issue immediately.

What are your experiences within the industry in the past few months? 

It was a strange time. We have seen a lot of hotels closing. Some haven’t opened up since. But the ones that did are doing a lot to keep up with the new normal. They are looking for more digital solutions as we are all experiencing physical distancing, restrictions and the slow disappearance of high-touch places from hospitality. The physical front desk is starting to transform into more digital ways.

The older generations are not so keen on leaving their homes at the moment, they need a bit more security from the market. The way I see it there is also a certain age group who has started to travel already, and that is the people between ages 20-50.  So as a hotelier, you need to see how this age group travels and what their needs and expectations are. Most of these people already live in a digital age, and use their phones a lot during the day. They want to be connected, but they are not looking for a handshake or another type of physical experience; their preferred connection is digital. Quick, smooth and done already. 

Anything digital, especially prior to arrivals such as an email or online check-in is a way to make guests’ stay smoother and the time spent doing unnecessary things less. 

Are hotels competing now with Airbnb?

What do you see now, how do hotels cope with this? 


We work all over the world, and we see huge differences. In Central-Eastern Europe very often the solutions we provide are perceived as too much of a change, too innovative. While hoteliers there are always eager to learn, they are only now starting to see value in more digital solutions. 

On the other hand in Western Europe and the Middle East hoteliers are very engaged, already using online check-in and other software-based hotel technologies. 

We see a different mindset to how they perceive the current situation because surely things won’t stay the way they were before. The sooner a hotelier realizes this the better, you don’t need huge changes. Start observing your customers – what do they want? Is social media important to your brand? What makes their stay at your place unforgettable? 

Travel technology is exponentially advancing, as travelers change their expectations. 

I’m always pro-digital solutions because you minimize human labour, costs, and especially these days it’s important to function properly with a reduced number of staff. 

Unfortunately, I still see hotels thinking that everything will go back to normal, which, even without the pandemic, is just not true. 

So you think the industry will never return to its previous state? 

Well the capital cities are going to continue to experience fewer travelers until business travel and large groups return. It’s hard to maximize occupancy without these, and of course, current travel restrictions and the rise of Zoom are not helping. 

We are really looking forward to times when overseas and Asian-European travel will be on the same level as it used to be, but that’s unlikely any time soon. 

So what I can advise hotels in the meantime is to start standing out from the competition. 

It’s mostly domestic travel, so find those unique characteristics and selling points of your property that will be more attractive than similar hotels at your location. 

Also, engage with your community; if your occupancy is low, maybe you can rent out your banquet hall? Invite local companies for team-building activities, use your services for catering, or really try anything that can help engage with your locals.

Digital solutions are faster and easier

What do you think is the change that will come fastest?

I already see a lot of new concept hotels popping up. I think they are becoming really popular because the modern-day traveler prefers to stay somewhere just a bit more special than the classical hotel with a ‘nice room & nice breakfast’. Nice does not cut it anymore. It’s the same with a concierge as a hotel employee; they are not there anymore and that service has become digital. 

I talked about it a bit before, but hoteliers need to see their property as a destination, even though that’s usually associated with the country or region. 

Now your hotel also needs to be a destination. If you are unique, people will want to stay with you, and I see more and more hoteliers understanding this. 

A lot of our partners did remodeling lately. From rebranding your image to redefining the type of customer you’d like to attract, you can do all sorts of things to make your visitors stay memorable. 

A great example of a unique property that took the most out of this situation is the Le Bijou Hotel in Switzerland. They offered a ‘quarantine stay’ for 14 days, fully catered, accompanied by medical staff who could do regular check-ups if needed. It’s a new concept that probably will not continue after the pandemic, but it’s surely a good way to go about the current situation. 

Of course, changing anything and keeping up is challenging because of the rising competition from Airbnb, but think about what Airbnb does well.

Airbnb is popular for a reason. I believe that there is the same amount of interaction between the host and the guest, but it’s not done by a handshake. It’s fast and digital. Therefore we can skip the awkward and unnecessary smiling and small-talk. 

What type of product or innovation would be the first you’d recommend?  

Honestly, anything guest-facing. A digital solution that goes beyond and connects with the guest during the entire guest journey (obviously with an opt-out option). 

You might prefer an app or text message; there is no one way to go about it as long as you find a new digital way to approach the customer. 

However, it’s important to connect more with the guest than just at the point of reservation, and once they arrive at the hotel. 

With a messaging system you can also easily offer them a better stay, starting from a taxi transfer, to anything really; include as many other businesses and third-party vendors as possible. 

Personally I think digital is the new normal and the reception or concierge services as we know them now might entirely disappear within 10 years.

Here at GuestJoy, we love facts and evidence-based studies on what is happening in the hospitality industry. That’s why we try to provide our partners with articles that are backed by numbers. 

This time around, we’ve combined our data together with that of The Hotels Network (THN) to see how our tools work for hotels when they are coupled. 

THN’s direct channel growth platform helps hotels to attract, engage and convert guests throughout the user journey, while GuestJoy’s welcome emails and concierge platform inform the guests about the services of the hotel. Therefore, even if they do not order online they are familiar with the offers so they can easily enquire about it personally at the hotel.

Our hypothesis was that customers who book directly are more engaged with hotel messages, compared to those who book via OTAs. Essentially, that direct bookers are more likely to spend money at the hotel than OTA bookers. 

Engagement can convert to revenue

This case study was performed with the cooperation of the North Star Hotel, Dublin. We examined a years’ data – the activity of direct bookers online – including peak and low seasons.

Why should you pay attention to your direct channel?

In today’s digital world, the majority of hotel bookings are being made online. With so many options out there for guests to choose from, competing for customers online is harder than ever. 

Undeniably, a large number of those bookings are driven by the major OTAs, where a hotel is just a listing among many others; often completely watering down the distinct personality and diversity each hotel possesses. 

To overcome this obstacle, hotel brands need to build a strong direct channel. This channel is one of the most important platforms for hotels, as it not only helps to lower acquisition costs and increase ROI, but is also the place where you have free rein to personalise the user experience, convey relevant messages, display your brand personality, and establish meaningful relationships with guests. 

THN tools in action

Travellers booking online have their own interests, wants, and needs. Exposed to constant noise in the online world, users can easily skip messages they deem irrelevant. With this in mind, North Star Hotel has been partnering with THN since 2018; not only to refine their direct booking experience but also to ensure they deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.

During the past year, North Star Hotel has been proactively working to build a strong direct channel in order to regain the direct relationship with guests. Let’s have a look at some of the most effective initiatives they have implemented:

A little sneak-peak into THN’s features

Price Comparison with Price Match feature on the Booking Engine

The first step to increasing website conversion and guest engagement is to reassure visitors and provide them with a smooth booking experience. By including Price Match on the booking engine, North Star Hotel was not only able to create price transparency by showing they were offering the best available rate compared to OTAs, but also gave users an extra incentive to book by automatically matching rates in the case of price disparities. 

Another tool employed is the Save your search feature. With this function, those users interested in the property would be able to easily save their booking search and receive a personalised email with the details and a link to return to the website and continue their booking when they were ready to do so. 

These pop-ups can earn you more revenue

Smart Notes – Targeted Messaging

Personalisation is all about showing hyper-relevant content at critical moments to create an engaging user experience. With this in mind, North Star Hotel launched a series of Smart Notes for different types of visitors at various touch-points along the booking journey. 

Using geo-targeting rules, domestic travellers were presented with a Smart Note highlighting their complimentary parking. In parallel, those searching from their phones would be shown a mobile exclusive offer, providing an extra incentive to book right there and then. 

Another clever message was showcased on the restaurant page. Triggered after spending 60 seconds on the page, visitors were urged to make a table reservation with an enticing message displayed as a Smart Note. 

Earn extra revenue by upselling

Exit Intent on the Booking Engine

Some visitors may not be convinced that the hotel is the right fit for their stay and opt to abandon their booking, but this may be simply because they didn’t realise everything the hotel has to offer. 

Aiming to retain bookers about to leave their site, North Star Hotel displayed an Exit Intent on their booking engine. This Exit Intent showcased the exclusive benefits of booking directly to users who were about to abandon the website, grabbing the attention of visitors and keeping them in the booking funnel. 

Welcome layer on the hotel website

Welcome Layer – Black Friday Offer

At certain times of the year, such as Black Friday, guests expect to find great hotel deals and are actively searching for them. Aware of this fact, North Star Hotel created an exclusive Black Friday campaign: 30% off room rates. 

Drawing attention to the offer right from the moment the visitor landed on the website with a Welcome Layer, the property was able to offer guests what they were looking for. By adding a countdown clock to the message, they successfully created a sense of urgency to help nudge users towards making a booking.

Results 

Working with over 5,000 hotel clients worldwide, THN keeps a close eye on how different visitors react to different messages and tools. After running A/B tests over most of their properties, they have seen an average conversion uplift of 32% when comparing engaged vs unengaged online visitors.

Combining THN and GuestJoy findings, we can say that while the North Star had significantly more OTA guests, those who booked directly were more engaged overall. They opened the GuestJoy concierge page more frequently, spent more money, and submitted more feedback. 

Upsell email engagement

Almost twice as many direct bookers opened the GuestJoy mobile concierge page than OTA bookers, and additionally, they spent more time browsing the offers. About 28% of all OTA bookers opened the concierge while the percentage for direct bookers was nearly 67%. We know that both types of guests usually open the page more than once, but direct tend to be more active.

GuestJoy’s upsell email engagement

Orders

Direct bookers were 1.5x more likely to spend more on their stay by ordering something from the GuestJoy concierge. As they spent more time online browsing the hotel’s platform, they were more familiar with what the hotel had to offer, therefore were more inclined to buy those extras. 

“1.5x more likely to order”

Provide feedback

While we didn’t see a significant difference in the scores given between direct and OTA guests, we did see a large difference in the number of online ratings submitted. 

Direct bookers were more than twice as likely to rate the hotel online via GuestJoy. However, it is important to keep in mind that OTA bookers might not rate the hotel via GuestJoy because they may have already submitted their rating via an OTA survey. 

It’s better to ask for direct feedback

But interestingly enough rating averages were consistent between two groups:

Avg rating does not differ

Conclusion

All in all, we see that guests who book directly do a lot more for a hotel than OTA guests, and of course, direct bookings also means no commission fees to third parties. With the help of GuestJoy, the North Star managed to gather more than a thousand reviews over the course of the year, including detailed written feedback from customers. 

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.

Share of total orders in hotels 2019
Note that Taxi often represents sales which actually have a low margin. These figures consider gross revenue as opposed to the net for your property.

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.

Sales rates in hotels for summer and winter season

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.

You can read more about selling experiences here, here, and here.

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.

Share of total orders in small hotels

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. 

Share of total orders in medium 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. 

Summer and winter sales in hotels

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. 

Total orders in large hotels. What did guests like the most?

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.

What sold in spring, summer, fall and winter season in hotels


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.

Central European hotel sales


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!

What sells in a hotel in the UK or Ireland

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

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.

Iceland sales

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.

Estonia

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.

Estonia

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.  

Key takeaways:

  • 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

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.

Airbnb

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?