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Why you should focus more on room upgrades – and 5 things to do to maximise conversions!

As Spring slowly takes hold and begins to warm things up, you’re probably looking forward to (or not looking forward to – no judgement!) the busy high season. High occupancy, good vibes, and revenue figures that are pleasing to the eye.

But prior to that busiest time of year, there’s good cause for you to focus more on room upgrades at your property. In fact, it wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that you should never underestimate the value that room upgrades bring to your business, notwithstanding your guest!

The revenue 💸

It might seem obvious, but it bears repeating: empty rooms are missed opportunities, and the first opportunity missed is the additional revenue.

Despite the fact that we’re arguably at the point of “Covid-normal”, I’d hazard a guess that there are many properties doing so well that they could do without a nice bump in the bottom line.

So if you don’t have particularly high occupancy yet, this is the best time to make lemonade from those lemons you have. And let’s not forget that selling upgrades frees up lower tier rooms, which are more likely to be booked, yielding – you guessed it – more revenue!

The referrals 🗣️

Poke around on Google and you will quite easily find multiple studies that state a sizeable majority of guests check property reviews as part of the booking process. However, there is an even greater influence on the booking process, and that’s word of mouth.

Providing such a good experience that a guest gives your property an organic referral should be what we aim for with every reservation. Room upgrades are one of the easiest ways to make your guests’ stay more memorable, more enjoyable, and therefore potentially get them to drop your name in conversation.

Picture it: two friends, work colleagues, whatever you like. One says they’re thinking of booking a stay in Barcelona for their Summer break. The other immediately chimes in and recounts how they stayed at your property not long ago on their Barcelona trip, that they took a room upgrade and they were so happy with it, they loved the view and especially the luxurious bathroom, and so on… It would be a safe bet that they would be looking up your property after such a glowing referral! That’s the power of word of mouth.

The rebookings ❤️

Following on from a great stay in a higher category room, a happy guest is far more likely to re-book with you because of their past experience.

Now of course, there is a portion of guests for whom this would never apply, and that’s fine. But there are many reservation types that would factor this in to their decision making process when they are planning to return to your part of the world:

  • Larger cities: I know that I couldn’t do everything I want to do in London with just one stay!
  • Celebrators: Guests who stay with you for a special occasion are more likely to book again after having such a good experience the first time round
  • Event travellers: Whether it was for a concert, sporting event, or anything else really – if a guest had such a good first stay with you, why risk going with an unknown quantity?
  • Regular holidaymakers: There is always a portion of guests who enjoy going to the same city, town, or village as part of their routine, for example an annual break. Make yours the property they want to keep returning to.

5 ways to help maximise upgrade conversions

And now, here are the most important things to do to ensure you can convert as many guests as possible:

Timing is everything

Why didn’t your guest opt for a higher category room when they made their booking? The answer is simple.

When making the initial reservation, most guests are conservative. Since this is the biggest expense of their trip along with flights (if applicable), they are using their booking wallet. They’re trying to keep the overall cost down.

But as time for their trip draws closer, they open their vacation wallet. The emotion of the journey invites them to enjoy and live a little. Thus, presenting guests with the chance to upgrade to a better room not too long before their arrival is going to yield the best results.

Incentivise the guest

Sometimes your guest might need a little bit of gentle persuasion in order to splash out. Consider teaming your room upgrade with an added bonus; for example, if the guest takes the upgrade and dines in your restaurant, they get a complimentary bottle of wine.

Sometimes it’s the little flourishes that you can add which really make the difference in your guest’s mind!

Use a little FOMO

One of the most consistent techniques to apply is that of scarcity. In your communications with your guest, consider using phrases and language that prompts them to take action, lest they miss out on the opportunity.

“We only have a few rooms of this category available – thought you might like to know!”

“Almost sold out at this price!”

“Get in quickly before another guest snaps it up!”

Discounts work!

The other key incentive is displaying a discounted price. It’s consumer psychology 101; if a guest knows that they would secure the deal for a cheaper-than-advertised price, then it’s going to drive conversions.

Who hasn’t wanted to stay in a high-tier room, but never did because of the added expense? Well, even just seeing that “%” symbol can trigger the reaction in your guest that this is going to be their chance.

Don’t just offer the room

Be creative! You know the reasons guests choose to stay with you – or at least you should – target those guests with a room upgrade package!

  • Celebrators: If you know guests stay at your property for things like birthdays and anniversaries, cater to them and make a package. Why stop at just upgrading the room? Include extras like wine, cakes, rose petals, flowers, hand-written notes, decorations – there’s so much room for creativity and your guests will absolutely love it!
  • Girls’ nights/weekends: When the girls are going to get together, their propensity for splashing out a little more increases. Pair the room upgrade with a bottle of chilled Prosecco and canapes, in preparation for their big night out.
  • Older couples: These guests still like to have a splurge; perhaps just not as dramatically as the previous personas. Pair the room upgrade with a sumptuous set menu dinner, tickets to a local attraction, or a delicious selection of gourmet treats – think cheese boards, pate, dips, and so on.

So what do you think? Are you going to revisit your room upgrade strategy? What other guest personas stay at your property, and how could you better engage them?

Remember, aside from pushing up your bottom line, you’re going to provide your guest with a more memorable experience! And that makes it far more likely they’ll think of you for their next booking, or also refer you to a friend or colleague.

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