Upselling well: make it responsive


Upselling well: make it responsive

Upselling well: make it responsive

When upselling is done well, it adds value to the guest experience, but it has a bad rap. Often, a front of house team may feel wary of adopting an overtly persuasive approach to customers. After all, nobody likes an unwanted hard-sell. Opt out altogether though, and hospitality providers miss out on a huge opportunity to increase revenue and also enhance the enjoyment of guests.

At HGEM, we know this is a big problem for many of our clients. In our mystery dining questionnaires, guests consistently tell us they weren’t offered anything extra when they ordered and were not directed to consider other options or additional sides, drinks or other items. Upselling opportunities are simply missed a lot of the time.

The key to resetting your team’s thinking on this is to turn upselling into a more strategic, responsive business. Rather than an unwanted pitch, switch your team’s mindset to thinking of selling (whether it’s an upgrade in a hotel to pushing specials or cocktails in a restaurant), as an opportunity to offer guests something better than they may have expected.

It sounds simple, but it’s an incredibly effective way to inspire a shift in attitude and approach. Language is important – it’s crucial that staff never undermine the customer’s original choice or make them feel there is anything other than great about whatever it is they have ordered, or the room they have booked, but throwing in a gentle: ‘We have some lovely specials today, perhaps I could talk you through them?….’ Or: ‘Can I get you a glass of Champagne to start?’ shows care and thought.

Upselling should be tailored to be appropriate to the time of year, type of party and occasion. It’s an art as much as a science. Suggesting ice-packed long drinks on a hot day, or a round of coffees when it’s chilly won’t feel unwelcome if it’s what the guests are already craving. Similarly, demonstrating respect for and recognition of a special occasion by encouraging a party to taste a few different wines before ordering, or suggesting a glass of pudding wine with dessert, goes a long way to making guests feel cared for.

A lot comes down to intuition and imagining yourself into the guest’s position, and pre-empting their need. Restaurants and hotels who retain data from their customers’ previous visits can use this to inform tactical upselling. Remembering a particular customer likes Cabernet Sauvignon provides an opportunity to suggest a bottle you know they’re likely to enjoy. Similarly, if a hotel guest booked a massage the last time they visited, there’s an opportunity to recommend one this time during check-in.

This sort of attentive upselling can easily fall by the wayside when staff are overstretched, or lacking in motivation. But where there is scope to encourage your front of house team to do more of this, it’s a worthwhile investment, not just in your bottom line, but in the quality of the guest experience. Rather than being something that bothers the customer, suggesting extra products and services, when done in the right way, can help create an experience where each guest is treated as an individual, demonstrating thoughtfulness and attention to detail.

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